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The Cattle Connection

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

Cost associated with being hay happy

Posted by Travis Meteer - Hay

Pastures have really matured in the last week. Seed heads are prevalent in most pastures and stems are starting to show in some of the grazed paddocks. As a result of the fast growth and quick show of seed heads, I foresee many producers haying pastures to: 1- reset the growth cycle and 2- replenish low hay inventories.

Taking hay off of pastures is not free. For each ton of dry hay removed approximately 45 lbs. of Nitrogen (N), 12 lbs. of Phosphorus (P2O5), and 50 lbs. of Potassium (K2O) are removed. Using current fertilizer costs, the total nutrient value of hay harvested per ton would be around $65/ton.

If you plan to make hay from pastures be aware of the nutrient removal. Plan to replace these nutrients as soon as possible via manure, fertilizer, or winter feeding in these pasture areas. Pastures longevity and productivity depends on your management.

ALSO, I would recommend that producers hold off from baling too much pasture. Last year many farmers got "hay happy" and baled a high percentage of pasture acres to build hay reserves... then the rain shut off... and they fed that baled hay in the summer. This is extremely inefficient. Make sure that you have adequate pasture to be grazed before you get "hay happy."

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