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8 Smart Strategies to Stretch Your Hay Supplies When Facing a Shortage
Ohio Ag Connection - 02/12/2024

As hay supplies become limited, livestock owners face the challenge of providing adequate nutrition for their animals. Here are practical tips to make the most of short hay resources while ensuring the well-being of your livestock:

1. Inventory Hay:

Assess your hay inventory to determine the available quantity.

Weigh a few bales to calculate average weight or estimate based on Extension publications.

2. Minimize Storage Losses:

Keep hay elevated to allow water drainage, reducing weathering losses.

Cover bales or store them inside a barn to protect against the elements.

If practicing bale grazing, limit the number of bales in the field for 2-4 weeks of feeding.

3. Reduce Feeding Loss:

Employ hay rings with skirts or metal bottoms to minimize feeding losses.

Use tapered ring designs, chains, or cone inserts to keep hay inside the feeder.

Electrify temporary poly-wire down the center of unrolled hay to prevent trampling and waste.

4. Cull Strategically:

Consider selling less productive females, open cows, or those with structural issues.

Evaluate the market for opportunities to sell and replace mature bulls with younger ones.

5. Limit Hay Access Time:

Research suggests dry cows in mid-gestation can be maintained on limited hay access (6-8 hours/day).

Ensure all cows can access hay at any given time; not suitable for young, thin, lactating cows, or growing animals.

6. Substitute Hay with Grain:

Provide calories and protein through supplements.

Replace hay with grain or commodity mixes to balance nutrient supply and animal requirements.

Consult a nutritionist before significant feeding changes.

7. Deworm Young Animals:

Enhance efficiency by deworming young animals with internal parasite burdens.

8. Feed an Ionophore:

Consider adding an ionophore to grain supplementation for increased energy efficiency.

Consult a nutritionist to develop an appropriate supplement program.

Before implementing major changes, it's crucial to consult with local Extension agents or a feed nutritionist to ensure the health and well-being of your livestock.

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