Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Hay Quality

We have always felt that our animals should be able to thrive on a forage based diet alone. Due to us living in south Mississippi, we are able to have forage available year round (most of the time). We have learned  (the hard way, I might add ) that just because you have plenty of forage available, it doesn't mean that your livestock will thrive. If the forage isn't nutritionally adequate, your bottom line can suffer. 

This year, Shane purchased hay from a guy a few miles from our home.  He sent off a sample of the hay to the LSU AgCenter  Forage Quality Lab. You can fill out this form here, and mail it along with your sample + $15. Louisiana and Mississippi forage and livestock producers can submit feed and forage samples for analysis to this lab.  After testing your sample, they will send you a copy of the analysis.   This is a very valuable tool to use to ensure that your livestock are getting the proper nutritional requirements. We  had a deficit of TDN% (total digestable nutrients) and CP% (crude protein) because all of our females are bred; goats and cattle. They require a higher TDN% and CP% than what is available in the hay.  Due to our results, we are experimenting with a Sweetlix protein tub to supplement along with feeding the hay. Right now, our cattle and goats are grazing stockpiled summer grasses with some clover starting to show through.  When our Ball Clover comes up enough to be grazed, we will no longer supplement with the tubs.  The forages available to them, at that time, will provide enough nutrients. 

This year Shane learned of another tool from a MSU extension agent, which is the hay calculator found here.  When you get to the Mississippi forages page, on the right side you will see the word calculator.  Click on that link. It will take you to another page.  There will be a link for the hay calculator as well as instructions on using the hay calculator on this page.  You can enter the data received from a  hay analysis, along with other data related to your operation (different types of livestock to be fed, number of head, number of bales in inventory, etc.) Once all of the data is entered, it will tell you if there is a nutrient deficit or surplus for each breed of livestock produced.  It will also calculate how many tons of hay that you will need for the feeding season.  We both looked at it and decided that I needed to share it with you.  I hope that it is easy to understand.  Sometimes I have so much information to share, that I find it hard to tie it all together into one cohesive post. 

** The http://mississippiforages.com/ website has lots of great information for those that are in this region.**   


  1. What a great tool! More farmers should be in contact with their extension offices. They are a great resource!


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