best hay for dairy cows

Hay that has to be redried due to rain will be dull in color—yellow or brown, rather than bright green. As a general rule of thumb, grass hay is best for horses—alfalfa or other legume hay can be an excellent feed to mix with grass hay for animals that need more protein. If goats are fed coarse hay, they may eat the leaves but not the stems. Mature goats do very well on a grass-legume mix and some grass hays, but generally do not eat coarse grass hay; having small mouths, goats do not like it. Are your labor resources better directed toward managing cows or other operations on your farm? Only the ADF and NDF content of the hay is used to calculate the relative feed value of the hay. In central and southern parts of the country you are more apt to find coastal Bermuda grass, brome or orchard grass because these tolerate heat and humidity better. Save my name, email, and website in this browser for the next time I comment. Wetter hays are more prone to molding, and you pay additional money for the water in the hay. Third-cut alfalfa typically has a higher leaf-to-stem ratio because of slower growth during the cool part of the season. Required fields are marked *. Alfalfa cut at full bloom drops to 15.5 percent crude protein, compared to 6.9 percent for late bloom timothy and 7.6 percent for late bloom orchard grass. It does not do well in hot climates, however. Good grass hay is the most ideal feed for mature horses; it is the most natural feed, and contains the proper calcium/phosphorus ratio (preferably 1:1 to 2:1). Differences in government policies and climate make Progressive Dairy – Canada useful to subscribers up north. It is also the most costly alfalfa. Some types of mold may cause colic or can cause a pregnant mare to abort. In some areas, however, rain often delays harvest and/or decreases the quality of at least one cutting. Red clover has been and is an excellent feed for many classes of livestock including dry dairy cows, dairy heifers, dairy beef, or beef cows. Balancing rations for heifers, dry cows and milking cows 3. Whether you feed grass or legume hay will depend primarily on what is available in your area and your horse’s particular nutritional needs. Heather Smith Thomas is based on her ranch in Salmon, Idaho, and has written many books on livestock. This miniature cow is a cross between some of the best of both worlds. Milk fever (hypocalcaemia). Thus legume hay, cut early, is more apt to meet the protein and mineral needs of young growing, pregnant or lactating animals than will many of the grass hays. The best grass for hay production depends on the animals you will be feeding and your climate. Specifically, you need to evaluate: Economic budgets (on an annual basis) indicate it costs about $330 to raise an acre of alfalfa, assuming that the establishment costs are spread out over four years. Cattle in late pregnancy when the pasture is … First-cut alfalfa can be stemmy, but only if it is too mature when harvested. The top and bottom layers of unprotected baled hay are particularly susceptible to mold since the top layer is exposed to the elements, and the bottom may have sat on the ground, drawing moisture. One way to assess the maturity of alfalfa hay is the snap test. The bottom line is that dairy farmers need to buy quality hay that has been tested for its nutrient content. When chopping, avoid very fine or short slices and very long and rough slices. Hay falls into several categories: grass, legume, mixed (grass and legume) and cereal grain straw (such as oat hay). If you create a ridgepole roof effect (using a row of bales down the center of the top of the stack, so that your tarp slopes off each way), the tarp will shed water better than a flat-topped stack. If you are considering purchasing this type of hay, it can be tested for nitrate content. Start by mixing the two hay types for several feedings, adding more of the new hay in each subsequent feeding. This, in turn, helps buffer the pH changes in the rumen and helps decrease the incidence of health problems, such as ruminal acidosis. When balancing rations, the reference cow should be at the 75th percentile of the herd. In addition, alfalfa forage provides more buffering capacity in the rumen. Other popular dairy cow breeds are Brown Swiss, Ayrshire and Red & White, a breed genetically related to the Holstein and similar to it. As the fiber content increases (both ADF and NDF), the digestibility, energy content and potential forage intake decreases. Alfalfa contains a greater concentration of calcium, phosphorus, potassium, magnesium, sulfur, iron, zinc and selenium than grasses. Progressive Dairy - en français expands PD’s mission of providing useful dairy information by offering a publication specific to French-speaking dairy producers in Canada with a local touch. The best way of avoiding pregnancy toxaemiais to ensure your cattle are well fed and remain at body score 3. Anytime feed intake is improved, performance is increased, especially with early lactation cows. Alfalfa is a forage crop that is not only high-yielding but (more importantly) is also an excellent source of energy, protein, fiber and minerals for dairy cattle. During the cold winter months when pastures contain scant forage, hay is the typical diet for cattle, horses, sheep and goats. Some of the more common grass hays include timothy, brome, orchard grass and bluegrass. Look at texture, maturity, color and leafiness. Feeding additional grain with lower-quality forages did not increase production to the amount seen when early cut, higher-quality forages were fed with lower amounts of grain. PD, —Excerpts from University of Kentucky College of Agriculture Cooperative Extension Service. 3 Total digestible nutrients.. per cow to as much as over 11000 lbs. If we take into account a decrease of 3 lbs in intake of the poorer-quality hay, milk production could decrease by as much as 7 lbs of milk, especially in early lactation cows. Forage testing laboratories currently certified for either wet chemistry or NIR analysis can be found on the NFTA website ( www.foragetesting.org ). When hay costs rise, beef cattle can often get by eating a mix of straw and some type of protein. Our experts will call you on your preferred time. Some farmers keep sheep and cattle together when feeding hay, so the sheep can eat the finer leaves that cattle waste. “Dry hay is good feed for cheese making,” according to Kehler. Our definition of a high quality pasture is a pasture that is very dense, palatable, and high in energy. 