Hay & Forage Grower – April/May 2021

Page 1


April/May 2021

When hogs go wild

pg 14

Beat those hay-drying blues

pg 16

Baleage fermentation is complicated pg 20 Published by W.D. Hoard & Sons Co.

F1 1 Apr-May 2021 Cover.indd 1

Let crabgrass be your friend pg 30

4/15/21 9:37 AM

! e n o r K m o r f W E N ’s t a h w t u o Check nd hest quality hay a

the hig t s e rv a h u o y lp e h ® ment can New Krone equip crease your Return on Investment. so, in forage…in doing



New EasyCut™ Mower Conditioners offer exclusive DuoGrip Hydraulic Suspension for a closer cut. Select from multiple conditioning options to match your hay crop. New VariPack Round Balers are equipped with 4 endless belts and flexible density settings that build a superior round bale. Quick-close rear door cycles in under 5 seconds.


New BiG Pack™ Generation 5 Large Square Balers offer greater reliability and baling capacity. New plunger and longer bale chamber builds more uniform, higher density bales.

For money-saving offers, go to www.offers.krone-northamerica.com facebook.com/KroneHayEquipment



April/May 2021 · VOL. 36 · No. 4 MANAGING EDITOR Michael C. Rankin ART DIRECTOR Todd Garrett EDITORIAL COORDINATOR Jennifer L. Yurs ONLINE MANAGER Patti J. Hurtgen DIRECTOR OF MARKETING John R. Mansavage ADVERTISING SALES Kim E. Zilverberg kzilverberg@hayandforage.com Jenna Zilverberg jzilverberg@hayandforage.com ADVERTISING COORDINATOR Patti J. Kressin pkressin@hayandforage.com



Grinding their way to haymaking success This eastern South Dakota operation has been in the hay business for nearly 60 years. The Lacey and Jacobson families have no plans of quitting anytime soon.

EDITORIAL OFFICE 28 Milwaukee Ave. West, Fort Atkinson, WI, 53538 WEBSITE www.hayandforage.com EMAIL info@hayandforage.com PHONE 920-563-5551

DEPARTMENTS 4 First Cut 9 The Pasture Walk 12 Feed Analysis 13 Beef Feedbunk


26 Alfalfa Checkoff


32 Dairy Feedbunk 38 Forage IQ 38 Hay Market Update

How hay became a four-letter word

A good case of hay fever

In the first of two articles, Greg Halich explains why haymaking on a grazing operation isn’t all bad.

Rooster Ranch has evolved from feeding a few horses into a successful commercial hay operation.






















Here, we’re up close and personal with an alfalfa seedling. At this stage of growth, it’s difficult to predict if it will survive the gauntlet of diseases, insects, and competition from nearby neighbor plants, which nearly every alfalfa seedling and young plant must do. Depending on seeding rate, 60 to 100 alfalfa seeds are typically planted per square foot. From that number, only about 20% ever develop into productive plants for multiple years. Photo by Michaela King

HAY & FORAGE GROWER (ISSN 0891-5946) copyright © 2021 W. D. Hoard & Sons Company. All rights reserved. Published six times annually in January, February, March, April/May, August/September and November by W. D. Hoard & Sons Co., 28 Milwaukee Ave., W., Fort Atkinson, Wisconsin 53538 USA. Tel: 920-563-5551. Fax: 920-563-7298. Email: info@hayandforage.com. Website: www.hayandforage.com. Periodicals Postage paid at Fort Atkinson, Wis., and additional mail offices. SUBSCRIPTION RATES: Free and controlled circulation to qualified subscribers. Non-qualified subscribers may subscribe at: USA: 1 year $20 U.S.; Outside USA: Canada & Mexico, 1 year $80 U.S.; All other countries, 1 year $120 U.S. For Subscriber Services contact: Hay & Forage Grower, PO Box 801, Fort Atkinson, WI 53538 USA; call: 920-563-5551, email: info@hayandforage.com or visit: www.hayandforage.com. POSTMASTER: Send address changes to HAY & FORAGE GROWER, 28 Milwaukee Ave., W., Fort Atkinson, Wisconsin 53538 USA. Subscribers who have provided a valid email address may receive the Hay & Forage Grower email newsletter eHay Weekly.

April/May 2021 | hayandforage.com | 3

F2 3 Apr-May 2021 TOC.indd 1

4/15/21 9:50 AM


Dry bones

Mike Rankin Managing Editor


NE of the most memorable visions documented in the Bible is experienced by the prophet Ezekiel. Often referred to as the Valley of Dry Bones, the story has inspired many Sunday school lessons and sermons. The dry, desolate, bone-strewn valley represented Judah, which at the time had been ravaged by the Babylonians. Most of the Judeans were exiled to Babylon. Even today, a land devoid of water is sickening to the human eye. It’s even worse if that landscape is generally afforded some level of precipitation and livestock or crop production is sustainable. We often refer to this malady as drought, and it conjures fear into the heart of every agriculturist. Those people who study such things tell us that extreme weather occurrences such as drought have become more common. Unfortunately, current conditions and most forecasters are predicting widespread drought in the western half of the U.S. for at least the beginning of 2021 growing season and maybe longer. I don’t know exactly how many articles I’ve read or webinars I’ve listened to in the past couple of years focused on drought planning, but it’s been a lot. That’s the thing about droughts . . . once you’re into one, it’s often too late to recover. For this reason, steps must be taken and strategies need to be formed to deal with any imminent dry conditions. Of course, one dry year is bad enough, but if the next one is equally parched, that’s when supplemental feedstuffs get both scarce and expensive. Remember 2011 and 2012? “In my mind, we already need to plan on reduced stocking (rates),” said Aaron Berger during a recent University of Nebraska webinar series on drought planning. The extension beef educator noted that plant root systems are already compromised because of last year’s dry conditions in the western part of his state. Berger pointed out that early denial of a loom-

ing severe drought can direct livestock producers into a situation where options are limited and decisions become forced. Often, this puts them into a compromised position when the drought finally ends. For this reason, he and many others suggest setting up triggers to take action before a drought gets too severe. These time-driven triggers can be based on accumulated precipitation, available forage, and/or livestock performance. The multitude of options available for dealing with drought are too numerous to discuss here, but there are a wide variety of informational resources available from state extension services and entities such as the Noble Research Institute to help. Often, it’s not a matter of what you do but rather of doing something.

Not just livestock A lack of precipitation is just standard operating procedure for many in the arid West. These areas rely on irrigation to grow crops, including millions of acres of alfalfa and other forages. I’ve always found it interesting how much the availability of irrigation water varies from one location to another. Often, this phenomenon is a function of water source and irrigation district guidelines. In much of California’s Central Valley, available irrigation water hinges largely on the accumulated snowpack in the Sierra Nevada Mountains. This year, that snowpack is only 60% of normal, and farmers are currently looking at significantly reduced water allocations for the growing season. Just as with parched pastures and rangelands, alfalfa producers in California and other areas where irrigation water will be at a premium need a plan. Extension Forage Specialist Dan Putnam, along with other colleagues at the University of California in Davis, have been busy evaluating irrigation strategies for alfalfa when water is limited. In a nutshell, they’ve found it is better to water early and often in the beginning of the growing season when alfalfa production potential is greatest. Water can be withheld later during the summer when production is lower and it’s more difficult to harvest a high-quality crop. In all times, but especially for drought, it’s best to follow the sage advice of forefather Benjamin Franklin: “Success is the residue of planning.”•

Write Managing Editor Mike Rankin, 28 Milwaukee Ave., P.O. Box 801, Fort Atkinson, WI 53538 call: 920-563-5551 or email: mrankin@hayandforage.com

4 | Hay & Forage Grower | April/May 2021

F2 4 Apr-May 2021 First Cut.indd 1

4/15/21 9:52 AM



Stand strong and tall, season after season. We are America’s Alfalfa®. And we pledge allegiance to your success. We believe in doing more than providing the only Traffic Tested® alfalfa seed available. It’s our duty to partner with the farmers who buy it. We take pride in helping you overcome challenges and seize opportunities. To learn what we can do for you, talk to your local America’s Alfalfa dealer, call 800-406-7662 or go to AmericasAlfalfa.com.

© 2021 Forage Genetics International, LLC. Roundup Ready ® is a registered trademark of Monsanto Technology LLC, used under license by Forage Genetics International, LLC. HarvXtra® is a registered trademark of Forage Genetics International, LLC. HarvXtra® Alfalfa with Roundup Ready ® Technology and Roundup Ready ® Alfalfa are subject to planting and use restrictions. Visit ForageGenetics.com/legal for the full legal, stewardship and trademark statements for these products. America’s Alfalfa, America’s Alfalfa logo and Traffic Tested are registered trademarks of Forage Genetics, LLC.

Miles Lacey often bales hay as the sun is setting and evening dew has developed.



RIVING unabated in the eastbound lane across I-90 in South Dakota, I heard the familiar ringtone of my cellphone. The voice on the other end was Miles Lacey. “If you can get here by 7 p.m., that hay should be about right for baling, and you can get some pictures,” he said. Luckily, traffic was sparse, and the speed limit through rural South Dakota is actually more of a suggestion than a

hard cap. Miles and his parents, Dick and Konny, along with his nephews, Tyler and Tanner Jacobson, keep the wheels turning, the plungers banging, and the hay grinding at Lacey Hay. It’s an operation that’s been on the map near Brandon, S.D., for nearly 60 years. Lacey’s father, who is now 81 years old, purchased the farm and started with a stack mover in 1962. Five years later, he added a hay grinder and did custom grinding, mostly for feedlots.

Hay grinding remains a major part of their business today. The father-son duo combines to farm about 700 acres at their Brandon location, just east of Sioux Falls and a near stone’s throw away from the Minnesota border. They also own and operate another 1,200-acre irrigated hay farm in north central South Dakota near Mound City that was purchased in 2006. Prior to that year, Lacey and his dad had farmed in the same area using share-rent agreements. Having the two

6 | Hay & Forage Grower | April/May 2021

F2 6-8 Apr-May 2021 Grinding.indd 2

4/15/21 2:54 PM

Mike Rankin

Lacey Hay has been grinding hay since the late 1960s. These days, they operate two trailermounted grinding units.

Mike Rankin

farms spaced apart helps to eliminate some of the weather risk inherent with the haymaking business. In any given year, Lacey Hay bales 1,200 to 1,300 acres of alfalfa between their two locations. They also grow corn, soybeans, and small grains as rotation crops and have a herd of 120 beef cows, which Tanner takes the lead in caring for.

A growing market While the dairy industry is disappearing in many states, such is not the situation in South Dakota. In 1962, when Lacey’s parents purchased the current farm, the state had 270,000 dairy cows. South Dakota hit rock bottom in 2004 with a tally of only 79,000 cows, and there didn’t seem much hope for stopping the decline of dairy bovines. However,

with some aggressive marketing, the state began attracting operations from other U.S. regions to move to the Mount Rushmore State. At the beginning of this year, South Dakota’s dairy herd totaled 141,000 head and has grown every year since 2004. Along with cows, dairy processing capacity has also expanded. The so-called I-29 dairy corridor has been a near and steady market for Lacey’s alfalfa hay. “In recent years, making dry hay has been a real struggle in eastern South Dakota,” Lacey said. “It’s certainly more challenging than it was 20 years ago, and I find myself wishing for a drought most years. Some of the dairies that have moved in from other areas where dry hay was a normal feed ingredient have realized that haylage may be a more reliable way to go. As a result, we lost some of our market, but the recent rise in high-protein feed prices has been good for us from a hay demand standpoint,” he added. In addition to dairies, Lacey also markets his hay to heifer growers and beef feedlots. His highest quality hay is sampled, tested, and stored in sheds. On the home farm, Lacey has enough indoor hay storage for about 3,500 tons. His grinding-quality hay is stacked outside and tarped. Lacey ships bales anywhere in the U.S. but only delivers using his own trucks within about a 200-mile radius.

Operating two farms that are separated by 300 miles means a lot of road time and the need for two lines of haymaking equipment. At the home farm in Brandon, that haymaking fleet includes a 16-foot AGCO Challenger self-propelled disc mower-conditioner, three twin-configured parallel-bar rakes, two AGCO 4x4 balers, and a Stinger bale stacker. Across the miles in Mound City, Lacey Hay has two self-propelled New Holland 16-foot mower-conditioners (one disc and one sickle bar), two Vermeer parallel-bar rakes, a 4x4 AGCO (Hesston) baler, and a Stinger bale stacker. For moving hay to clients and between farms, Lacey Hay uses three semitrucks, two double trailer units, and two step deck trailers.

A new addition Lacey said they take a similar approach to making hay as for what is done in the more arid West. They try to let the wilting crop get as dry as possible, and then they let the dew start to set in during the evening before they start baling. “We often deal with pretty short baling windows,” Lacey said. It’s that short baling window that led Lacey to purchase a Stahli West DewPoint steamer this past winter. “It’s the first one to be sold in South Dakota,” Lacey said of the unit that is continued on following page >>> April/May 2021 | hayandforage.com | 7

F2 6-8 Apr-May 2021 Grinding.indd 3

4/15/21 9:54 AM

Mike Rankin

The Lacey Hay crew bales 1,200 to 1,300 acres of alfalfa each year. Left to right: Tanner and Tyler Jacobson and Miles Lacey. Not pictured is Miles’ father, Dick.

more commonly used in the arid West. “We’re hoping that we can start baling at two or three in the afternoon with the steamer, utilize that mid-day solar radiation, and then keep going through the evening.”

