Cutting Interval

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ClinchValley

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I see some folks around here have just taken a 2nd cut on mixed grass/legume fields. Earliest 1st cut i saw was about May 20th roughly. Which would be about a 45 day growth period.

My papaw would wait until august, at the earliest, to take 2nd cut. I see many around here do the same. So far, this is how i have done. But am wondering if there is a better practice.

We cut on June 4th, had all in the barn by the 10th.

Is there a benefit to cutting every 45 days or so? Higher quality hay i'm sure. Just trying to get the logic behind it. I am gonna take a guess and say it will allow warm season grasses to get better production, seeing as how the cools are about to slow down.

These fields are mostly fescue, OG, timothy and red clover. Warm season stuff like Johnson Grass, Dallisgrass, crabgrass, and red top. Nothing special.
 

ez14.

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Around here most people try to cut alfalfa every 28 days! (Can make for some pitiful quantities but high quality! )
 
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ClinchValley

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The quantity part of the equation is my main concern. But noticed last year how the OG burned up to nothing as the dog days progressed. Was unrecognizable by the time we cut in August. Johnson grass useless by then too.
 

JMJ Farms

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Not real educated on grass mixed w/ legumes. With Bermuda grass the best protein quality is at 28 days. Best balance between quality and quantity is 35 days. After 35 days it’s going downhill. Anything over 42 days and it’s losing protein really really fast. I would think w/ legumes that same timeline would apply. 28 days would be some high quality hay for sure.
 

True Grit Farms

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JMJ Farms":2lqz3kgn said:
Not real educated on grass mixed w/ legumes. With Bermuda grass the best protein quality is at 28 days. Best balance between quality and quantity is 35 days. After 35 days it’s going downhill. Anything over 42 days and it’s losing protein really really fast. I would think w/ legumes that same timeline would apply. 28 days would be some high quality hay for sure.
When you start out high in TDN and protein you can afford to loose a little. My hay at it's best is marginal compared to northern grown hay.
 

JMJ Farms

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True Grit Farms":8n9uitsp said:
JMJ Farms":8n9uitsp said:
Not real educated on grass mixed w/ legumes. With Bermuda grass the best protein quality is at 28 days. Best balance between quality and quantity is 35 days. After 35 days it’s going downhill. Anything over 42 days and it’s losing protein really really fast. I would think w/ legumes that same timeline would apply. 28 days would be some high quality hay for sure.
When you start out high in TDN and protein you can afford to loose a little. My hay at it's best is marginal compared to northern grown hay.

The more experience and education I gain in the cattle business I realize more and more that there is a reason there are more cows in the northern and midwestern parts of the US. We are in a different environment here for sure and it’s not as cattle friendly in many levels.
 

herofan

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ClinchValley":1rcx0mft said:
My papaw would wait until august, at the earliest, to take 2nd cut. I see many around here do the same. So far, this is how i have done. But am wondering if there is a better practice.

We cut on June 4th, had all in the barn by the 10th.

I’m similar. We cut our field of fescue/orchard grass/clover on June 6. I’m lucky that I get all I need in first cutting, so I let my friend mow, rake, and bale it for it on second cutting, and he usually comes in August or September.

I fertilize in the spring, but I don’t fertilize after cutting. First cutting was great quality and thick, but there is not a lot of growth for a second cutting yet. So little that I’d feel silly mowing it now, but it’s usually good again by August or September.
 

Caustic Burno

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JMJ Farms":3nbdbiqf said:
Not real educated on grass mixed w/ legumes. With Bermuda grass the best protein quality is at 28 days. Best balance between quality and quantity is 35 days. After 35 days it’s going downhill. Anything over 42 days and it’s losing protein really really fast. I would think w/ legumes that same timeline would apply. 28 days would be some high quality hay for sure.

Weather permitting I tried to lay the fields down every 30 days.
 

herofan

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When one gets into the topic of loosing nutrients after 30 or 40 days, what are some obvious negatives that one will notice in cattle if they eat hay that stands 2 or 3 months after the first cutting?

I wouldn’t do this, nor would I promote it, but I knew a guy when I was young who had a rather large operation, and he mowed his hay once a year, and that was in October. I never heard of any issues he had, and his cattle looked normal. I have a neighbor who said he’s probably not going to mow any hay this year until fall.
 

Jogeephus

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herofan":29v6x4mm said:
When one gets into the topic of loosing nutrients after 30 or 40 days, what are some obvious negatives that one will notice in cattle if they eat hay that stands 2 or 3 months after the first cutting?

I wouldn’t do this, nor would I promote it, but I knew a guy when I was young who had a rather large operation, and he mowed his hay once a year, and that was in October. I never heard of any issues he had, and his cattle looked normal. I have a neighbor who said he’s probably not going to mow any hay this year until fall.

There are no negatives as long as you know what you got. For instance, here you have a choice to either grow volume or quality. Either way is fine but if you grow quantity you need to supplement the hay or your cattle will lose condition and your calving rate and ADG of the calves will suffer. If your recognize this and supplement then there is no downside - assuming you can get a cheap source of feed to supplement.
 
