Wet weather conditions during hay season will likely result in lower forage quality. That is why it is important to test hay to determine forage quality according to Sarah Kenyon, agronomy specialist with University of Missouri Extension.
"Hay should be tested before winter feeding to ensure that the nutrient requirements of the livestock are being met," said Kenyon.
Studies have shown rainfall itself has little impact on hay quality. When hay gets wet, there is some nutrient leaching but the impact depends on the timing and intensity of the rainfall.
If rain occurs soon after the hay is cut, very little loss is experienced.
If rain occurs when the hay is, dry and brittle more nutrient leaching is possible. Hard, intense rains will result in more leaf loss than slow, steady rains.
"The number one factor that impacts forage quality is the stage of maturity during harvest. Frequent rainfall can delay cutting, resulting in increased forage maturity, ultimately resulting in reduced forage quality," said Kenyon.
High-quality grass hay should be harvested during the boot stage before seed development.
Wet conditions this year during hay harvest has delayed hay production for many producers, resulting in more mature forage.
"It is important that you have hay tested to determine what production stage the forage can be fed to or to determine if additional supplementation is needed to meet the animals nutrient requirements," said Kenyon. "The goal in growing forages is to produce feed that will meet the nutritional requirements of the animals."
Source: University of Missouri Extension