A change in approach Lacey Hay seeds both conventional and Roundup Ready alfalfa varieties at a robust rate of 30 pounds of seed per acre, which includes the 33% seed coating. “My dad still likes the conventional varieties, and I prefer the flexibility of Roundup Ready varieties, so we plant both, depending on who owns the land,” Lacey said. In both cases, conventional tillage practices are used, and alfalfa is typically direct seeded in the spring, but that may change. “We are trying to do more late-August seedings after a small grain harvest,” Lacey explained. “It seems like there have just been too many years where wet springs have really delayed us or have been the cause for lost new seedings.” Lacey gets three to four cuttings per year, depending on the weather. Alfalfa

fields annually produce 5.5 to 6 tons of bales per acre. All of Lacey’s fields are soil sampled on a grid and fertilized using variable rate application. Lacey also makes use of manure compost from an Iowa feedlot. Alfalfa is sprayed as needed for insects such as alfalfa weevils and potato leafhoppers, but the veteran alfalfa grower considers pea aphids to be one of his most troubling pest issues.

Life is a grind In addition to making and marketing hay, Lacey, along with his father and nephews, continue to run yearround custom hay grinding business that his father started in the 1960s. They service surrounding dairies, feedlots, and beef farms, extending out to about a 100-mile radius with two trailer-mounted grinding units. “It gets busy in the fall, and then busier in the winter, when at least one of the rigs is out on a job seven days a week,” Lacey said. “In addition to grinding clients’ hay, we grind a lot of bedding material and straw for feeding

Mike Rankin

A Stinger bale stacker is used at each farm location.

at the dairies. We also take orders for ground hay, which we grind here on the farm and then deliver with our live-bottom trailer. With the grinding business and our own cow herd, it gives us a good outlet for the hay we make that isn’t quite dairy quality.” With a 60-year history and Dick and Miles Lacey not getting any younger, the future of Lacey Hay still looks bright with Tyler and Tanner now fully engaged in the operation. “We’re really fortunate my sister’s boys took an active interest in what we’re doing here,” Lacey said. “They both went to technical school to learn welding, so that’s been an added bonus!” •

8 | Hay & Forage Grower | April/May 2021

F2 6-8 Apr-May 2021 Grinding.indd 4

4/15/21 9:54 AM


by Jim Gerrish

Let legumes provide your nitrogen


ANY years ago, I heard the definition of an agronomist as being someone who never ceases to be amazed that nitrogen (N) makes grass grow. Throw a little N on a pasture, and it turns green and grows faster. Throw a lot of N on a pasture, and it gets darker green and grows even faster. Of course, there is a limit as to how dark the grass can get and how fast it can grow. There is also an economic cost to every added pound of N on the farm. Nitrogen is the most transient element in the ecosystem. We may buy a hundred units of N fertilizer in the spring, but N is always subject to movement and loss from our pasture. Microbial denitrification converts soil N into gases that escape into the atmosphere. Groundwater movement leaches N below the rooting profile. A cow eats grass, then urinates, and N leaves the urine puddle as ammonia. Our N investment vanishes quickly from the land. By the time fall rolls around, we generally have lost well over half of our spring N application. Because of the transience of N, there is also an environmental cost as it leaves the pasture. This includes nitrates in groundwater, nitrous oxide and ammonia in the atmosphere, and algal blooms in surface ponds, lakes, and streams, resulting in fish kills. Buying commercial N fertilizer is not a paying proposition for most livestock operations. It hasn’t been for most of the past 30 to 40 years due to the changing relationship between input

the pasture forage production come from legume growth. With this much legume production, we expect the equivalent of 100 to 150 units of N to be generated through N fixation annually. Because we are grazing livestock and not harvesting hay, most of that N is being returned to the soil through urine and dung. It is our job to manage the pasture in such a way that a high percentage of the N is held in the soil and not lost to ammonia volatilization, leaching, and denitrification. If we can recycle that N multiple times, our overall productivity improves without additional expense.

Seed them and keep them Mike Rankin

costs and livestock value. The cost of fertilizer has risen at a much faster rate than the value that cattle or sheep have over the last half century. Our pastures need nitrogen to grow and our livestock gain their protein from the N contained in pasture plants. If we don’t buy N fertilizer, where do we get that needed N?

Another way The answer is very simple and has been right in front of us for centuries. Our primary source of N for pastures should come from the legumes growing in that pasture. There are many producers in every part of the U.S. who rarely or never purchase N fertilizer. While some give up productivity because they do nothing to bring N into the pasture, there are others who rely on having a healthy legume component in their pastures and give up no productivity compared to N-fertilized grass pastures. As a bonus, individual animal performance is almost always higher on a grass-legume mix compared to a straight grass pasture. Over the course of the 22 years we were on our farm in Missouri, there were three occasions on which we purchased N fertilizer. Those were for very specific reasons and it was applied to no more than 25% of our pasture acres. We relied on N fixation by the legumes in our pasture, even urine distribution through high stock density grazing, and building organic matter in the soil to provide N. Our target is to have 30% to 50% of

The challenge is getting legumes established into existing, grass-dominant pastures and then maintaining legumes over a long period of time. Fortunately, the small, dense nature of most legume seeds allows them to be broadcast seeded in many situations. Sometimes, a no-till drill is a more reliable option, but most of the common pasture legumes can be overseeded successfully. Once established, most legumes can be maintained through natural reseeding. On our center pivot pastures here in Idaho, we broadcast seeded a mixture of red, white, and alsike clover in 2006 and have maintained those stands without reseeding through 2020. We do this by allowing a longer recovery period on roughly one-third of the pasture acres each year to allow seed to mature. To get enough seed production to maintain a stand, we need a 60- to 75-day recovery period. We used a similar approach in Missouri in combination with our yeararound grazing program. By stockpiling a third of the farm each year for winter grazing, we had built into the system the required recovery period for seed production. The combination of legume seed production ahead of winter grazing ensured new seedling establishment. It was a beautiful thing. • JIM GERRISH The author is a rancher, author, speaker, and consultant with over 40 years of experience in grazing management research, outreach, and practice. He has lived and grazed livestock in hot, humid Missouri and cold, dry Idaho.

April/May 2021 | hayandforage.com | 9

F2 9 Apr-May 2021 Pature Walk.indd 1

4/15/21 10:02 AM

Mike Rankin

How hay became a four-letter word by Greg Halich


’VE been waiting patiently for the inevitable to happen — for the word “hay” to morph into the word “haye,” or something similar. In some circles of the progressive forage community, hay has already become a four-letter word. It’s been demonized for sucking out the profits on cattle farms and has stigmatized underperforming farmers who feed it as a sign of weakness. “Every day grazed is money saved” was the career-focused motto of at least one forage specialist, and many more have gone nearly as far, claiming grazing is always cheaper than feeding hay. Many grass farmers have also jumped onto this bandwagon, trying to out-compete each other to see who can feed the fewest days of hay each

winter, blindly assuming this will automatically equate to higher profits. How did we get to the point where large numbers of farmers and members of the larger forage community started to believe that we needed to get rid of hay feeding on our livestock farms? From what I can ascertain, there were two main causes. On the academic side, there was rudimentary analysis showing the average cost of grazing was shown to be cheaper than the average cost of feeding hay. If the cost of grazing is cheaper than feeding hay, then ergo, the more days we graze through the winter, the higher our profits will be. It was a simple, concise message, and a lot of key individuals in the academic community latched onto it. On the popular-press side, there was the 2010 publication of “Kick the Hay Habit” by Jim Gerrish. The main

theme of this book was that times had changed over the previous few decades, and that hay had become relatively more expensive, while what we were getting for our end product (calves) had not. He advocated that most cattle farms should be feeding no hay or something very close to that.

Consider the real cost The book and its message were extremely popular with a subset of cattle farmers, many of these preferred to be known as “grass farmers.” These farmers became convinced that to be profitable, you needed to adopt the no-hay feeding philosophy, and a movement was born. But were these messages true?

GREG HALICH The author is an extension agricultural economist with the University of Kentucky and a grass-finishing cattle farmer in central Kentucky.

10 | Hay & Forage Grower | April/May 2021

F2 10-11 Apr-May 2021 Four-Letter Word.indd 2

4/16/21 8:10 AM

The analysis on the academic side is a good example of how simplistic reasoning transferred out of its original context can lead to incorrect inferences. The average cost of grazing is, of course, going to be lower than the average cost of feeding hay. If it was not, we would have beef cattle penned up during the spring, summer, and fall, feeding hay rather than being out on pasture grazing. That is all that this analysis can tell us, as the average cost of grazing was estimated for a typical grazing season, not year-round grazing. Just as fuel efficiency and response to fertilizer decline as we increase vehicle speed and fertilizer quantity, the cost of an additional grazing day will rise as we push grazing further into fall and winter. The further we push it, the higher the cost. At some point, the cost of an additional grazing day is going to be more than the cost to feed hay, at least on most farms and in most practical situations. The only question will be: “When do we reach this point?” On some farms, it may equate to one month of hay feeding, and on other farms it may be four months. And yes, on some farms, under very specific situations, the optimal amount of hay feeding may be zero, or something very close to it. What is somehow ignored or not understood by the no-hay feeding advocates is that to get down to no hay feeding on a mostly perennial grass-based cattle farm, you will need a much lower stocking rate compared to, for instance, feeding two to three months of hay with the same intensity of management in both situations. There is no way around this. Yes, you may be able to find examples of two farms that have the same stocking rate, with one feeding no hay and one feeding two to three months of hay, but this does not mean that there is no stocking rate trade-off. The farm that feeds no hay either has much better soils and/or much better management than the other farm. It is not an apples-to-apples comparison. I can take the farm that is currently feeding no hay, and by allowing for a month of hay feeding, be able to bump its stocking rate by 15% to 20%. Which of those scenarios would be more profitable?

It all depends There is not an answer that fits every situation, as it will depend on the spe-

cific circumstances of the farm. However, in the current market environment and with most hay cost scenarios, feeding for one month will generally be more profitable. The focus of a follow-up article will go into this a little deeper. For now, we will simplify and generalize to help us understand the broad concepts that will influence the optimal number of hay-feeding days. To help with this understanding, we will start with two extreme situations for determining the optimal amount of hay feeding: Scenario 1. Assume you have an extremely high hay cost: $150 per ton for average quality cow hay and low base profitability for the farm — 500pound calves selling for $1 per pound. Will you want a low stocking rate and a low amount of hay feeding on this farm, or a high stocking rate and a high amount of hay feeding? Hopefully the answer is obvious: You will want to drop your stocking rate down to the point where you are feeding next to no hay whatsoever. The farm would be losing money at $1 per pound calves even with average-priced hay. We want to feed next to no hay in this situation. Scenario 2. Now assume you have an extremely low hay cost: $40 per ton for average quality cow hay and high base profitability for the farm — 500-pound calves selling for $2 per pound. Will you want a low stocking rate and low amount of hay feeding on this farm or a high stocking rate and a high amount of hay feeding? Again, hopefully the answer is obvious: You will likely want to stock as many cows as you possibly can on this farm to take advantage of the high calf prices and low feed costs. This farm would be money ahead with $2 per pound calves even with average-priced hay. With cheap hay, the farm is making a killing and would need to become a virtual feedlot to maximize profit in this situation. Of course, most real-world situations will be somewhere in between these two extremes. But the point is that the most profitable hay feeding days will be driven largely by the hay cost on a particular farm, the general market conditions, and also, to a lesser degree, the overall cost structure on a particular farm.

Times have changed This brings us back to Gerrish’s “Kick the Hay Habit” that popularized the no hay feeding concept. The book was published in 2010 after a string of four

years where 500-pound steers were selling around $1 per pound. This is no coincidence. Think of this in the context of the two extreme situations previously presented and the resulting implications for optimal hay feeding days. Gerrish’s broad recommendation for getting rid of hay feeding was likely spot on for that era of low calf prices. Making a very small profit per animal on a few animals would potentially have been a lot better than losing a moderate amount per animal on a lot of animals. Fortunately for cattle farmers, those low prices did not last long, although the no-hay feeding paradigm for a subset of cattle farmers has lasted through today. I presented on the topic of most profitable hay feeding days at the Tennessee Grazing for Profit conference a few years ago, and a young cattle farmer came up to me after the presentation. He seemed confused: He had read in a grazing magazine and heard at conferences that grazing is always cheaper than feeding hay. My results contradicted the message he had heard — strive for feeding no hay on your cattle farm. I asked him how he was going to get to the point of not feeding any hay on his farm. He said he was told to just keep grazing through the winter and to not feed hay! Compassionately, I told him that this was wishful thinking, and that wishful thinking will not provide grass for the cows to eat on a cold, windy February day. I hope he had hay in storage as a backup to his plan. One of the worst feelings you can have in the cattle business is realizing you are going to be a month short of hay in a winter when hay supplies are scarce.