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ClinchValley

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herofan":g9szthjo said:
I’m similar. We cut our field of fescue/orchard grass/clover on June 6. I’m lucky that I get all I need in first cutting, so I let my friend mow, rake, and bale it for it on second cutting, and he usually comes in August or September.

I fertilize in the spring, but I don’t fertilize after cutting. First cutting was great quality and thick, but there is not a lot of growth for a second cutting yet. So little that I’d feel silly mowing it now, but it’s usually good again by August or September.

We have had decent rain since first cut. Been getting 1/2 to a inch just about every ten da, this far. Knock on wood. Second cut looks like its already heavier than it was when we cut in august last year. Again, knock on wood.
 
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ClinchValley

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This is the first year we've not sprayed in the spring, therefore lots of red clover. I have no experience dealing with it.

Should it make me cut earlier than we have been? Don't know if it gets too mature pretty quick or not.
 

TexasBred

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Most hay around here is coastal bermuda. Cutting at 28-30 days gives the highest quality hay. Some will wait longer trying to make MORE low quality hay.
 

Texasmark

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ClinchValley":1pwoky0z said:
I see some folks around here have just taken a 2nd cut on mixed grass/legume fields. Earliest 1st cut i saw was about May 20th roughly. Which would be about a 45 day growth period.

My papaw would wait until august, at the earliest, to take 2nd cut. I see many around here do the same. So far, this is how i have done. But am wondering if there is a better practice.

We cut on June 4th, had all in the barn by the 10th.

Is there a benefit to cutting every 45 days or so? Higher quality hay i'm sure. Just trying to get the logic behind it. I am gonna take a guess and say it will allow warm season grasses to get better production, seeing as how the cools are about to slow down.

These fields are mostly fescue, OG, timothy and red clover. Warm season stuff like Johnson Grass, Dallisgrass, crabgrass, and red top. Nothing special.

Ag schools publish the answer to your question. Coastal Bermuda for one is listed at 30 day intervals to get max bang out of the plant. After that it's just down hill. For me I don't have much in 30 days, more like 60. So I shave off a few points of protein and TDN and all the good stuff for some bulk to fill up ruminant bellies.....but I supplement for other reasons so it's no big deal.

The kicker is plant stage. While growing vigorously (in the growth mode) it's tender, succulent, leafy, and full of nutrition. Once the boot forms (seed pod envelope) the plant moves into the mature mode. It gets stemmy, fiberous, and the nutrition goes into the seeds. If the seeds get dislodged during baling (the older the easier for that to happen) you are left with low nutrition fiber, usually consumed as a last resort by animals, and a poor maintenance diet if anything. (Opinion)

On timing second cutting, around here it is the desired cut primarily due to noxious weeds that seem to always show their heads, removed with the first cutting of the year. Mine is baled. Only reason to wait till fall is that you have so much hay you can't get to it all in time. Besides, if the rain gods smile on you, a third cutting will be sitting out there by then and will make good hay.
 

TexasBred

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herofan":b6m2nfb5 said:
When one gets into the topic of loosing nutrients after 30 or 40 days, what are some obvious negatives that one will notice in cattle if they eat hay that stands 2 or 3 months after the first cutting?

I wouldn’t do this, nor would I promote it, but I knew a guy when I was young who had a rather large operation, and he mowed his hay once a year, and that was in October. I never heard of any issues he had, and his cattle looked normal. I have a neighbor who said he’s probably not going to mow any hay this year until fall.
Weight loss in the cow, failure to breed back in a timely manner, more susceptible to illness, and crappy looking calves. There is no benefit to feeding low quality hay "by choice". Seems like when you supplement you still don't get the good results that you see when the grazing and the hay is higher quality. BTW that October cut hay may not be bad if he fertilizes in September. ;-)
 

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ClinchValley":3a7b4h8e said:
This is the first year we've not sprayed in the spring, therefore lots of red clover. I have no experience dealing with it.

Should it make me cut earlier than we have been? Don't know if it gets too mature pretty quick or not.

Cut it when the pink flowers are coming out a good amount.

By october here there is a lot of green in the bottom again, but the top of the hay is junk.
 

herofan

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For those of you who have several cuttings per season, do you fertilize between cuttings, or at least more than once?

Speaking of nutrition loss, does anyone who keeps round bales outside have a few left over at the end of winter? Do you just keep and feed next season, or do consider hay that sits out that long to be garbage?
 

M-5

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I fertilize in spring about 4 to 5 weeks before anticipated cutting then 50# of N for every ton of hay removed. Ideally it's cut every 4 weeks . I apply the soil test recommend P and K in spring. Don't usually have much outside hay left. Barn hay is first in first out so it's rotated .
 

JMJ Farms

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M-5":2hpac8ft said:
I fertilize in spring about 4 to 5 weeks before anticipated cutting then 50# of N for every ton of hay removed. Ideally it's cut every 4 weeks . I apply the soil test recommend P and K in spring. Don't usually have much outside hay left. Barn hay is first in first out so it's rotated .

I do the same with the exception of I split my K application. 1/2 before 1st cutting and 1/2 on second. I put all the P out before the 1st cutting. I usually add a little sulfur as well. Still working toward getting me a hay barn. I’d like to stock up on these wet years to help out when things get back to normal.
 

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