Quality of hay cut late

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herofan

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I feel I already know the answer to this, and I'm sure it's been discussed a million times, but I just want affirmation once more on hay quality.

I have some friends who have fescue and orchard grass hay which, is common here in Ky; they cut it Saturday and baled it today. My friend said he was glad he waited, because he said we've had great weather this spring with just the right amount of rain. He said he feels the hay is much better than it would have been had he cut it in May.

The grass was thick, but of course, already turning brown. My opinion is that his cows won't die this winter, but there is no way I could believe it's better than it was in May.

I know a few people who cut their hay once a year in September or October. I don't see how that is even worth putting out.

Isn't it true that once fescue and Orchard grass
get seed heads, it's already going in a negative direction as far as nutrients and quality?
 

Banjo

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I think maybe the saving grace for hay here in Ky is that there is usually lots of green undergrowth like clover that would help with the nutrient content. Doing a hay sample is probably the only way to know for sure.

I'm not so sure that waiting until Sept. or Oct. is such a bad idea. There again, you are going to have lots of new growth like fescue which at this point will be mostly green blades. I actually think that if you clipped it once or twice and then baled it in Sept. or Oct. you would have mostly blades which would make real good hay IMO. But maybe not so much quantity.
 

ddd75

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yea the quality is junk.. they are baling seeds and stems which don't even account for much hay.

I usually am baling my 2nd cutting by the time most are getting their 1st. quality doesn't even compare just LOOKING at it.. let alone a sample. not to mention all the thistle seeds you are letting go.

you get more hay, better pastures, better quality hay.

people that cut once or twice usually don't even put any fertilizer down either.
 

BFE

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Most people around here wait until the fescue is a little too overly mature, which means June haymaking, probably because most are still planting. It would be better quality if baled middle/end of May, but as my brother says, he's never lost a hay crop in June, so lower quality trumps no hay. The weather's always pretty chancey in May it seems.

On drought years there's a lot of late hay made on CRP fields around here. As Banjo said, lots of new growth down low, even though the tall stems are brown and don't look too good if not previously clipped. My friend and hay man has fed lots of late hay down through the years, he says it's just as good as earlier, but that is just opinion, not proven.
 

chevytaHOE5674

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I haven't even started cutting anything yet. You loose some quality on the brown stuff up top, but you also get a lot of undergrowth which is basically your 2nd crop underneath. I've tested some in years past and it isn't as bad as you think. Mother nature hasn't given us 2 nice days since the middle of May, and May UP here is cold and nothing is growing yet, so you do what you can do.
 

Rafter S

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I don't know anything about conditions in Kentucky, but I can't imagine a good reason to get one cutting and waiting until fall. Most years that's about when I'm getting my third. If I just didn't need that much hay, I'd prefer getting my one cutting early.
 
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herofan

herofan

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So, it seems the bottom line is that it's better quality in May, but not a tragedy if it's cut in June. Does that sound about right?

Let's assume it's at 100 percent top quality at mid May. What percent would you say it's at in Mid to late June?
 

M.Magis

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Depends on climate, I'm sure. Here in SE Ohio, I'd guess at least 80% of first cuttings are done in June, maybe more. It's at least mid-late June before seed heads even start to turn brown. Most of the hay I see done in May is haylage, the weather rarely cooperates for dry hay. Most of the fields I see were still thin in May also because of the cool spring with nights in the 40s well into June. I had to wear a hooded sweatshirt to mow hay first week of June.
 

True Grit Farms

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herofan":2xq1lmow said:
So, it seems the bottom line is that it's better quality in May, but not a tragedy if it's cut in June. Does that sound about right?

Let's assume it's at 100 percent top quality at mid May. What percent would you say it's at in Mid to late June?

As a rule cutting hay on 6 week interval is the best balance between tonnage, protein and TDN. And after 6 weeks hay looses 1% protein and TDN per week on adverage. 12 week old hay here in Georgia isn't much better than straw.
 

talltimber

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ddd75":hp0p2pjy said:
yea the quality is junk.. they are baling seeds and stems which don't even account for much hay.

I usually am baling my 2nd cutting by the time most are getting their 1st. quality doesn't even compare just LOOKING at it.. let alone a sample. not to mention all the thistle seeds you are letting go.

you get more hay, better pastures, better quality hay.

people that cut once or twice usually don't even put any fertilizer down either.

Gonna need you to break that one down for me a little further, triple d

herofan, sometimes you have to make do. I would rather have had my hay made in May or at least in early June. Things happen, didn't get it done.

Another option, if a guy should think the hay will be junk, then don't bale it. Feed'em snowballs instead.
 

TexasBred

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herofan":qg4jdp7o said:
I feel I already know the answer to this, and I'm sure it's been discussed a million times, but I just want affirmation once more on hay quality.

I have some friends who have fescue and orchard grass hay which, is common here in Ky; they cut it Saturday and baled it today. My friend said he was glad he waited, because he said we've had great weather this spring with just the right amount of rain. He said he feels the hay is much better than it would have been had he cut it in May.

The grass was thick, but of course, already turning brown. My opinion is that his cows won't die this winter, but there is no way I could believe it's better than it was in May.

I know a few people who cut their hay once a year in September or October. I don't see how that is even worth putting out.

Isn't it true that once fescue and Orchard grass
get seed heads, it's already going in a negative direction as far as nutrients and quality?

Don't know if it's just being hard headed or stupid when you know the timing for your hay to be at it's prime then wait another month or two to cut it. But as some have said on here "It will make a turd".
 

ddd75

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talltimber":g7n4i53r said:
ddd75":g7n4i53r said:
yea the quality is junk.. they are baling seeds and stems which don't even account for much hay.