Don’t be ashamed Hay should not be a four-letter word. Hay should be considered a tool, and like any tool, it can be used wisely or abused. Used wisely and fed judiciously, hay allows us to have a significantly higher stocking rate than we could with no hay feeding, and, in most cases, be more profitable. Graze as far as you profitably can into the winter, and after that point, do not feel ashamed when you start feeding hay. Laugh all the way to the bank when a fellow grazier brags that they didn’t have to feed a single bale of hay this winter. You will know better. • NEXT ISSUE: Find your hay feeding days’ sweet spot April/May 2021 | hayandforage.com | 11

F2 10-11 Apr-May 2021 Four-Letter Word.indd 3

4/15/21 10:04 AM


by John Goeser

Get your soybean meal from alfalfa fields


ITH skyrocketing protein costs following a challenged growing season in South America, forage protein value is under the microscope. Improved U.S. soybean complex exports have contributed to driving up soybean prices, and all other protein-rich feeds have followed suit. Protein feeds have risen by $100 per ton or more relative to prior years, which have tightened margins. Growing higher quality feed is one avenue to ease the rising feed cost burden. Agronomists are taking note as well, with one group recently posing the question, “What should we focus on during high protein and energy feed cost times?” To their credit, leading agronomists for dairies are teaming up with farmers and their nutritionists to improve forage quality. Higher forage quality can lessen the feed cost per hundredweight in multiple ways. The paths to widening feed margins are as follows: • Permitting greater forage to concentrate ratios to reduce purchased feed costs • Striving for higher protein content in forages to reduce protein feed purchases and costs • Improving feed conversion efficiency

A push for more protein Getting to any of these three outcomes can be a bit complicated, but our focus in this article will be the second point. Specific to alfalfa or grass, improved protein yield can have substantial economic impact. This year, with soybean meal prices nearing $450 per ton, we have added incentive to push for greater protein content in our harvested hay or haylage crops. The economic return from small improvements in alfalfa protein content can quickly add to ration cost savings.

Consider the following math, using a 5-ton dry matter yield for alfalfa hay or haylage as an example: • 5 ton per acre per year equates to 10,000 pounds of dry alfalfa. • At 20% crude protein, 2,000 pounds of protein per acre are harvested. • At 21% crude protein, 2,100 pounds of protein per acre are harvested. • 100 pounds of crude protein equates to roughly 220 pounds of soybean meal equivalent, assuming 51% dry matter crude protein soybean meal that is 90% dry matter ((100 ÷ 0.51) ÷ 0.9). As can be seen, a seemingly small one percentage unit bump in crude protein yield for alfalfa can translate into 220 pounds more soybean meal equivalent per acre. This added soybean meal equivalent per acre carries about a $50 per acre value!

Keep the leaves According to Dan Undersander, emeritus forage agronomist with the University of Wisconsin, the harvested leaf percentage of alfalfa accounts for 70% of the forage’s relative forage quality (RFQ). He further states that it’s even more important than maturity at harvest. Alfalfa leaves contain about 25% to 30% crude protein while the stems have only 6% to 10%. Recently, I brought this protein issue up with a group of skilled and experienced agronomists. In that discussion, we began with the understanding that the leaf-to-stem ratio drives protein content in alfalfa. The leaves are rich in both protein and energy, while the stem carries the fiber to keep the plant standing. There’s been some discussion about developing leaf-to-stem laboratory measures in the past, but a protein and fiber analysis essentially tells us

what we need to know. There are then several ways to go about enhancing forage protein content by way of harvesting more leaves. From a management standpoint, cutting alfalfa sooner will yield more leaves and fewer stems. I always recommend monitoring the stand’s maturity rather than relying on calendar dates. A 28-day cutting interval can yield anything from dairy-quality alfalfa to a bedding worthy crop. Also, take care when handling the crop during merging or raking, as any added handling will drop more leaves in the field, especially if the crop is relatively dry. Prior to harvest, there are other options that will help yield more leaves. Ideally, we want to lean on published research as well as practical experience to outline the key paths to greater leaf retention. Added crop protection and ensuring adequate soil fertility are options we should evaluate this year. Insect damage impacts crop quality, so applying insecticides is generally a routine practice for many growers. During conversations with Damon Smith, an extension plant pathologist with the University of Wisconsin, I’ve learned that foliar fungicide applications to alfalfa can improve forage quality when cutting intervals exceed 35 days. In collaborative meetings with crop advisers and agronomists, I’ve also learned that supplemental fertility applications can also help in some situations. Ensuring adequate nitrogen is available to forage grasses will have a profound impact on crude protein concentration. Consult with your crop adviser to take these discussions further for your farm. Take steps to preserve the leaf-tostem ratio to improve hay or haylage protein content. There could be $50 per acre or more of gross revenue in soybean meal equivalent out in your alfalfa fields with proven adjustments to your agronomic plan. • JOHN GOESER The author is the director of nutrition research and innovation with Rock River Lab Inc, and adjunct assistant professor, University of Wisconsin-Madison’s Dairy Science Department.

12 | Hay & Forage Grower | April/May 2021

F3 12 Apr-May 2021 Feed Analysis.indd 1

4/15/21 10:11 AM


by Beth Reynolds

sity, building a pad, or buying a tarp to cover bales. Remember, for 5-feet diameter round bales, the outside 9 inches make up 50% of the bale. Large round bales that are left uncovered and placed on the ground can result in feed waste of 5% to 61%, but in a well-drained area where bales are covered with plastic or a tarp, that range drops to 2% to 17%.

Cover up Mike Rankin

Stretch next year’s forage inventory


URRENT hay and forage inventories are approaching their annual low. This means there is a looming break from the daily feeding chores for some, but it also means there is the opportunity for improvements in feed storage facilities before the first cutting of hay or any silage is harvested. The benefit of improving storage facilities for forages, wet or dry, is not new. The primary goals of storage are to reduce waste, maintain quality, and prevent contamination. All of these factors are interrelated. It’s intuitive for us to recognize that storing hay in a low area that can turn into a wet, muddy mess is a bad idea, but there are consequences less apparent than visible feed refusal and waste that impact animal health and performance. Contaminants come in many forms, including trash and manure. My “favorite” from last year was a ripe skunk in a hay bale. Some contaminants are unavoidable; others can be minimized and prevented by improving storage areas. Depressed gains or other slight performance changes caused by spoiled or contaminated forages may or may not be noticed. For contaminants, health is often the most obvious and biggest concern. The skunk in the hay bale example seems humorous at a glance, but animal carcasses, even mice, pose a real risk of botulism. While some contamination can happen during harvest, additional health issues can arise from subpar storage environments. Silage contaminated with soil is prone to causing health issues. Soil is often

picked up during harvest, while packing, or when stored on an earthen floor. For example, soil is a good source of iron, which can tie up multiple minerals and lead to health problems. Manganese deficiency has been an issue for some producers recently. A potential culprit is high-iron levels in corn silage, which can disrupt the absorption of manganese. In some cases, this can lead to calves being born with bull-dog-like features — a birth defect known as chondrodysplasia. Listeria is another disease often caused by poor, contaminated silage.

Waste not, want not Feed waste may not be a line item in operating expenses, but limiting feed waste can be the most effective method of reducing feed costs. In addition to utilizing strategies to minimize feedout waste, if you’re putting in the work to make or source high-quality feed, storage loss needs to be minimized. Some dry matter (DM) loss from forages during the storage period is inevitable, but disregard for how forage is stored can result in losses of over 50% of the harvested DM. Investing in feed storage is sometimes daunting, and the solutions most effective at reducing waste are the most expensive. Consider what makes the most sense for your operation based on resources, production scale, and environment. Some basic low-cost strategies to reduce waste for dry forages might start with simply upgrading to a net wrap that is more effective at diverting moisture off bales, improving bale den-

In silage systems, even well-managed piles can experience DM loss around 15%. Simply covering a silage pit has a big impact, with uncovered piles resulting in losses of 24% to 58%. A Kansas study found that 10% of the silage DM was lost in just the top 10 inches in covered piles compared to a 75% loss when left uncovered. Even before the characteristic dark layer of spoiled silage is visible, 5% to 20% DM loss can occur. Wisconsin data indicates silage bags and oxygen limiting tower silos are the most effective at reducing loss with a range of 6% to 17% in well-managed systems. Research demonstrates that each 1 pound per square foot improvement in bunker silo density saves an additional 1% of recovered DM simply by doing a better job of packing. Beyond just DM losses, declines in forage digestibility occur as well. Significant DM losses can also occur at feedout. A concrete base will have less feedout waste compared to an earthen floor (3% to 5% compared to 8% to 20%, respectively). Each operation is unique in its ability to justify forage storage infrastructure. There are a few tools available to compare hay storage options and how long it takes to recapture the investment, including the “Hay Storage Cost Comparison” spreadsheet from Iowa State University’s “Ag Decision Maker” website. Any method to reduce waste needs to be in place before the forage harvest begins. Now is the time to run the numbers, make a plan, and initiate changes that will help boost your forage supply through the next feeding season. •

BETH REYNOLDS The author is with Iowa State University Extension and is a program specialist at the Iowa Beef Center in Ames.

April/May 2021 | hayandforage.com | 13

F4 13 Apr-May 2021 Beef Feedbunk.indd 1

4/15/21 2:45 PM

WHEN HOGS GO WILD by Josh Gaskamp


ILD pigs cause damage to both agricultural and non-agricultural lands, creating financial burdens for landowners and complicating future management. It almost seems the holes created by wild pig rooting behavior are strategically placed to inflict the most damage or pain possible to equipment and ranchers. The best strategy is to prevent damage from occurring, but, most often, rooting damage occurs before pig presence is detected. Repairing rooted pastures isn’t something any of us look forward to, but this how-to question is common enough that we would like to share some of the strategies currently being used.

Anything with a calorie The wild pig’s diet consists of multiple parts of plants, fungi, invertebrates, and vertebrates. They are considered opportunistic and omnivorous, meaning they will consume almost anything with a calorie. Wild pigs forage aboveground, similar to cattle, but they also forage below ground, consuming roots, tubers, and associated plant structures and insects. You may have heard that wild pigs prefer dense brush and are only active at night. These statements are misleading. Food is actually more limited in dense brush or timber, except during the fall when acorns are falling. So, wild pigs forage mostly in grasslands or mixed environments. Yes, wild pigs are most active around

dawn and dusk, but they can be active any time of day or night, depending on nutritive requirements. Daytime temperatures and hunting pressure can influence activity periods. Wild pigs often spend a large portion of their time loafing in dense cover, mostly at midday.

Plan for mitigation There are several recommended strategies to stop or discourage wild pig damage. These include: Choice of forage: Wild pigs are attracted to some forages more than others. When planning to plant pasture, realize that annual small grains like wheat, rye, and oats can be attractive targets for pig predation. Of the perennial warm-season plants, introduced forages, such as bermudagrass, typically receive the most damage. Introduced forages are commonly planted as monocultures, which make them very efficient for wild pigs to forage. Wild pigs do not seem to have the same preference for most native plants. Diversity in many native systems plays a role in limiting impacts from wild pigs. In addition, most native plants have deeper rooting systems when compared to the horizontal rhizomatous structures in bermudagrass and johnsongrass. Wild pigs have an affinity for bermudagrass and johnsongrass roots in winter and spring. Fencing: Protecting annual small grains from planting time until they have a couple inches of growth is effective in reducing their predation by wild pigs. This can be accomplished with temporary electric fencing spaced approx-

imately 12 and 26 inches off the ground. Permanent fencing can also be used to protect pastures from pig damage. Woven wire fencing and eight-strand barbed wire fencing have proven to reduce intrusion by wild pigs. These options should be explored where there is a recurring harvest of high-value forages (horse-quality hay) or areas that are highly susceptible to pig damage. Trapping: Another form of protection can be the use of trapping or hunting. Currently, trapping is the most effective tool to reduce wild pig populations. When using trapping and harassment (hunting) methods, do so before planting. Employing these techniques after seed is in the ground will be less effective because pigs will have identified a dependable food source. They will revisit the field periodically and avoid times when they encounter hunters. Planted seed and bait in traps are also competing food sources for pigs. Wild pigs will almost always choose the planted food source, as entering a trap is risky.

Damage varies There are several ways to repair pig damage in pastures. It is important to understand that no two damage scenarios are the same, and that an effective way to repair one pasture may be an ineffective way to repair another. There are so many variables in play, making a single blanket recommendation impossible. Forage type and biomass, soil texture, moisture, and the extent of pig damage all play an important role in selecting the right tools. Rooting: Most often, managers see pieces of sod (vegetation, roots, and soil together) flipped over. These pieces may still be attached to adjacent earth by roots, but exposed roots are often clipped off. Soil texture will affect rooting depth. Food availability affects the extent of rooting. Rooting can be anywhere on the spectrum between an inch or less to 2 to 3 feet in depth and can be just a few small patches or acres in size. These variables also influence the preferred repair method. Lawns: Lawns with just a few

JOSH GASKAMP The author is a wildlife and range consultant and technical consultation manager for the Noble Research Institute.

