# How Much Hay Do You Really Need This Winter?

November 1, 2018 01:42 PM

Drought, hurricanes and flooding—it’s been a challenging year for hay production. Whether you are purchasing hay this year, or managed to get your own hay baled, every forage dollar needs to be spent wisely.

Don’t get caught by higher hay prices later—be as accurate in your hay needs now while you still have time to adjust your feeding plans.

“The two pieces of information you need are an approximate weight of your cows, because the size of the cow is going to dictate how much she needs, and her stage of production,” says Amy Radunz, University of Wisconsin associate professor. “Right now, most cows are going to be in gestation.”

For example, if you have a 1,600-lb. dry cow and medium quality forage, “you can estimate they will eat about 2% of their body weight per day and 2.5% later as a lactating cow,” Radunz says. “That’s going to get you pretty close to the cow’s average daily intake needs.”

Anything less than that, and cows are likely to lose body condition ahead of calving. (Download the Drovers body condition score card  (BCS) you can keep in the feed truck to monitor hard keeping cows.) As cows get further along in gestation, their nutrient needs increase.

The goal is to have cows in BCS of 5 to 6 at calving, and maintain her through the months of lactation until breeding, Radunz adds. “If producers wait to address BCS until fall and early winter, it will cost them more in the quantity and quality of forage.”

To estimate hay intake, use your hay analysis to determine protein and total digestible nutrients.&nbsp;

### Step 1. Convert dry matter intake needed per day to as-fed intake.

If the intake of a 1,200-lb. cow is 24 lb. per day and dry matter of forage is 70%, then as-fed intake is 34 lb. per day.

1,200-lb. cow x 2% = 24 lb. DMI

24 lb. DMI / .70 % dry matter = 34 lb. as-fed intake per day

### Step 2. Estimate how much forage will be needed for the herd based on the number of cows and days feeding forage.

If a 50-cow herd is expected to winter feed for 150 days, this would equal 127.5 tons of hay needed.

34 lb. as-fed intake x 50 cows x 150 days / 2,000 lb. per ton = 127.5 tons

### Step 3. Estimate hay losses from storage and feeding method.

“Will your method of feeding create additional waste and storage losses that you need to account for? If you are feeding on the ground, you are going to lose more than if you are feeding in a hay feeder,” Radunz says. Both of those factors will contribute to the amount you need to feed or purchase.

A general assumption of 20% hay loss would raise the total amount of hay needed 153 tons of hay.

127.50 tons hay needed * 1.2 = 153 tons

Weather, temperature and feeding environment will also play a role in the amount of hay is needed each year. Small changes to facility design, or feeding method might help conserve hay quality.

Back to news

No comments have been posted to this News Article

## Ranch Group Walks Back Opposition to Military Expansion Plan

By
•  John Wayne's California Ranch Listed for \$8 Million; Could Grow 'Weed' 12/14/2018 06:27 AM
•  Drovers TV: McDonald's Updates Beef Antibiotic Policy for 2020 Goals 12/14/2018 02:10 AM
•  Meat Trade Buffers Record U.S. Meat Production 12/13/2018 08:56 AM
•  Oklahoma Residents Fight 'Poultry House Proliferation' 12/13/2018 08:36 AM
•  Cattle Market Could Continue Seeing Less Volatility at Start of 2019 12/13/2018 08:39 AM
•  333 People Infected by Salmonella from JBS Recalled Beef 12/13/2018 08:08 AM
•  Two Arrested for Stealing Kansas Cattle and Attempting to Sell in OKC 12/13/2018 03:51 AM
•  In The Cattle Markets: BBQ Town Hall 12/13/2018 01:06 AM

## Corn College TV Education Series

Get nearly 8 hours of educational video with Farm Journal's top agronomists. Produced in the field and neatly organized by topic, from spring prep to post-harvest. Order now!

## Markets

Market Data provided by QTInfo.com
 Cash Bids
 LDP Quotes
 ©2018 Farm Journal, Inc. All Rights 8725 Rosehill Road, Suite 200, Lenexa KS 66215
Close