I usually am baling my 2nd cutting by the time most are getting their 1st. quality doesn't even compare just LOOKING at it.. let alone a sample. not to mention all the thistle seeds you are letting go.

you get more hay, better pastures, better quality hay.

people that cut once or twice usually don't even put any fertilizer down either.

Gonna need you to break that one down for me a little further, triple d

herofan, sometimes you have to make do. I would rather have had my hay made in May or at least in early June. Things happen, didn't get it done.

Another option, if a guy should think the hay will be junk, then don't bale it. Feed'em snowballs instead.
what i'm saying is.. most people who don't care to make quality hay.. only cutting it twice a year.. usually don't fertilizer or put down inputs. that's around here where you can easily get 4 cuttings.
 

talltimber

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My Dad and Grandpa made hay once a year as do most in my area, fertilized in the spring or sometimes fall and nitrogen in the spring, made all the hay they needed for the year in one cutting. Grazed it later in the summer or stockpiled for the fall. They moved on to other projects the rest of the summer.

I think you are assuming too much. If that's a guys project, selling horse hay, or running a dairy or perhaps a feedlot situation that's great. I don't think a beef cow requires that high of a quality to get by. You'd have a coronary seeing what's fed here. The guys in this area are not putting in more than what we have to really to keep cows fed. The exception is farmers who don't really watch the inputs too close or guys who are really using cows for the deductions/land acquisition deductions. They are not making money with it.
 

dun

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Just another case of there be no one way that is right for all producers. We fertilize and lime to test and make hay once a year. We do it anywhere from early may to late june, depends on the growth pattern each year and the weather allowing it to get done. After that one cutting we stockpile it for fall/winter grazing. In most years our hay requirements and feeding are minimal. But that is this farm with these animals nad our peculiar management.
 

TexasBred

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talltimber":1w7z7z72 said:
My Dad and Grandpa made hay once a year as do most in my area, fertilized in the spring or sometimes fall and nitrogen in the spring, made all the hay they needed for the year in one cutting. Grazed it later in the summer or stockpiled for the fall. They moved on to other projects the rest of the summer.

I think you are assuming too much. If that's a guys project, selling horse hay, or running a dairy or perhaps a feedlot situation that's great. I don't think a beef cow requires that high of a quality to get by. You'd have a coronary seeing what's fed here. The guys in this area are not putting in more than what we have to really to keep cows fed. The exception is farmers who don't really watch the inputs too close or guys who are really using cows for the deductions/land acquisition deductions. They are not making money with it.
Unless it's tested you don't know if it's good or bad. Could be much better than it appears. Nothing wrong with cutting once a year if that's all you need but at least cut it when it's the most nutritious !!!!!!
 

talltimber

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TexasBred":m02dbjhj said:
herofan":m02dbjhj said:
I feel I already know the answer to this, and I'm sure it's been discussed a million times, but I just want affirmation once more on hay quality.

I have some friends who have fescue and orchard grass hay which, is common here in Ky; they cut it Saturday and baled it today. My friend said he was glad he waited, because he said we've had great weather this spring with just the right amount of rain. He said he feels the hay is much better than it would have been had he cut it in May.

The grass was thick, but of course, already turning brown. My opinion is that his cows won't die this winter, but there is no way I could believe it's better than it was in May.

I know a few people who cut their hay once a year in September or October. I don't see how that is even worth putting out.

Isn't it true that once fescue and Orchard grass
get seed heads, it's already going in a negative direction as far as nutrients and quality?

Don't know if it's just being hard headed or stupid when you know the timing for your hay to be at it's prime then wait another month or two to cut it. But as some have said on here "It will make a turd".

I would agree, if it's by choice. I only know one guy that has the equipment to put up hay when it's time, almost regardless of weather. He's got plenty tied up in equipment that most can't or won't pay for. He's a farmer, with a background/warmup situation and uses it in his mix. With very few exceptions, hay made in the first half of May here is haylage/baleage. Not necessarily by choice, but by the weather. We just don't have very many days here suitable for making dry hay when the fescue really needs to be put up.

And the weathermen don't help much. I waited a day at a time to mow mine (after the baler man said he was getting close to getting to me). Calling for rain the rest of the week, daily percentages of 30 or more. Never rained a drop. Wasted a week.
 

Son of Butch

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herofan":1oom0w1p said:
So, it seems the bottom line is that it's better quality in May, but not a tragedy if it's cut in June.
Does that sound about right?
Yes... but, Weather plays such a big role in being able to "make hay while the sun shines" that sometimes you just can't
get it done at the ideal time.
 

chevytaHOE5674

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UP here there's really no such thing as hay in May, we don't have anything worth mowing until at least June.

But even so I'd rather have July or August hay that didn't get rained on and was able to dried down in 2 or 3 days over hay in June hay that got rained on once or twice and took 4 or 5+ days to get dried down enough to bale.
 

TexasBred

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chevytaHOE5674":1vb7sex1 said:
UP here there's really no such thing as hay in May, we don't have anything worth mowing until at least June.

But even so I'd rather have July or August hay that didn't get rained on and was able to dried down in 2 or 3 days over hay in June hay that got rained on once or twice and took 4 or 5+ days to get dried down enough to bale.
The month of the year is insignificant. The key is to cut it when the grass is "prime". Might be March... might be June depending on location and climate.
 

chevytaHOE5674

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Exactly. The OP was talking about the difference in May/June hay and that all depends on the climate, species of grass, etc.

I don't have a lot of test data but IMO putting up quality hay (IE dry, no rain, etc) is right up there in importance with when the crop is in its "prime". With my limited test data for my area; mowing a field when it 100% in its prime only to have it get rained on and take a week to shake it out and dry it down is worse than having overripe hay that gets put up nice and dry in a short window.
 

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