14 | Hay & Forage Grower | April/May 2021

F4 14-15 Apr-May 2021 Hogs.indd 2

4/15/21 3:09 PM

Wild pig damage in no-till wheat in a pasture of introduced forages.

patches of flipped-over sod probably deserve the attention that a manual approach affords. Using any type of equipment on a lawn will likely cause more disturbance than using your hands or a rake to flip the sod over and place it back in the soil-exposed areas. Pasture: Bermudagrass pasture that is grazed or cut annually for hay can be a prime candidate for deep rooting by

wild pigs. This scenario is very common and one of the most difficult to repair. This repair typically needs some sort of tillage, such as disking followed by pulling a drag, chain harrow, or rock/ stick rake to fill in holes and level the soil. Fortunately, bermudagrass will cover the soil quickly, as this method redistributes sprigs in filled holes. For very large areas that must be

tilled, consider planting desired vegetation afterward. Soil disturbance by wild pigs often can stimulate dormant weed seeds or leave fertile ground for seeds of undesirable or invasive plant species brought in on the pigs’ coats. Wild pigs regularly consume small grains before or shortly after germination, causing shallow rooting damage. Pigs can smell food inches under the soil. It is incredible how a wild pig will follow the planter row, picking up individual seeds in a straight line. You can multiply that damage when a whole sounder (group) of pigs visits the field. On pastures with conventional tillage, light tillage, or no tillage, and with limited standing forage, managers can fix wild-pig damage to ground recently sown with small grains by using a simple drag, arena drag, chain harrow, or cultipacker. •

To learn more about feral hogs, visit www.noble.org/news/feral-hogs/ and/or view the playlist of Noble Research Institute feral hog research videos: http://bit.ly/HFG-feralhogs.

How do you make the best even better? Start with revolutionary design features, like a split-box configuration, higher capacity, and innovative feeder cups that meter by shaft speed for greater accuracy. Then, add practical technology like DrillCommand® and hydraulic drive to execute variable-rate and prescription mapped seeding effortlessly from the tractor cab. As a result, you end up with the most productive, versatile, and operator-friendly box drill ever produced – the Great Plains BD7600.

“Harvest Starts Here.”

Visit GreatPlainsAg.com for more information and check out our BOLD new financing programs!

New Features. New Options. Endless Possibilities. Ensure that your farm has the best – ask your Great Plains dealer about the BD7600 today!

©2021 Great Plains Mfg.


F4 14-15 Apr-May 2021 Hogs.indd 3

April/May 2021 | hayandforage.com | 15

4/15/21 10:38 AM

Unconditioned (left) and conditioned (right) swaths. Note how the alfalfa stems align with the direction of cutting, making picking up with a merger more difficult.

Beat those hay-drying blues by Kevin Shinners and Matt Digman


APIDLY drying hay and forage to the desired moisture for safe conservation is both challenging and frustrating. Productive and efficient cutting equipment, rapid field drying, and timely harvest with cooperative weather are all needed to achieve a high-quality forage. Rapid drying to harvest moisture is most effectively accomplished by placing the crop in as wide of a swath as possible and by properly conditioning the crop to reduce the resistance of moisture leaving the plant. In the end, weather conditions will drive success or failure. The future of haymaking is understanding and managing this risk with decision-making tools that harness public and on-machine data. Depending upon yield and initial moisture, between 1,000 and 1,500 gallons of water must be evaporated per acre to get the crop ready for chopping at 65% moisture. To evaporate that much water, water vapor must exit either through the leaf stomata or by diffusion through the stem’s waxy cuticle. Moisture movement through open stomata is faster than through the cuticle. Right after cutting, the leaf stomata are open, promoting rapid water loss. However, research has shown that water vapor movement from the leaf stomata dropped dramatically within 15 to 30 minutes of cutting, and that 70% to 80% of the stem moisture

remains when stomata close. When the stomata close shortly after cutting, the rate of moisture loss rapidly declines as water vapor must leave through the stem’s waxy cutin. This is why mechanically conditioning to split or break the cuticle is so important to provide faster drying.

Always dried faster Conditioning at cutting is widely practiced, yet the benefits are seldom fully understood. Our research group has conducted many alfalfa drying studies over the last several decades. We often will include an unconditioned control treatment. When swath width and formation were similar, conditioning always resulted in faster drying (see Figure 1). This is true whether the intended harvest practice is haylage, baleage, or dry hay. Simply put, conditioning forage crops always resulted in shorter field drying time, even to haylage moisture. Conditioners will crack, crush, or abrade the stem so the resistance to water movement is reduced by breaks in the stem epidermis. Crimping rolls pass the crop between intermeshing, noncontacting rolls, which bend and crack the stem at intervals. Crushing rolls pass the crop through intermeshing rolls with small clearances, intermittently flattening the stem. Impeller conditioners use rotating fingers to abrade the stems. Comparisons between impeller and roll conditioners have shown that roll conditioners produce faster alfalfa drying while

impeller conditioners create faster drying of grasses. After conditioning, the most effective way to get a crop to dry faster is to place the crop in wide swaths. Laying the crop in a wide swath allows the drying crop to capture more of the solar energy, which raises the plant’s temperature to evaporate internal water. The sun’s energy increases the air’s water-holding capacity so the air surrounding the plant is less humid. Wide, uniform swaths also promote more air exchange around the plant, helping to reduce the chances of stagnant, humid air surrounding the drying plant. The ultimate in wide swath drying is tedding the crop after a short period of wilting. Tedding not only spreads the crop to cover the whole field but mixes and fluffs the crop, which promotes air movement. More producers are using tedders, even when making haylage, to reach chopping moisture sooner.

Modeling provides promise Regardless of following best practices for haymaking, rapidly changing weather conditions continue to impair our ability to maximize hay quality. Consequently, the next frontier in haymaking is predictive modeling of crop development and drying rates. These models will combine multiple data sources such as remote and on-machine sensing with crop growth rate, drying, and weather models. With predictive modeling, the goal is to provide a haymaking forecast. These forecasts would allow producers to perform what-if scenarios such as: What if I cut today? What if I tedded the crop? How would raking the crop influence time to baling? In addition to scheduling and what-if scenarios, the system would alert the

KEVIN SHINNERS AND MATT DIGMAN Shinners (pictured) and Digman are agricultural engineers with the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

16 | Hay & Forage Grower | April/May 2021

F4 16-17A Apr-May 2021 Hay Drying.indd 2

4/16/21 8:14 AM

Parting thoughts Finally, keep these practical mowing and conditioning considerations in mind: • The purchase price of a triple mower will be about 25% less without conditioners. • Conditioners add to repair and maintenance costs and will require more fuel per acre when mowing. • A longer harvest window at the desired moisture may result from not conditioning but at the risk of longer wilting duration to reach that moisture. • Drying to baleage moisture (45% to 55%) will be much more difficult without conditioning. Getting forage to dry to hay moisture will be very difficult without conditioning.

Figure 1. Second cutting alfalfa harvested with two identical mowers except that one had a roll conditioner and the other had no conditioner 80% 75% Moisture

producer of changing conditions. As a result, these systems might suggest an intervention such as tedding, raking, or use of a preservative. Ultimately, the goal is to enable the producer to evaluate the trade-offs between missing the optimal crop maturity and weather risk, thus improving the margins in hay production.

70% 65%

Uncond. - Windrow

60% 55%

Uncond. - Swath Cond. - Windrow


Cond. - Swath

45% 9:30am 10:30am 11:30am 12:30pm 1:30pm 2:30pm 3:30pm 4:30pm 5:30pm Elapsed time • Chopping cover crops such as ryelage is becoming more common. Conditioning helps moisture move from these thick-stemmed, slow-drying crops. • When there is no conditioner, the stems tend to lay aligned with the direction of travel. This

can lead to losses when merging because the pick-up teeth easily rake through the aligned stems. Cutting at a slight angle of 2 to 3 degrees can alleviate this problem, but this is not always an option in fields that are on the contour or irregularly shaped. •

Tell Us Your Rozol Story and get a Groovy T-Shirt

Whether it’s helping protect your crop, taking out a bad infestation, seeing results, or relying on Rozol for 50 years…we want to know. Tell us about your experience with any Rozol product, and we’ll send you a limited-edition t-shirt! We want to hear from you!

Visit Liphatech.com/Rozol50

Rozol Rockin'' Rebate For full rebate details visit

Earn $0.25 per pound, up to $500 on qualified Rozol Products Prairie Dog Bait*, Pocket Gopher Bait (PGB), Vole Bait*, Ground Squirrel Bait*, PGB Burrow Builder*, & Pellets.


*Restricted Use Pesticides


April/May 2021 | hayandforage.com | 17

F4 16-17A Apr-May 2021 Hay Drying.indd 3

4/15/21 10:45 AM

Forage, a caliper, and Mars by Paul Dyk


WALKED into a Northern Tool and Equipment store last year, which is somewhat of an unusual event. I’m not mechanically inclined, and my wife is always surprised when I can fix our dishwasher or change the car battery. I walked out with a caliper, not the fancy digital one, just a basic sliding metal caliper. Google tells me that they’ve been used for thousands of years, but it’s taken me 50 years to discover I need one. As forage season gets rolling, there is always a discussion about particle size — factors such as knife settings, rollers, and theoretical length of cut. Inevitably, someone grabs a handful of some haylage or corn silage and the conversation goes something like this: “How’s it look?” “Seems about right.” A few years ago, when photo images came back from Mars, everyone was amazed at the scenery with impressive boulders all around . . . at least until we were told these weren’t boulders but rather just small rocks on the sand. Perspective is difficult in photos unless you have a reference point. Four hundred-foot wind turbines don’t look that big until you see them next to a 90-foot silo.

Offering perspective Communication within a forage team is important, but how do we communicate? Texting has made the transfer of pictures easy. The person in the chopper or pack tractor can easily send pictures to the crew of a handful of silage, but does the person have the hands of the wrestling legend Andre the Giant or the basketball phenom Spud Webb? When we use a simple reference point that everyone can see, such as the caliper, we can begin to communicate more effectively. Are the leaves coming out of the chopper at 19 or 24 millimeters (mm)? The difference (5 mm) doesn’t seem like much, but for our high-producing cattle, it can be the difference between having enough effective fiber or not. Put another way . . . it’s the difference between buying and adding one-half pound of straw to the ration to keep the cows healthy, or not. Go out and measure some particle sizes.

changed in length at all. When you look at the forage with a caliper, you will see the average length of leaves might be in the ideal range regardless of what the PSPS indicates. So why not just use a standard ruler? A ruler might work, but I’m not sure that I want a 12-inch ruler in my pocket. The small plastic ones would likely snap every time I leaned over to tie my shoes. The thing I like about the caliper is the ability to put the forage between the jaws. It eliminates any optical illusion in pictures and doesn’t leave room for errors.

What’s the ideal?

A caliper can be used to both measure forage particle size and add perspective to photos.

Are you sure you could visually tell the difference between 19 and 24mm? For the nutritionist or agronomist, we need a simple and effective method during the push of the forage harvest to communicate. There are some that might advocate the use of a Penn State Particle Separator (PSPS). Different sizes of sieves allow us to see the length of the forage. This works okay, but it has its limitations. First, the chopper operator doesn’t have a PSPS to monitor progress across a week of chopping. Second, and especially for corn silage, the results can be misleading. From year-to-year, corn silage can range from 25% to 40% starch. Depending on moisture and processing, much of this starch may end up on the bottom pan of the PSPS. When we have a corn silage that is high in starch (40%), the bottom pan (and 4 mm screen) will be heavier. The “average” chop will seem to be smaller because of the grain, but in reality the leaves and stalks haven’t

The desired particle length should always be part of the forage team’s discussion before harvest begins. For corn silage, 19 to 21 mm on non-brown midrib (BMR) corn silage and 21 to 24 mm on BMR corn silage seems to work for many dairies. For haylage, it likely depends on whether it’s alfalfa, grass, or a cereal grain. The maturity of the crop also comes into play. Cereal grains are likely going to be chopped finer than haylage to ensure adequate packing. A mature sorghum-sudangrass crop is going to be chopped finer than a less mature one. A caliper can also help when evaluating hay. It’s easy to tell the difference between a thick-stemmed, 120 relative forage quality (RFQ) hay and a bale that’s 220 RFQ, but what about two hay samples closer to the middle? Again, think of Mars. Of course, the lab analysis is likely the starting point, but if you are marketing hay, a simple, quick picture with a caliper might more effectively communicate to the end user. They say a picture is worth a thousand words. Adding a caliper to your photo may just offer some additional text and perspective. •

PAUL DYK The author is a dairy nutrition consultant with GPS Dairy Consulting LLC and is based in Malone, Wis.

18 | Hay & Forage Grower | April/May 2021

F4 18 Apr-May 2021 Forage, Caliper and Mars.indd 2

4/16/21 8:19 AM

ADVANCED ALFALFA SEED VARIETIES plantnexgrow.com © 2021 Forage Genetics International, LLC Roundup Ready® is a registered trademark of Monsanto Technology LLC, used under license by Forage Genetics International, LLC. HarvXtra® is a registered trademark of Forage Genetics International, LLC. HarvXtra® Alfalfa with Roundup Ready® Technology and Roundup Ready® Alfalfa are subject to planting and use restrictions. Visit ForageGenetics.com/legal for the full legal, stewardship and trademark statements for these products. NEXGROW is a registered trademark of Forage Genetics International, LLC.



ANAGING bale moisture is an important consideration in properly conserving high-quality baled silages for subsequent cash sale or use in livestock feeding operations. However, there are probably more aspects to this issue than are normally considered. It has long been understood that a major driver within any silage fermentation is forage moisture, but is that always good? If not, when is it a problem? Why? Can baled silages be too dry? Why, or why not? Unfortunately, the answers to these questions are not simple.