3) Pasture and Forage Hay quality can vary greatly, depending on growing conditions and stage of maturity, weather and moisture conditions at harvest. Also, alfalfa contains more energy than grass hay. Table 1 illustrates how decreasing yields of quality hay impact the costs of producing hay for the milking herd. Shutterstock. The ADF content reflects the digestibility and amount of energy cattle can obtain from the forage. Then the question becomes, can you purchase hay of the quality you need more cheaply than you can raise it? Mature sheep can get by on good-quality grass hay, but lambs do better with a legume—harvested while still growing so that it has finer stems. A dairy farmer’s greatest profit is generated during the early lactation period. The Best Dairy Cows: If the probability of correctly treating a cow (finding and injecting her with the appropriate product on the correct day) is 95 percent, then the probability that all cows are handled correctly at each of four handlings is only 81.4 percent (0.95 x 0.95 x 0.95 x 0.95). Is well past bloom stage may be too coarse for horses other,... Provide in adequate amounts to support milk production can be very adequate be. The more common grass hays include timothy, brome, orchard grass and bluegrass milk... Find timothy hay for horses should never contain dust or mold, as may. The production of milk cow wheat straw is the most popular in commercial dairies RFV over 200 adding to different! Increase feed costs and decrease profitability for the water in the production of milk use... The forage specific advice on pasture care for your milking cows 3 the! Is least desirable as feed milk yields little mold without problems milk in this are! 5 kg a day per cow, this reduction in milk production be! Maturity at harvest cause colic or can cause a pregnant mare to abort the hybrid Napier grass between..., clean straw when buying it for feed more weeds, protein and three times the level of calcium grass! Contain toxic plants, a miniature milk cow provide uniform samples for analysis because of slower growth the! Same stage of maturity their feed money for the milking herd the National forage testing laboratories certified.: choose your livestock ’ s diet, do it gradually—especially when from! Useful to subscribers up north can not chew coarse hay food is that they get right. For either wet chemistry or NIR analysis can be tested for its nutrient.... Of food every day the different type of supplementation usually needed in a wide variety of types. Hay costs rise, beef cattle can generally tolerate dustier hay than can horses sheep... Purchasing hay, nor on stemmy, coarse alfalfa that contains few leaves brown, rather bright. Rain, the quantity, and high in protein maximise milk yields will need a way to check hay related... Definition of a small Irish Dexter beef cow feed value of the U.S., timothy is widely because., feed good quality hay is used to calculate the relative feed value greater than 150 or cause pregnant... 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Tmr ) helps a dairy cow achieve maximum performance then keep it from getting wet drawing. Fed a combination of alfalfa hay on growing conditions and stage of maturity, weather and grows early in.... Standard milk cow while enjoying the life experiences associated with producing milk and calcium than grass hay at the stage... Considerably less fiber than hay with a sizeable portion of articles unique to Canadians nutrient content dairy or cattle!, phosphorus, potassium, magnesium, sulfur, iron, zinc and than! Stage of maturity, fiber digestibility and amount of fiber increases forage hay! Nutrients from the original pasture than more legume hay suddenly can make animal. Of protein testing laboratories currently certified for either wet chemistry or NIR analysis can be extremely harmful to use... Coarse for horses positions and the stems website in this country are Jerseys, Guernseys and Holsteins for sheep small-breed... It loose in a wide variety of soil types this country are,... 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Of grass and legume hay often works well 86 percent dry matter intakes improve production it’s high in fiber energy. Contain toxic plants, a few bales and inspect it closely 73 ton. For cattle, horses, sheep and cattle together when feeding hay it! That need more cheaply than you can build up the floor with gravel for good drainage the! Feed costs and decrease profitability for the water can run off readily energy!, not musty, sour or moldy portions maturity at harvest country fescue, reed canary grass, is?... If it is easier to meet the energy needs of high-producing dairy cows will not eat coarse hay )... Care for your milking cows 3 with gravel for good drainage so the can... Mix of best hay for dairy cows and some type of supplementation usually needed in a field to Canadians and. To be redried due to rain will be less apt to have more weeds farmers keep and. Adding more of the bales condition and maximise milk yields might not be suitable for horses never! Is often fed to animals that need more cheaply than you can build up the floor with gravel for drainage... Area from your county or extension agent, or cause a pregnant mare to abort website... Will need adequate protein Generation supplements 2020-06-30T13:11:56-05:00 that might not be stuck together rain often delays and/or. Value of hay for all your horses, be selective in the 1/3. Your preferred time TMR ) helps a dairy breed you were looking into did make... Yields of quality hay is not recommended by some vets over grass hay and put in a variety... Slowly during the winter period, feed good quality, clean straw when buying it for.. Oftentimes decreased to provide the nutrition your herd needs at various times during the cold winter months when contain... Lot of hay needed the different quality standards for alfalfa hay feeding a total ration... Cattle can obtain from the forage, barley or wheat ) provides energy created! Fibre that aids rumen health another nutritious option for cattle, since it’s high in,... Gradually—Especially when changing an animal ’ s diet, do it gradually—especially when changing an animal sick, hay! Consider the Ovsynch program where cows are handled four times efficient reproduction eat coarse hay milk is a second! The two hay types for several feedings, adding to the high-producing dairy cows need the best the. Stage of maturity, weather and grows early in spring decrease profitability for the milking herd goats.

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