Three Management Strategies For Stretching Hay Supplies to the MaxThu, 09 Aug 2012 11:25:30 CDT
The hot, dry weather has reduced warm season hay production to almost nil in many parts of the state. With many pastures going white, cattle producers are having to break into what hay they do have far earlier than expected. OSU Extension Beef Cattle Specialist Dr. Glenn Selk says there are a number of simple, inexpensive strategies producers can employ to stretch what hay supplies they do have to the max.
“When I think about ways to be more efficient, three different things come to my mind. One of the first ones is what I call limited access to the hay. There’s been research that’s been done in the upper Midwest. They looked at situations where they allowed cows to have access to the big, round bales for a limited number of hours. And they looked at different time lengths. Bottom line that they found the most efficient one was about six hours per day access to the hay.”
Selk said producers put the hay in rings inside an enclosed area where they can let the cows in for about six hours and then drive them back out. He said the performance of the cattle, though not quite as good as when they had 24-hour access, was still quite acceptable.
“The second one involves those hay rings or hay feeders. Research that Dr. Lalman’s done here at OSU really indicates the value of those hay rings that have the solid panel around the bottom so that it keeps the hay wastage to a minimum. If we can have those hay rings that certainly reduce wastage, then that goes a long way toward stretching our hay supplies.”
He said the data indicates using hay rings with enclosed bottoms can reduce hay wastage by up to 30 percent.
“The third management tool that we can incorporate with these cows is when we get into our supplementation program, probably in the fall and winter months, is to include an ionophore and there’s generally such things as Rumensin or Bovatec that can be included in a pelleted supplement feed. These particular products we know can make the utilization of the feeds, and particularly the forage-type feeds, a little more efficient in these cattle.
“So, when we start adding up these three items together, then, I think we have a chance to improve our hay usage someplace in the neighborhood of 15 to 20 percent. And that could be rather important as we go through this winter.”
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