Moisture drives fermentation Most producers understand that the main goal within any silage fermentation is to exclude air and to produce (primarily) lactic acid from plant sugars, which makes the resulting silage more acidic and usually more stable. Figure 1 illustrates the relationship between the production of lactic acid and initial bale moisture gleaned from 283 grass, alfalfa-grass, or alfalfa baled

silages made as part of 10 research studies at the University of Wisconsin’s Marshfield Agricultural Research Station. The normal target for moisture in baled silages ranges between 45% and 55%, which is highlighted in green in the figure. The data are somewhat scattered because the forage species and/or species composition varied widely across studies, and numerous treatments were atypical or intentionally mismanaged to meet the objectives of individual experiments. Despite this inherent variation across bales, a curvilinear (quadratic) response curve explained about two-thirds (R2 = 0.66) of the variation in lactic acid. One distinguishing feature of this overall response is the low or even nondetectable concentrations of lactic acid in most bales made at lower moisture concentrations than the minimum threshold of the recommended range (45%; see red circle). It should be noted that these bales were not necessarily poorly preserved, nor was their feeding value compromised; however, it does mean that preservation was largely accomplished by excluding

air. Since little acid was produced in these bales, the added stability from an acidic (depressed) pH was mostly nonexistent. Once bales reached the recommended range for initial moisture, the production of lactic and other fermentation acids increased at an accelerated rate.

Dry silage can work Some years ago, Richard Muck (now retired from the U.S. Dairy Forage Research Center) offered the comment in the Journal of Dairy Science that fermentation (or decreasing pH) was relatively unimportant in preserving high-quality dry silages (less than 45% moisture). While this comment was offered in an era dominated by upright oxygen-limiting silos, the same prin-

WAYNE COBLENTZ The author is a USDA-ARS research scientist at the U.S. Dairy Forage Research Center, Marshfield, Wis.

20 | Hay & Forage Grower | April/May 2021

F4 20-22 Apr-May 2021 Baleage fermentation.indd 2

4/15/21 3:10 PM

Not all forages are equally susceptible to clostridial activity because they differ with respect to fermentable substrate (plant sugars), buffering capacity (inherent resistance to pH change), possible contamination by dirt or manure, and many other factors. For these reasons, alfalfa and other legumes are more at risk than most cool-season grasses that generally have more sugar, and they are less heavily buffered. In addition, direct-cut, wet forages are particularly at risk, and a very common recommendation for avoiding clostridial fermentations is simply to wilt the forage before ensiling. A rapid pH decline and a low (acidic) terminal pH also are beneficial in controlling clostridial activity, although neither is improved by excessive wilting. Historically, avoidance of undesirable secondary fermentations has been an important research topic throughout northern Europe, where ensiling direct-cut or wet forages has been more commonplace than in North America. Typical recommendations for precision-chopped silages are not to exceed 70% moisture at harvest, both to avoid clostridial activity as well as to prevent

homogenize the forage. This mixing occurs with respect to species composition from mixed swards but also, and more importantly, with respect to moisture. Poorly wilted forages from swales, ditches, or under tree lines are effectively blended with drier material obtained from other parts of the field. This does not occur for baled silages, in which moisture or heavy concentrations of legumes can be isolated in specific portions of the bale, which enhances localized risks of undesirable fermentations within those bales. The potential problem is theoreticontinued on following page >>>

Figure 1. Relationship between lactic acid production and bale moisture for 283 baled silages. 5.0 4.5 Lactic acid, % of DM

Wet baleage creates problems

effluent losses. As described previously, this upper management threshold is lower or drier (55%) for baled silages. The previously discussed practical considerations of excessive bale weight (safety and transport), as well as the sometimes problematic mechanical nature of baling wet forages, contribute to the recommendation. Another major difference between silage types is the heterogeneous nature of baled silages. During the ensiling of precision-chopped forages, the actions of chopping, blowing into a wagon or truck, layering in a bunker, or blowing into an upright silo all act to


Y = 0.0013 x2 -0.040 x R2 = 0.66

3.5 3.0 2.5 2.0 1.5 1.0 0.5 0.0 25






Bale moisture, %

Figure 2. Relationship between total fermentation acids and bale moisture for 283 baled silages. Red markers indicate bales with concentrations of butyric acid greater than 0.25%. 7 Total fermentation acids, % of DM

ciple applies for relatively dry baled silages, and this concept has been recognized by some producers. There are several practical reasons why relatively dry silages are at least somewhat attractive. One such reason is the weight of silage bales; a 4x4-foot silage bale can weigh in excess of 1,500 pounds and represents a legitimate safety issue when undersized tractors and other equipment are used during transport, especially over uneven terrain. Secondly, most state-of-the-art balers, even those designed specifically for baled silages, are at least coequally built to bale dry hay, and they generally handle dry forages better than wet ones. While these reasons remain relevant today, they are probably less significant than they were a quarter-century ago, when baled silage technologies were relatively new. However, the most important reason for limiting the moisture concentration in baled silages is the need to avoid secondary clostridial fermentations. Telltale signs of this type of activity are the production of butyric acid and ammonia, both of which are undesirable.

6 Y = 0.0019 x2 -0.048 x R2 = 0.69

5 4 3 2 1 25






Bale moisture, % April/May 2021 | hayandforage.com | 21

F4 20-22 Apr-May 2021 Baleage fermentation.indd 3

4/15/21 11:01 AM







0.6 8 0.4 4

0.2 0.0

NH3-N, % of N

Butyric acid, % of DM

Figure 3. Concentrations of butyric acid and ammonia-N (NH3-N) from two alfalfa silages.

Silage 1

Silage 2 ■ Butyric acid


■ NH3-N

Figure 4. Voluntary intakes (% of bodyweight) of dry matter and organic matter from two alfalfa silages and offered to gestating sheep. 2.60 DM or OM intake, % BW

cally greater for large square bales, where forage from one portion of the field is physically separated from that obtained from another part of the field based on the order it entered the bale chamber; for round bales, forage is added in layers around the entire bale circumference, providing at least some distribution. Figure 2 illustrates some of these points for the 283 research bales made in Marshfield, Wis., over the last decade, which were summarized for lactic acid concentrations previously. In this figure, the pooled concentration of all fermentation acids is plotted against initial bale moisture, again yielding a curvilinear (quadratic) relationship in which bale moisture explains just over two-thirds (R2 = 0.69) of the variability in the data set. Markers filled in red further indicate bales with concentrations of butyric acid greater than or equal to 0.25%. While management recommendations indicating problematic silages differ somewhat by source, this concentration of butyric acid is greater than often deemed acceptable, and it is a sensitive indicator of clostridial activity. Among the 78 bales made at greater than 55% moisture, 52 bales exceeded this 0.25% threshold. Obviously, the relationship of clostridial activity with bale moisture is not binary, and a continuum of responses exist. An obvious question might be — “Why do we care?” In severe cases, there is significant loss of dry matter and potential refusal by livestock. One form of clostridia (Clostridium tyrobutyricum) is associated with “late blowing,” a form of spoilage in some cheeses. In less severe cases, voluntary dry matter intake is impaired or restricted. This point is illustrated in Figures 3 and 4, where two baled alfalfa silages made at Marshfield were compared for concentrations of ammonia-nitrogen (NH3 -N) and butyric acid (Figure 3), and later offered to gestating sheep to assess voluntary intakes of dry and organic matter at the University of Arkansas (Figure 4). Both silages had greater concentrations of secondary fermentation products than considered acceptable, but Silage 2 had only two-thirds the concentration of butyric acid found in Silage 1. After processing and offering to sheep, respective voluntary intakes of dry and organic matter were greater

2.40 2.20 2.00 1.80 1.60 Silage 1 ■ Dry matter

by 0.17% and 0.14% of bodyweight for Silage 2 compared to Silage 1.

Inoculants may help Oftentimes, questions are asked about using inoculants to improve the fermentation of baled silages. Some producers do this routinely with good success, but many (and probably most) do not. Unlike precision-chopped silages, the restricted nature of fermentation in baled silages begs legitimate questions about how much benefit might be attained from encouraging a more aggressive fermentation within this silage type. There are a few situations where lactic-acid producing inoculants might be beneficial. These include: 1. Ensiling any forage that has had

Silage 2 ■ Organic matter dairy slurry or other manure sources applied during the growth cycle. 2. Ensiling any forage that exceeds the typical recommended moisture range (45% to 55%), which can be necessary due to an oncoming rain storm. 3. Any forage that is compromised by rain damage or other factors, thereby creating a lack of fermentable substrate. Warm-season perennials are especially problematic in this last regard, and several Southeastern universities have made good efforts to address this issue. While most of these suggestions are quite logical, they are (unfortunately) also somewhat speculative, and not really supported by a good body of repeatable research. There is still much to learn. •

22 | Hay & Forage Grower | April/May 2021

F4 20-22 Apr-May 2021 Baleage fermentation.indd 4

4/15/21 11:02 AM

PUT YOUR FORAGES TO THE TEST Forage growers across the country are invited to participate in the 2021 World Forage Analysis Superbowl. Award-winning samples will be displayed in the newly-renovated Trade Center at World Dairy Expo in Madison, Wisconsin, Sept. 28 – Oct. 2. Winners will be announced during the Brevant seeds Forage Superbowl Luncheon on Wednesday, Sept. 29.

ENTRIES DUE JULY 15 Standard Corn Silage Brown Midrib Corn Silage

Alfalfa Haylage Baleage Commercial Hay Dairy Hay Grass Hay Mixed/Grass Haylage

Contest rules and entry forms are available at foragesuperbowl.org, by calling Dairyland Laboratories at (920) 336-4521 or by contacting any of the sponsors listed below.

Photo Credit: Krista Ann Photo + Film Co.


$26,000 in cash prizes made possible by these generous sponsors:

World Forage Analysis Superbowl organizing partners: Dairyland Laboratories, Inc., Hay & Forage Grower, University of Wisconsin-Extension, U.S. Dairy Forage Research Center, World Dairy Expo



ARGE round bales are the preferred form of haymaking in many parts of the U.S., but they are difficult to load and process in mixer wagons unless the bales are first put through a grinder to reduce stem particle size. However, grinding leads to additional dry matter losses and costs. Several equipment manufacturers offer round balers equipped with precutters, which reduce the particle size of the forage fraction at the time of baling. A recent study by Kansas State University evaluated if precut bales could be put directly into a mixer wagon and eliminate the need for tub grinding. Mike Brouk, an extension dairy nutritionist with Kansas State, led the study and presented the results during the Alfalfa U webinar series. The trial was conducted on four different Nebraska farms, but the same protocols were used at each location. The researchers made one bale with the precutter knives engaged and then one without, using the same John

Deere baler and tension settings. They did this until six cut and six uncut bales had been made at each farm. The knives were spaced 6 inches apart, and the researchers didn’t see any difference in the amount of forage material left on the ground after a baler pass between the two baling options.

Heavier precut bales Across all of the farms, the netwrapped bales made with the knives engaged weighed significantly more than the uncut bales (see Figure 1). “As particle size was reduced within these bales because of the cutting action of the knives, we were able to pack more material into each of those bales,” Brouk said. “We also determined that the precut bales had a slightly greater bale density. This could lead to more efficiency in the hayfield if you don’t have to bale and handle as many bales, assuming all other baler settings are equal.” Brouk found no difference in the baling rate, so using a precutter didn’t slow down the baling process in terms of pounds of dry matter baled per minute. A precut baler does require more

tractor horsepower, which results in greater fuel consumption. “We did see a very slight increase in both acid detergent fiber (ADF) and neutral detergent fiber (NDF) in the cut bales compared to the uncut bales right after baling,” Brouk noted. “I don’t have a good explanation for this, but the difference wasn’t large enough that we would see animal performance differences during feeding. It could have just been some sampling error. Neutral detergent fiber digestibility at 240 hours did not differ between the two treatments,” he added. All of the bales, cut and uncut, were stored outside at each farm for five to six months. Although not statistically significant, the cut bales had about 1% less storage shrink than their uncut

KELSEY PAGEL The author is a freelance writer and farmer based in northeastern Kansas.

24 | Hay & Forage Grower | April/May 2021

F4 24-25 Apr-May 2021 Precutter.indd 2

4/16/21 8:23 AM

Figure 1: Effect of using a baler precutter on bale weight


P < 0.001



P < 0.001


1,000 800 600 400


P < 0.001


P < 0.04


P < 0.001


200 0


% of total DM

Bale weight, lbs. DM


Figure 2: Effect of processing method on forage particle size after screening with a Penn State Particle Separator

0 Uncut


counterparts. Presumably, this was because they were denser and shed water more efficiently, Brouk theorized.

