Nutrients in hay - why is it so Important ?!
While milk cows should have alfalfa is it true that beef cattle should stick with grass hay? Is Alfalfa killing your horse even though they love it? I’ll try to answer some of those nagging questions in my Vlog that teams up with this blog but in the mean time I tried to compile some of the thoughts I had going into making the video with Suzanne, from WT Farm Girl .
I often hear people say they want to give their animals “the best” feed, and they assume alfalfa is best because it has more protein and calcium. But alfalfa hay is not the best for all animals.
The nutritional profiles vary greatly between the legumes and the grass hays. Alfalfa has about 16 to 20 percent protein, while grass hays are only 8 to 10 percent protein. Alfalfa has two to three times as much calcium as grass hays.
While milk cows should have alfalfa is it true that beef cattle should stick with grass hay? Is Alfalfa killing your horse even though they love it? I’ll try to answer some of those nagging questions in my Vlog that teams up with this blog.
Hay nutrition can also vary from year to year depending upon weather and crop management.
Hay, whether cut earlier or later in the season, is dependent on maturity at harvest and species to determine its overall nutritional value. As hay matures in the field, it will decrease in both energy and protein, regardless if it is first, second or third cutting. the exception to this and keeps its quality for a longer period compared to grass or alfalfa when mature. Legumes in general will be higher in energy and protein that grasses.
Legume plants are more drought resistant than cool season grasses, and it may be that you will get more quality nutrition with a mixed hay (grass and alfalfa) or even alfalfa hay this year.
You can also feed hay that is over a year old as long as it is clean and dry. All hay loses vitamin stores relatively quickly (in about three to six months of storage). We always assume that we need to supplement essential vitamins and some minerals based on where hay is grown and the species type. Supplementing hay with a hay balancer or formulated grain that is specific for your horse’s dietary requirements can ensure your horse is getting a balanced diet. Remember to body condition score your horse often to ensure they are neither to fat nor thin.
Okay so what about rained on hay? .... that is a hard one... there’s different aspects of “rained on”. And while our practice is that we want it mowed raked and bales in 3 days generally, sometimes that doesn’t always happen. Our rule of thumb is that if hay is “rained on” how much is that rain actually effecting the Hay Quality. Is it just a sprinkle? I’ve baked hay when it a misting & it was some of the best hay our clients received. However if it’s been rained and sat on - then raked and baled Jasons not selling it. We will feed it for our own livestock needs.
We pride ourselves on the top quality of Hay we provide year after year. Our relationships with our clients means a great deal. We have repeat buyers from each season - filling their barns some days just as fast as I can plop them out of the Massey.
Some other good websites that I found helpful and knowledgeable -
I found this arrival by VitaFerm regarding the Value of Raines on hay. https://vitaferm.com/2015/08/11/determining-the-value-of-rained-on-hay/
I really liked the AG Market Hay Guidelines information, https://agmarketnews.mo.gov/content/national-hay-test-guidelines regarding Hay Quality Designation’s physical descriptions.