Forage feeding losses

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Well-known member
Dec 28, 2003
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MO Ozarks
Grinding or Processing

There are some misconceptions that grinding forages will increase forages quality. This is not true. In some grinding situations, quality may decrease, especially if the hay is ground on a windy day. Grinding decrease particle size and when particle size is decreased, the amount of time that the ground forage needs to stay in the rumen to be digested decreases. A decrease in rumen retention time means that forage intake will increase. This means that a cow can consume more of the forage. This concept becomes important when feeding cows a low quality forage and intake is restricted because it will not pass through the rumen at a very rapid rate because it takes so long to digest. Grinding or processing hay in a bale processor is a method to increase consumption of low to medium quality forages. Grinding different forages together will allow to combine forages of differing quality for best use in a cow feeding diet. It also allows a way to manage problem forages such as forages that contain nitrate levels that are at the potentially toxic level.

Controlling forage feeding losses is important. It must also be recognized that as forage feeding losses move closer to zero, money will be invested on extra equipment or material such as bunks, feeding racks, inverted tires, etc. If the forage is ground, a feed wagon and/or loader on the tractor is needed. Costs need to be balanced with savings.

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Thanks dun. Speaking of hay, I think that most of us in the business know not to touch it any more than is necessary. The more you "work" it, the lower the quality will be.
I never could justify buying a bale processer. Just roll the bales out in a new spot everday and those old cows clean it up right to the ground. The trick is to only feed enough that they will clean it up and provide enough straw so they can fill up if they don't get enough. Also rolled out on the ground.
The last couple of days have been pretty cold so am feeding 26.5 lb. of fairly decent hay and about 20 lbs. of straw. Cut the straw back to 16 lb. yesterday as they weren't working it over very much.
In the spring I might run the pasture harrows over areas that have a build up of straw or maybe not...depends how lazy I am or if I have other things to do. In the end it doesn't seem to matter much as the grass grows through the straw and is lush by fall.