Larger losses, finer particles The uncut bales were first weighed, processed in a tub grinder, and then conveyed into a mixer wagon for a final weight measurement. The cut bales went directly into the mixer wagon for processing without any prior grinding. “We really wanted to see if we could eliminate the grinding step with cut bales,” Brouk said. The research team found that it took four minutes per uncut bale for the tub grinder to process and unload, and it took 11 minutes for a cut bale to be processed by the mixer wagon. They didn’t try to put an uncut bale directly into the mixer wagon, but Brouk asserted that the processing time would have been greater than the time needed for a cut bale. After analyzing processed bale weights, Brouk found that the cut bales had less than 2% dry matter loss or about 20 pounds per bale after processing in the mixer wagon. The uncut bales that went through the tub grinder had an 8% dry matter loss, which was the equivalent of 73 pounds of dry matter per bale. This equated to about $8 per bale savings in dry matter for the precut bales. “It’s important to note that this is just the processing loss,” Brouk emphasized. “Many producers grind enough hay through a tub grinder for a week or more at one time. The dry matter losses we measured do not account for the further loss of dry matter that is incurred by sitting in the weather elements until it is fed.” After the bales were put through their respective processing, the forage material was unloaded from the mixer wagon into a windrow on the ground. Samples were collected at various points along these windrows and analyzed using a Penn State Particle Separator (see Figure 2). “There were significantly fewer fine particles and significantly more fiber particles greater than three-quarters of an inch for the cut bales put directly into the mixer wagon compared to the uncut bales that first went through the tub grinder,” Brouk noted. “The fiber that is greater than three-quarters of an inch is associated with increased rumi-

Screen 1

Screen 2 ■ Norm-grind

Screen 3 ■ Cut-mix


nation. This is especially important for livestock that are on a high-concentrate diet,” he added. Brouk concluded that a baler precutter does offer some advantages in terms of being able to skip the tub grinding step and save on the dry matter losses that occur both during processing and storage. •

April/May 2021 | hayandforage.com | 25

F4 24-25 Apr-May 2021 Precutter.indd 3

4/15/21 11:05 AM


Finding tools to fight spring black stem Hay & Forage Grower is featuring results of research projects funded through the Alfalfa Checkoff, officially named the U.S. Alfalfa Farmer Research Initiative, administered by National Alfalfa & Forage Alliance (NAFA). The Checkoff program facilitates farmer-funded research.


ESEARCHERS could be one step closer to finding ways to combat spring black stem and leaf spot (SBS), a fungal disease that reduces quality and yield in alfalfa. Recent Alfalfa Checkoff-funded research may give alfalfa breeders more information to develop cultivars with improved resistance to SBS. But that’s a bit down the road, says Brian Irish, the geneticist conducting the work. Irish is with the Agricultural Research Service Plant Germplasm Introduction Testing and Research Unit in Prosser, Wash. Irish had heard alfalfa industry representatives discussing the disease, which causes severe defoliation and crop losses, especially in alfalfa spring growth. It is a probBRIAN IRISH lem particularly in $47,000 the Midwest but can also be found in other regions with cool, wet weather early in the year. Few modern alfalfa cultivars show more than moderate resistance to SBS, according to Deborah Samac, an ARS-USDA research plant pathologist collaborating with Irish on this project. Fungicide control options are effective but do not always have a positive return on investment, and if farmers harvest alfalfa early where disease pressure is severe, they potentially reduce yield, Irish added. “So my ears perked up about this being an important plant pathogen of alfalfa for which better management strategies were needed, and the best way to manage any disease, in my opinion, is by innate plant disease resistance incorporated into the crop,” he said. With Checkoff funding, Irish and his team hoped to find enhanced sources of resistance to SBS by performing disease reaction screening experiments.

But first, there were hurdles to face. The standard test inoculation protocol developed to screen alfalfa for disease reaction and selection wasn’t working out. “The procedure as followed didn’t produce the right outcomes, so we had to optimize it – play around with it,” Irish said. By significantly reducing the concentration of fungal spores applied to plants, the researchers could distinguish differences between moderately resistant and susceptible cultivars. The standard check cultivar Lahontan will be recommended as a susceptible reference. “Lahontan melts when we

These greenhouse alfalfa germplasm selections are resistant to the disease.

inoculate with this disease; it just does not like it and is very susceptible,” the researcher said. Other standard check cultivars showed improved resistance, but more than 14,000 plants of 79 different cultivars had to be screened in replicated greenhouse trials. “We identified several cultivars that were more resistant than the suggested moderately resistant reference. When we propose modifications to the test protocol, we will suggest the use of more resistant materials as references,” he said.

Power in numbers A total of 189 lines or accessions corresponding to 68 different species in the Medicago genus, considered related to alfalfa (Medicago sativa), were also screened. “The idea was, if we screen through many different species that are related to alfalfa, we might find sources of disease resistance that we don’t find in the M. sativa pool. It is possible that other alfalfa-related species have disease resistance that can be bred into alfalfa,” Irish said. “These evaluations were also carried out in replications – multiple lines repeated to strengthen the evidence

This plant shows susceptibility to spring black stem and leaf spot.

PROJECT RESULTS 1. Optimized inoculation protocols for fungal species causing SBS in alfalfa were developed. 2. Standard check cultivars were evaluated, a few showed increased resistance, and a substitute reference cultivar(s) will be proposed. A large number of disease-resistant plants were selected for improved SBS disease resistant population development. 3. Alfalfa relatives were screened for disease reaction to SBS and several were found to be more resistant than the moderately resistant reference cultivars. 4. More than 2,800 alfalfa germplasm lines were screened for SBS disease reaction and a large group of plants were selected for their low disease reaction rating and for improvement.

26 | Hay & Forage Grower | April/May 2021

F4 26-27 Apr-May 2021 Alfalfa Checkoff.indd 1

4/15/21 11:17 AM

of findings. We did find that several of these species were considerably more resistant, even when compared to the best-performing alfalfa we found.” Finally, in a “most laborious process,” said Irish, a large group of alfalfa germplasm was systematically screened for disease resistance to SBS. More than 2,800 unique alfalfa germplasm lines from the National Plant Germplasm System were screened for SBS resis-

tance in non-replicated trials. “Many of the lines screened outperformed the moderately resistant standard check cultivars, particularly when they originated from cooler regions of the world and environments,” he said. In continued research, Irish and his team have made selections and plan to continue to breed the materials found to be disease resistant. “We are going to perform directed crosses, and we will

screen progeny for disease reaction to try to improve resistance further. This improved germplasm will eventually be released and made available to the public,” he added. “I know some in the breeding community are interested in what we are doing. They could approach us about screening some of their advanced lines, or we could just demonstrate the modifications and show them how to implement the protocol.” •

SUPPORT THE ALFALFA CHECKOFF! Buy your seed from these facilitating marketers: Alfalfa Partners - S&W Alforex Seeds America’s Alfalfa Channel CROPLAN DEKALB Dyna-Gro Fontanelle Hybrids Forage First FS Brand Alfalfa Gold Country Seed Hubner Seed Jung Seed Genetics Kruger Seeds Latham Hi-Tech Seeds Legacy Seeds Lewis Hybrids NEXGROW Pioneer Prairie Creek Seed Rea Hybrids Simplot Grower Solutions Specialty Stewart Stone Seed W-L Alfalfas

Artisanal cheese delivered right to your door. FARM CREAMERY ™




W N,


www.HoardsCreamery.com/store Free 2 day shipping on orders over $70 to anywhere in the lower 48 states. Free shipping to Japan on orders over $140.

April/May 2021 | hayandforage.com | 27

F4 26-27 Apr-May 2021 Alfalfa Checkoff.indd 2

4/15/21 11:21 AM

by C.J. Weddle


ICHOLAS Gutierrez made his appearance in the forage world as a teenager competing in the World Forage Analysis Forage Superbowl at World Dairy Expo in Madison, Wis. The Wyomingite’s 2019 Forage Superbowl entry not only placed high, as it usually does, but it won the Commercial Hay division. When entered under a 17-year old’s name, questions sometimes arise as to who is actually doing the work to make the hay. But if you ever have the opportunity to chat with Nicholas about his family’s hay farm, you will soon learn that he is just as involved as his parents, Jason and Elizabeth, and he has been for a while.

Starting young Nicholas’ first farming experience happened when he was 3 years old. Instead of picking up toys like his mother asked, Nicholas escaped the confines of his room and managed to make his way into the field behind his house to join his father in the tractor. After the initial panic settled, Elizabeth and Jason concluded that their son needed his tractor time.

“In seventh grade, I was recruited to our FFA chapter by one of my friends,” Nicholas shared. “I really enjoyed spending time with the members and participating in our service projects.” During the 2020 to 2021 school year, Nicholas will serve his chapter as a second-year officer before graduating in the spring. Involvement in his school’s chapter of the National FFA organization (FFA) throttled Nicholas into the agronomic and business side of haymaking. During his freshman year, he completed one of many research projects for his supervised agricultural experience (SAE).

Win some, lose some Many hay farmers claim that you will pay for a hay barn whether you build one or not, and Nicholas is one of many that has the research to prove it. His SAE won at the Wyoming FFA state convention and went on to place at the national level. His research documented the importance of covering hay to preserve quality and monetary value. “It was an easy argument to make,” Nicholas stated. “When you compared the stored bales to the weathered ones, you can see the

All photos C.J. Weddle

A GOOD CASE OF HAY FEVER damage and loss, which impacted how much it was worth.” FFA doesn’t currently have a contest division dedicated to hay, so Nicholas competes against many other more specialized SAEs. This doesn’t stop him from making a name for himself or his work. “Some of my judges are dairymen or haymakers from other parts of the country, and they can relate to my forage projects,” Nicholas explained. His recent SAE on correcting the pH of alkaline soils on his farm earned him another trip to the National FFA convention. Nicholas also enters hay samples at the contest held during the Wyoming State Fair, which is how he was introduced to the Forage Superbowl in Wisconsin. Each year, an allotted number of winners in each division advance from the state fair to the Forage Superbowl. C.J. WEDDLE The author was the 2020 Hay & Forage Grower summer editorial intern. She currently attends Mississippi State University and is majoring in agricultural education, leadership, and communications.

28 | Hay & Forage Grower | April/May 2021

F4 28-29 Apr-May 2021 Hay Fever.indd 2

4/15/21 3:05 PM

Jason described how difficult it is for Nicholas to balance work and school. “It’s hard anytime you miss school to keep up with the work,” he said. “But when you’re missing a week at a time, it’s almost impossible. “Nicholas was committed to going to National FFA convention in 2019, which meant he couldn’t go to World Dairy Expo, too,” Jason explained. “Sure enough, that’s the year his entry won.”

First-generation farmers Jason and Elizabeth met at the University of Wyoming, and neither have backgrounds with production farming. Before college and marrying Jason, Elizabeth lived on her parents’ small farm where she cared for her horses that moved with her from Minnesota to Wyoming. If Jason was going to marry Elizabeth, who also works as a pharmacist, he knew that keeping horses was non-negotiable. Jason decided then that he would grow the hay to feed them. “It seemed silly to buy the hay when we could come here, buy a farm, and raise our own,” he explained. So, the young couple bought 80 acres outside of Casper, Wyo., and began their hay business. There was an existing hayfield, but other than that it was a bare piece of land. “We added all the structures,” Elizbeth said. “It didn’t even have utilities when we bought the place.” Now, several buildings, fences, irrigation systems, and a house are on the original 80 acres. The previous owners were both fulltime engineers but maintained the producing hayfield. Jason recalled the advice they shared: “Get the Idaho Forage Handbook and start reading.” “We didn’t have anyone to consult with when we first started, so we read the research and trusted the science,” Elizabeth remarked. “It’s worked for us so far. We consider our performance, look at the science, and then make decisions based on that.”

Obtaining supreme quality Intense management and ideal conditions are not the only factors playing into the Supreme quality hay produced at Rooster Ranch. In addition to Nicholas’ work to correct soil pH, the family makes decisions about seed varieties, fertilizer, weed and pest management, and marketing. “It takes the same amount of time and money to prepare the land for an alfalfa stand planted to cheap seed or a proven, new variety,” Jason explained.

The Gutierrez family: Nicholas, William (in front), Jason, and Elizabeth.

In recent years, they have selected alfalfa seed with HarvXtra and Roundup Ready genetics. The Roundup Ready trait allows them to manage weeds in a cost-effective way. “Anything will compete with and possibly overtake alfalfa,” Jason remarked. “Being able to spray Roundup and take the weeds out helps us produce cleaner alfalfa hay.” As a member of the Weed and Pest Board in his county, Jason also believes that addressing grasshoppers before they are a real issue helps improve the bottom line. “Some years there’s noticeable damage three windrows into the field,” he asserted. During the past growing season, they treated hayfields for grasshoppers three times. As for fertilizer, the family has experimented with liquid applications in the spring but were not impressed with the results, which is why they prefer to use granular in the fall. The winter moisture draws the nutrients into the soil, and they are available to plants from the beginning of the growing season.

The logistics Although Jason and Elizabeth bought the hay farm in 2004 to provide for the horses, it has grown into much more. They began producing more hay than her horses could eat in a year, so the surplus became a cash crop for the couple. “Someone baled for us the first couple of years and kept a percentage of the hay,” Jason explained. “Even then we had more than enough to compete in the hay market.” For a while, the family made deliveries to local farms. They would bundle together orders of 175 to 200 small square bales on a trailer, drive to the destination, and unload the bales. Baling everything in small squares at first, Rooster Ranch fit into the horse hay market nicely. “We have high-quality hay here,” Jason shared. “Warm days and cool nights are great for alfalfa,” he continued. “If you can

get enough water on it, you can make excellent hay.” Winning multiple highly competitive hay contests only supports his statement. These days, Jason maximizes the marketability of first cutting by making round bales. “It’s sometimes a little bit lower in quality, but we have several beef producers in the area,” he said. “They don’t need the Supreme quality, don’t want to pay the premium for it, and don’t want to hassle with small squares. Using round bales eliminates a lot of those issues.” The Supreme quality hay that comes with later cuttings is mostly baled in small squares as horse hay.

