Oats or Barley for nurse crop?

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Mar 13, 2005
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NW Wisconsin
Seeding a new pasture/hay field this spring. Due to needed feed, I will be cutting and baling the nurse crop rather than letting it mature.

I am guessing I will need to wrap these bales due to high moisture.

I live in NW Wisconsin.

Is barley or oats, cut permature, and baled the better choice for feed?
We've used both, and had good results. I'm thinking it's a matter of personal preferance, and what you're aiming to achieve - I believe that barley might have a little higher protein than oats, but I'm not sure.
When we use a nurse crop, we use barley or oats and more often we cut for greenfeed. That is what non mature cereal grain baled is called. Cows love it. This helps the pasture or the forage fields to get a good foundation. If you are going to use barley this way get an awnless barley. It will be better for the mouth and throat area. Less poking and infections.
Around here it would be called balage, or just wrapped bales. In my mind balage is what you would have if they fermented. Here I am looking to wrap them to avoid rot/mold/etc.

If one is not that much superior to the other, I will decide based on yield and cost.

Thanks to you both.
We dry baled our oat hay one year that was a nurse crop. Cut it a little late, past boot stage, but it tested out ~11% protein. Cows did fine on it, used it during the winter after weaning. One thing we did notice is the fiber was so high the patties wouldn't break up, more like mulch. Had to maually break them up. If you samll sqaure baled some good and dry you might find a good market for it with horses - the ones that keep too easy do better on that stuff.
I believe oats will normally out yield barley as far as tons per acre. On a normal year it's almost impossible to get dried when cut before mature. Balage would work well. Oats cut and baled during the dough stage will dry at about the rate of grass hay.

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