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The Cattle Connection

The cattlemen's connection to timely topics, current research, and profitable management strategies
CRP hay

CRP Hay: The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly

No need to write the same intro about how drought forced us to put up poor quality forages this year. You guys know that all too well. Cornstalks, wheat straw, and CRP hay are prominent features in most bale rows this year. CRP may be least familiar. Thus, I feel the need to discuss my thoughts on CRP hay... The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly. you hear the spaghetti western whistle, gunshot, and whip crack ...wa wa wa.

The Good – we have forage for cattle to consume. Without forage, you may have resorted to limit-feeding high concentrate diets. Those definitely are not cheap and the cows would bawl your ears off. Likely, CRP hay was cheap for you to put-up or purchase. The Good is simply that we have something for cows to keep their bellies full and provide a base forage to their diet.

The Bad – CRP hay is poor quality forage. It will be low to moderate in protein (8-10%CP) and low energy (<50% TDN). Dr. Francis Fluharty, Ruminant Nutritionist, The OSU, said it best when he said "CRP hay should be viewed as a feed ingredient, not the entire diet." Cattlemen need to supplement this forage with protein and energy. Co-products, grains, or liquid/tub supplements are needed to meet nutrient requirements of the cow. The fact that this forage will be mature and very long stemmed means the rumen will have to work hard to digest it. Supplemental protein will be needed to help feed the rumen microbes and ensure proper digestion. Bottom line, test your CRP hay and supplement it accordingly.

The Ugly – Something we may not immediately think about is the potential of CRP hay to contain a large amount of weeds and more importantly weed seeds. These weed seeds are likely to end up in the manure. Where this manure is deposited or spread is important to controlling future weed populations. If you are feeding CRP hay on pastures, be aware that you may be introducing numerous weeds to your pasture.

Now, "You see in this world there's two kinds of people my friend, those with loaded guns and those who dig"- Clint Eastwood. Consider yourself prepared to properly feed CRP hay.... thus, your gun loaded.

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