Adding on The Rooster Ranch operation has grown considerably in terms of acres over the last 16 years. Their hayfields total 180 acres of pure alfalfa and 120 acres of mixed grass. Additionally, the family leases standing hay from neighboring farms each year. Jason and Elizabeth also manage a 65-cow beef herd, which Nicholas and his younger brother, William, help with. Even though the family has a consistent demand for hay, some bales just don’t meet the mark. “Our cattle absorb that loss,” Jason mentioned. “Beef cows do not need Supreme quality hay year-round.” In the off chance that hay gets rained on between cutting and baling, those bales are directed to their own herd. “The cattle are not my favorite part of the farm,” Nicholas admits, but he said they complement hay farming extremely well. “You can’t hay all year, and cattle don’t need your full, undivided attention during hay season.”

A future in farming Hay farming has always been an important part of Nicholas’ life, and although he doesn’t plan to be a fulltime farmer in the future, he can’t imagine a day that it won’t be a substantial part of his adult life. After graduating high school, he plans to go to community college before attending the University of Wyoming to pursue a degree in engineering. As of now, he is leaning toward civil engineering and would like to earn a lineman certification as well. Nicholas takes pride in being able to work with his hands and experience the fruits of his labor. “Come springtime, you start to get an itch,” Nicholas laughed. “The only way to satisfy it is tractor time in a hayfield.” • April/May 2021 | hayandforage.com | 29

F4 28-29 Apr-May 2021 Hay Fever.indd 3

4/15/21 10:18 AM

Let crabgrass be your friend by Deidre Harmon


N THE last few years, crabgrass has quickly become one of my favorite forages because of its nutritive value, palatability, and versatility. My fascination for it started during my work as a graduate student at the University of Georgia. While at Georgia, my graduate research involved evaluating four warm-season annual forage systems for forage-finishing cattle. Cattle grazed treatments of sorghum-sudangrass, brown midrib sorghum-sudangrass, pearl millet, or a pearl millet and crabgrass mixture. There were three characteristics about crabgrass that really stuck with me following this project. First, I noticed that crabgrass acted as a complimentary forage, filling in all the bare spots between pearl millet plants. It really competed well with pasture weeds. Second, during dry periods and the drought of 2016, crabgrass was able to make use of small showers that barely moistened the top layer of soil. I presume that crabgrass, with its shallow root system and ability to root at each node on the plant, could make use of what small amount of moisture was available. Lastly, I found that not only was crabgrass easy to manage, but cattle would selectively graze the crabgrass first. I also saw this selectivity in other pasture systems where naturally occurring crabgrass was found. Collectively, my experience with crabgrass as a graduate student and the favorable characteristics that I observed during that time has really laid the foundation for crabgrass being a musthave species in my forage toolbox.

In my travels around the state of North Carolina and across the Southeast, I often see many confused or disgusted looks on faces when conversing about planting crabgrass. Crabgrass has had a stigma of being a weed for many years.

Not grandpa’s crabgrass Its negative stigma probably came from crabgrass’ persistence in cultivated crops, flower gardens, and manicured lawns and golf courses where it is an unwanted grass species. However, as a forage for livestock, it is a great option; consider yourself lucky if you find naturally occurring crabgrass on your farm. However, this naturally occurring crabgrass has not been selected for favorable forage attributes as our new or improved varieties have. The first improved variety of crabgrass was released in 1988 by R.L. Dalyrmple and the Noble Research Institute. This variety, called Red River, was selected for its yield potential and quality attributes. The variety was selected from a parent plant found growing in upland soils north of the Red River in Oklahoma. Since the release of Red River, we now have four other commercially available varieties of improved crabgrass on the market. A variety called Quick N Big was the second released variety by Dalyrmple and came on the market in 2006. Quick N Big is known to be an earlier maturing variety than Red River. Since then, Dalyrmple, also known as the godfather of crabgrass, has trademarked two other varieties called Quick N Big Spreader and Dals Big River. The Noble Research Institute has also released a variety called Impact in 2019 and sold the rights to Barenbrug, which is currently marketing the variety in a

blend with Red River under the brand name Mojo. Crabgrass has been building momentum in the last couple of years, and I suspect that it is due to the raving reviews by those brave enough to try something “off the wall.” Improved varieties of crabgrass can produce as much as 5 tons per acre when moisture is not limited, and cattle will selectively graze it over fescue, bahiagrass, or bermudagrass. Forage from crabgrass is very palatable, highly digestible, and may be the easiest to manage of all the summer annuals.

Seed for success Crabgrass forage ranges from 11% to 15.5% crude protein (CP) and 58% to 63% total digestible nutrients (TDN). Depending on where you live in the Southeast, the productive season is generally from May through October, though most of the forage will be produced in late summer. Crabgrass can be planted whenever the soil temperature reaches 65°F and can be drilled or broadcasted. Seed crabgrass at a rate of 4 to 6 pounds per acre from April through June and no deeper than 1/4 of an inch. Care should be taken when planting crabgrass to ensure that the seed flows through the drill or spreader. Uncoated crabgrass seed is light and fluffy and the seed often builds up static electricity, which causes it to cling to metal or

DEIDRE HARMON The author is an extension livestock specialist with North Carolina State University and is based at the Mountain Research Station near Waynesville, N.C.

30 | Hay & Forage Grower | April/May 2021

F3 30-31 Apr-May 2021 Crabgrass.indd 2

4/16/21 8:31 AM

Variety: P = 0.65 Seeding method: P = 0.77 Variety x seeding method: P = 0.37

4,000 3,000 2,000 1,000

o oj M

ct pa

ad re Sp B







ig kN

g Bi


ve r Ri

ve r Ri Da



Re d

There are many reasons why crabgrass may be beneficial across a wide range of forage and livestock production systems. However, very little research has been done on this forage, especially when compared to more traditional forages such as alfalfa, bermudagrass, or tall fescue. As crabgrass continues to build momentum in the Southeast, we have set our sights in North Carolina on answering three simple crabgrass questions: 1. Which crabgrass variety is best? 2. Should it be drilled or broadcasted? 3. Can crabgrass be stockpiled for deferred grazing like other forages? To answer the first two questions, a crabgrass variety trial was conducted at the Mountain Research Station in Waynesville, N.C., in the summer of 2020. Six crabgrass varieties (Red River, Dals Big River, Quick-N-Big, Quick-NBig Spreader, Mojo, and Impact) were planted in small plots and either no-till drilled or broadcasted. The broadcasted planting method consisted of first rototilling the plots prior to broadcasting the seed, and then plots were firmed with a cultipacker to ensure good seed-to-soil contact. During the growing season, unfavorable and unusual cloudy and wet weather allowed for only one harvest of crabgrass, which likely impacted total yields. Nonetheless, there was no difference in forage yield among any of the crabgrass varieties (see Figure 1) The average yield equaled 2,525 pounds of dry matter per acre. Furthermore, crabgrass yields did not differ between broadcasting seed or no-till drilling.

Figure 1. Forage yield of six crabgrass varieties averaged over two seeding methods Yield (lbs. DM/acre)

Questions to answer

tion, but supplemental energy would need to be provided. Crabgrass forage has great potential to extend the grazing season and provide nutrient-dense forage to livestock. If you are interested in trying something out-of-the-box that will have your neighbors with manicured lawns scratching their heads, then crabgrass is worth a try. We hope to continue our crabgrass research for several years and look forward to sharing future results. •

Figure 2. Crude protein and total digestible nutrients of crabgrass stockpiled and harvested on the 1st and 15th of each month from September through December 15 a 14 Crude Protein (%)

plastic surfaces. Mixing lime, sand, or some other carrier that is uniform and of similar size to the seed in a 2:1 ratio with crabgrass seed can help ensure it will flow satisfactorily. Another desirable attribute of crabgrass is that it is a prolific seed producer, and, if managed properly, where seed is allowed to drop in late summer or fall, will build up a seedbank and reseed itself for the following year. Although we have little data on this practice, we have observed that planting crabgrass for several years in a row will help to build up the seed bank, and scratching or disturbing the surface in early spring will help the seed to germinate. This can be done with a disc harrow, drag, or other soil preparation tools.










Stockpiling potential


The second project, a crabgrass stockpiling trial, came to fruition after visiting several farms that were interseeding crabgrass into existing and thinning tall fescue stands. Since cattle will selectively graze crabgrass instead of tall fescue, these producers were effectively stockpiling the tall fescue without removing any animals. We were interested in determining how long crabgrass could hold its value into the fall and winter months, and if it had the potential to be used for deferred grazing to help further stockpile fescue and extend the grazing season. This past fall, crabgrass forage was allowed to stockpile and was harvested on the 1st and 15th of each month from September through December. As expected, CP and TDN, along with several minerals, decreased from September 1 to December 15 (see Figure 2). At first harvest, the crabgrass forage contained 14% CP and 54% TDN, which would meet the energy needs and exceed the protein needs of a cow in mid-lactation. By the last harvest in mid-December, CP had dropped to 10.5% and TDN had declined to 46%. Even in December, crabgrass forage has the potential to exceed the protein needs of a cow in mid-lacta-

8 1-Sep

56 Total digestible nutrients (%)


54 a


Letters indicate statistical significance






a b

52 50 48

c c

46 44 42 40 1-Sep


Letters indicate statistical significance




April/May 2021 | hayandforage.com | 31

F3 30-31 Apr-May 2021 Crabgrass.indd 3

4/15/21 10:16 AM


by Mike Brouk worth 45 cents per pound, then we are adding $9 per ton for every 1-point bump in CP concentration. Every $50 per ton increase in the price of CP results in a $1 per ton improvement in the value of the alfalfa CP.

What will you do?

Mike Rankin

Alfalfa might ease the protein price pain


HE rising value of protein over the last 10 months should cause dairy producers and dairy nutritionists to reconsider the value of alfalfa hay and silage in dairy rations. Soybean meal (SBM) prices have jumped from about $300 per ton to $450 per ton during this period. This has resulted in the value of crude protein (CP) climbing from about $0.315 to $0.475 per pound. You could use other sources of protein to calculate this value, but all other sources of natural protein have followed the SBM prices. How does this impact the inclusion rate of alfalfa in dairy rations? It depends on the region and availability of alfalfa. In regions with adequate alfalfa supply, prices of alfalfa have remained steady during this time even though the value of the CP in the hay has risen due to the higher value of other protein sources. A ton of alfalfa hay containing 18.5% CP (as fed) would provide 370 pounds of CP. A 16-cent per pound boost in CP value results in a $59.20 per ton increase in the value of the CP contained in the hay. This is a significant change in the value of alfalfa hay nutrients. If you are not accounting for the changes in nutritive value of alfalfa hay, you may be missing an opportunity to include more

alfalfa in the ration. As a dairy producer, it might be worth a conversation with your alfalfa suppliers to establish the price and availability of the 2020 harvest as well as a discussion on the expected value of the 2021 harvest.

Further benefits In addition to potential savings on supplemental CP expense, adding more alfalfa forage to the dairy ration may also result in higher butterfat production. A 0.001 increase in butterfat concentration could result in a 10- to 13-cent improvement in daily milk income per cow. While this is not a guarantee, it is another factor to consider when evaluating the value of alfalfa hay in the dairy ration. Accounting for both changes in feed expense as well as improved income potential are important factors in making the decision to feed additional alfalfa. Another factor for dairy producers and alfalfa hay growers to consider is the impact of the value of protein on the future price of alfalfa hay. Every 1-point increase in CP concentration adds another 20 pounds of CP to each ton of hay harvested. Saving leaves and harvesting at early bud stage are two critical factors in the eventual CP content of the harvested hay. If CP is

The alfalfa harvest is already underway in many areas of the U.S. How are you going to improve the crude protein content of your alfalfa? Is this the year to take the first cutting at the bud stage? Are you going to use a hay preservative and try to bale at a slightly higher moisture content? Will you control the cutting area to match the limited number of baling hours when the hay will be at the right moisture to prevent leaf shatter? Will you rake or merge only with dew on the forage? If you are going to preserve the leaves in the harvested forage, consider how you harvest and accept that you might need to cut fewer acres each day to bale within the correct moisture window. If you can make some slight changes in your harvest procedure or timing to harvest more CP, it could result in a nice return on investment. Leaving a green trail of alfalfa leaves in the field during harvest or a green cloud of dust behind the baler or chopper will be costly this year. Finally, consider the value of feeding alfalfa with a higher leaf content on dairy herd performance. The leaves are the most digestible portion of the alfalfa plant. Improving the leaf density of harvested alfalfa forage will increase the total digestible nutrients as well as boost the ruminal digestibility of the neutral detergent fiber. This will elevate total tract neutral detergent fiber digestibility (TTNDFD), resulting in a higher milk production potential. As we continue to see very low margins in the dairy industry, consider how to better utilize alfalfa forage in rations and how to capture more value out of the 2021 alfalfa harvest. We have the tools, knowledge, and abilities; it’s just a matter of putting everything together in a timely manner. •

MIKE BROUK The author is a professor and extension dairy specialist with Kansas State University.

