Now is the time for stockpiling, according to Dirk Philipp, assistant professor for the Department of Animals Science at the University of Arkansas. Stockpiling is a good method for providing winter feed and is practiced widely.
“When harvesting hay, plan on doing the last cut of bermudagrass by early October, so there would be still two cuts, early September and then the last early October,” Philipp said. “Once the frost hits mid-October the grass stops growing and the quality won’t be good.”
According to Eldon Cole, extension professional, livestock specialist in Lawrence County and the Southwest Region for the University of Missouri; late summer to early fall fescue growth will make an excellent stockpile pasture. “To make it happen the designated pasture should be clipped or grazed down by mid-August. A soil test would indicate the amount of fertilizer that should be applied soon. Typically, 40 to 60 pounds of actual nitrogen is advised. After clipping and fertilizer application, hope for timely rains in September and delay grazing until late October – early November. The stockpile forage should test at least 14 to 15 percent protein and approach 60 percent TDN (total digestible nutrients).”
When planting winter annuals, either plant wheat or rye in September and graze between early and late winter, but stocking rates have to be adjusted; they are much lower in November and December than in the spring, Philipp added.
“There are not many good options if the rain isn’t coming, that’s’ why we stress the point of harvesting hay in spring when growth occurs and then focus on stockpiling or winter annual forages,” Philipp said.
Most of the 2014 hay crop is already in the barn or in a bale yard. Therefore, Cole points out that the challenge now is to make sure quality doesn’t diminish due to poor storage practices. “Big bales stored outside should be in a well-drained area, not under shade and with space between the rows for air movement,” he said. “Try to keep weeds and brush down around the bales. If you have haylage in plastic keep holes patched to prevent deterioration of the forage due to air entrance.”
When it comes to preparing storage areas for hay, Philipp said to store hay under roof, or at least under a tarp and elevated from the ground (with pallets or similar). “Dry matter losses are high if bales are stored in the open. They may not really ‘see’ it, but the loss in forage quantity and quality is tremendous. Since hay-making is so expensive, there’s no excuse for storing hay outside.”
“Just because cattle prices are at record highs doesn’t mean farmers should slack off on feed quality, storage and management,” Cole said. “I feel this is a good time to supplement a bit more this next few months since feed cost are relatively favorable compared to the value of gain at this time.”


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