32 | Hay & Forage Grower | April/May 2021

F2 32 Apr-May 2021 Dairy Feedbunk.indd 1

4/16/21 8:35 AM


With a Swing-Max Tandem Power Hitch, you can double the baling production of your tractor. Take PTO power from your tractor, split it in two, and easily operate two balers at once. The Swing-Max boom, with its steerable second dolly, allows you to instantly adapt to windrow conditions while swinging inline for single file travel and corner control.









Contact Mountain View Seeds at 503.588.7333 for a free 2021 MVS Forage & Cover Crop Guide www.mtviewseeds.com April/May 2021 | hayandforage.com | 33


HIGH QUALITY CROP PACKAGING PRODUCTS NET WRAP • High UV stabilization • Maximized bale coverage • Heavier build offers added strength and longevity • Will work well in any properly adjusted baler • Red warning stripes towards end of each roll



FOR ALL SMALL BALE SIZES +1 316 730 5761 | www.arcusin.us

GOPHER GENERAL Patented system places slow-release fumigant tablets in the artificial tunnel, allowing time for gophers to find the tunnel and succumb to the fumigant.

“Best gopher control I’ve ever seen. Our cost per acre has gone down after the first season of use. Just added a second machine to cover all our ground.” M.B. Walla Walla, WA


You’ve tried the rest, now try the best!

Field proven, effective gopher control on tens of thousands of acres of alfalfa since 2010! • 20 acres/hr. • Less than $10/acre • Slow-release fumigant remains effective for days and undetected by the gophers

Watch our video at gophergeneral.com

• SAFE: Enclosed hopper limits operator exposure. • SEALS: Two pneumatic packer wheels seal tunnel to keep fumigant in the ground. • RUGGED MACHINE IN ALL CONDITIONS: Designed to protect against rocks and other obstacles; dry, muddy, or hard ground conditions.

Call 306-745-2412 for pricing & delivery or E-Mail:gophergeneral@gmail.com

34 | Hay & Forage Grower | April/May 2021

• High quality twine • High UV Stabilization • Consistency and Strength Our line of products also include: Bunker Covers / 2 in 1 Forager Silage Film Crusher Hay Conditioning Rolls Nurturite Forage Treatments

Innovative Forage Solutions www.innovativeforage.com 763-244-5972

Crop Specific Inoculant Haylage & Small Grains Dry Hay Hay--up to 26% moisture Corn Silage Moisture Corn Hi Hi--

Full line of applicators. Exceptional customer service. Organic certified. Custom Operators Wanted N4852 County Road C ~ Ellsworth WI 54011 Office: 715-273-3739 Cell: 612-812-7939 www.multisile.com deatonnutrition@dishup.us







June 14–20 2021

Forage & Grain Treatment

An effort to raise awareness to the importance and impact of forages.


Baler Applied Product

A Proven, Non-Corrosive Forage Treatment Alternative to Acid! Check out our Cutter Applied Products: Desicut / Hay PT



Treated - First Response

Innovative Forage Solutions

and our Silage Products: Silage Si / Silage PT / Ensile

763-244-5972 email: eddietoms@innovativeforage.com



Made In USA

(800) 552-3295


April/May 2021 | hayandforage.com | 35



Made in the USA YEARS of unmatched performance, proven longevity and customer service.

Call today to learn more!

36 | Hay & Forage Grower | April/May 2021



Save time. Save money. Save grease.

WWW.LOCKNLUBE.COM 603-795-2298

The new generation of TL Series inline bale wrappers from Tube-Line are built to provide producers and custom operators with high efficiency and proven reliability. To ensure that everyone can reap the benefits of the high moisture hay, Tube-Line BaleWrappers are available in multiple configurations to suit your needs and your budget. For more information please visit us online or contact your nearest dealer.

Bainbridge, OH

Untitled-1 1

Check out the Hay & Forage Grower website for up-to-date field news, latest industry information, original features, and industry insight at


www.hayandforage.com 1:25:25 PM

$2.50 per word per issue.10 word minimum.

920-563-5551 ext. 125 pkressin@hayandforage.com

SEASONAL LABOR LEGAL • RELIABLE • HARDWORKING — When you are ready to get SERIOUS about getting SERIOUS workers. Mexico & South Africa (English speaking — experienced operators). Todd Miller (210) 695-1648 • www. /26 headhonchosllc.com. HEHONC

FARM EQUIPMENT BALEWAGONS: New Holland self-propelled & pull-type models/parts/tires/manuals. Can finance/deliver. 208-880-2889, /15 www.balewagon.com JAWIBA

April/May 2021 | hayandforage.com | 37

FORAGE IQ Virginia Grazing School May 11 and 12, Glade Spring, Va. Details: vaforages.org/event Kentucky Fencing Schools May 11 — Hopkinsville May 13 — Owensboro Details: forages.ca.uky.edu Four-State Dairy Nutrition Conf. June 9 to 12, Dubuque, Iowa Details: fourstatedairy.org Cattle Industry Convention NCBA Trade Show August 10 to 12, Nashville, Tenn. Details: convention.ncba.org World Dairy Expo World Forage Analysis Superbowl Sept. 28 to Oct. 2, Madison, Wis. Corn silage entries due July 15 Hay crop entries due August 26 Details: bit.ly/HFG-WFAS

Keith Bolsen


4 Safe practices 4 Educational Resources



Good reasons for higher hay prices Hay prices remain stronger than one year ago, and there are indications that they will stay that way. Commodity prices remain high, making protein feed supplements much more expensive. Also, many areas of the West remain extremely dry and irrigation water allotments are being cut, which will cut into

production. At the same time, China is helping to bolster U.S. exports of high-quality alfalfa. Hay stock estimates from USDA will be released in May. The prices below are primarily from USDA hay market reports as of midApril. Prices are FOB barn/stack unless otherwise noted. •

For weekly updated hay prices, go to “USDA Hay Prices” at hayandforage.com Supreme-quality alfalfa California (northern SJV) California (Sacramento Valley)-ssb California (southeast) Idaho (eastern) Iowa Kansas (northeast) Kansas (south central)

Price $/ton Oregon (eastern) 270-300 Pennsylvania (southeast) 260 South Dakota 225 South Dakota (Corsica)-lrb 170 Texas (Panhandle) 325 (d) Washington 225-300 Wisconsin (Lancaster)-lrb 200-220 Wyoming (eastern)

Minnesota (Sauk Centre) Missouri Montana Oregon (Klamath Basin)-ssb Oregon (Lake County) Pennsylvania (southeast) South Dakota Texas (Panhandle) Texas (west) Washington Premium-quality alfalfa California (south)-ssb California (southeast) Colorado (southeast) Idaho (southeast) Iowa Iowa (Rock Valley)-ssb Kansas (northeast) Kansas (south central) Minnesota (Sauk Centre) Minnesota (Pipestone)-ssb Missouri Montana-ssb Oklahoma (central) Oregon (Crook-Wasco)-ssb Pennsylvania (southeast) South Dakota Texas (Panhandle) Washington-ssb Wisconsin (Lancaster) Wyoming (western)-ssb Good-quality alfalfa California (southeast)-ssb Colorado (northeast) Idaho (southeast) Iowa (Rock Valley) Iowa (Rock Valley)-lrb Kansas (south central)-lrb Kansas (southeast) Minnesota (Sauk Centre)-lrb Minnesota (Pipestone) Missouri Montana Nebraska (Platte Valley)-lrb Nebraska (western) Oklahoma (central)

230-250 200-250 200 200 220 430 220 280-300 265-280 240 Price $/ton 259 205-220 220 155-160 305 225 170 180-215 170-210 175 160-200 225 200 250 250-310 185-225 250-260 230 270-285 210-225 Price $/ton 175 180 155-160 160-165 133-150 150 160-165 125-160 135-145 120-160 155 110-115 190 170

(d) (d)




Fair-quality alfalfa Idaho (south central) Iowa (Rock Valley)-lrb Kansas (north central)-lrb Kansas (northeast) Minnesota (Sauk Centre) Minnesota (Pipestone)-lrb Missouri Montana South Dakota (Corsica)-lrb Washington Wisconsin (Lancaster) Bermudagrass hay Alabama-Good lrb Alabama-Premium ssb California (southeast)-Premium ssb Oklahoma (north central)-Prem/Sup lrb Texas (central)-Premium ssb Texas (south)-Fair/Good lrb Bromegrass hay Iowa-Good lrb Kansas (southeast)-Premium ssb Kansas (south central)-Good lrb Orchardgrass hay Oregon (Crook-Wasco)-Premium ssb Oregon (Klamath Basin)-Good Pennsylvania (southeast)-Premium Pennsylvania (southeast)-Good Washington-Premium ssb Timothy hay Oregon (eastern)-Premium ssb Pennsylvania (southeast)-Premium Pennsylvania (southeast)-Good Washington-Good ssb Wyoming (western)-Premium ssb Oat hay California (intermountain)-Good ssb Kansas (south central)-Good Straw Iowa Iowa (Rock Valley)-lrb Kansas (northeast) Minnesota (Sauk Centre) Pennsylvania (southeast)-ssb South Dakota (Corsica)-lrb Washington

140 195-250 180-185 140-152 255-265 (d) 115-155 125-160 190 Price $/ton 170 113-128 100-120 120-160 100-160 115-120 100-125 140 95-100 115-125 75-100 Price $/ton 70-90 180-300 190-200 90 280-330 120-130 Price $/ton 100 120 90 Price $/ton 240-275 260 280-360 200-290 230 Price $/ton 180 310-355 185-280 240 300 Price $/ton 180 70-130 Price $/ton 170 65-73 100 60-85 140-190 43 65





Abbreviations: d=delivered, lrb=large round bales, ssb=small square bales, o=organic

38 | Hay & Forage Grower | April/May 2021

F2 38 Apr-May 2021 Hay Market.indd 1

4/15/21 10:52 AM

MAXIMUM PRODUCTIVITY AND PERFORMANCE Don’t go through this year’s hay season without the right tools.




Purchase a select new mower, mower conditioner or rotary rake, then cut the price further with savings from KUHN. Visit your local dealer or our website for details, to receive your coupon or to learn about other current offers. Mow 'N Save and Rake in the Cash coupons end June 16, 2021. INVEST IN QUALITY www.kuhn.com



PROTEIN & YOUR ROI GET THE MOST OUT OF YOUR FIELDS WITH ALFALFA. Alfalfa is key to healthy soils and provides more protein per acre than other cropping choices. It is the ultimate regenerative crop, increasing biodiversity and enhancing ecosystems. Quality alfalfa rations enhance your dairy operation’s overall ROI while strengthening your environmental footprint. JOIN THE REGENERATION NATION MOVEMENT TODAY. LEARN MORE ABOUT THE BENEFITS OF ALFALFA BY VISITING REGENERATION-NATION.ORG OR TALKING TO YOUR LOCAL SEED REPRESENTATIVE. ©2021, All rights reserved.

Parting thoughts Finally, keep these practical mowing and conditioning considerations in mind: • The purchase price of a triple mower will be about 25% less without conditioners. • Conditioners add to repair and maintenance costs and will require more fuel per acre when mowing. • A longer harvest window at the desired moisture may result from not conditioning but at the risk of longer wilting duration to reach that moisture. • Drying to baleage moisture (45% to 55%) will be much more difficult without conditioning. Getting forage to dry to hay moisture will be very difficult without conditioning.

Figure 1. Second cutting alfalfa harvested with two identical mowers except that one had a roll conditioner and the other had no conditioner 80% 75% Moisture

producer of changing conditions. As a result, these systems might suggest an intervention such as tedding, raking, or use of a preservative. Ultimately, the goal is to enable the producer to evaluate the trade-offs between missing the optimal crop maturity and weather risk, thus improving the margins in hay production.

70% 65%

Uncond. - Windrow

60% 55%

Uncond. - Swath Cond. - Windrow


Cond. - Swath

45% 9:30am 10:30am 11:30am 12:30pm 1:30pm 2:30pm 3:30pm 4:30pm 5:30pm Elapsed time • Chopping cover crops such as ryelage is becoming more common. Conditioning helps moisture move from these thick-stemmed, slow-drying crops. • When there is no conditioner, the stems tend to lay aligned with the direction of travel. This

can lead to losses when merging because the pick-up teeth easily rake through the aligned stems. Cutting at a slight angle of 2 to 3 degrees can alleviate this problem, but this is not always an option in fields that are on the contour or irregularly shaped. •


FORAGE SHIELD Protect your forage quality.

BULLETPROOF® Forage Preservatives enhances fermentation through the addition of sulfur-containing antioxidants, enzymes and sugar sources. This unique combination of ingredients allows for a more rapid and efficient fermentation by the lactic acid producing bacteria that are naturally present on the forage.

Contact our Lancaster office to find a dealer near you: 717-291-1821 BulletProofYourForage.com April/May 2021 | hayandforage.com | 17

F4 16-17B Apr-May 2021 Hay Drying.indd 3

4/15/21 10:47 AM


Sign-up is fast and easy at hayandforage.com • • • • •

Headline news and field reports Market insight and crop updates Original features Event coverage Direct to your inbox every Tuesday morning

Issuu converts static files into: digital portfolios, online yearbooks, online catalogs, digital photo albums and more. Sign up and create your flipbook.