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Sorry Hay Costs More to Buy!

Running Arrow Bill

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When hay is available, people tend to buy any hay that is available, locally, and/or for the cheapest price. CP%, TDN, as well as other analyses are important. Here's something to think about:

  • 1. Given: 1000# bale, $100., 10% CP = .10 cents a pound on CP basis.
    2. Given: 1000# bale, $100., 5% CP = .20 cents a pound on CP basis.
    3. Therefore: Poor hay costs more than good hay.

USDA Data for Grass Hay:

  • Premium Hay: 13+% CP.
    Good Hay: 9 to 13% CP.
    Fair Hay: 5 to 9% CP.
    Utility (Poor) Hay: Less than 5% CP.

If the hay producer doesn't or won't test their hay and report numbers to you, then order a sample load, test it yourself (nominal lab fee), and make your future decisions from there.
 

grannysoo

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Running Arrow Bill":s0vv5o6w said:
Fair Hay: 5 to 9% CP.

I believe that's what you call that "horse hay". :banana: :banana: :banana:

Testing proves the numbers, however in an independent test (at my facility), 4 different grades of hay were tested by the professor (me).

I had not had this tested, but I knew the conditions in which they were baled, the amount of green in them (the redneck hay test), and the manner in which they were stored.

The cows were in total agreement with me. They ate the hay in the order of quality. The premium bale got ate first, then on to the 2nd quality, the 3rd, then they finally finished the 4th when nothing else was left. Bale 1 was premium, bale 4 was utility.

There is nothing wrong with cheap hay if the quality is there, however junk hay (referred to as "horse hay" around here) will starve your cows and send you to the poorhouse supplementing it. You don't always get what you pay for, however things are normally cheap for a reason. But in the hay business, it's always buyer beware because I've seen many of those guys buy some of my lesser quality hay, rebale it, and then have it turned into horse hay with the wave of the magic wand.

Them cows are a lot smarter than some of the people buying hay....
 

Running Arrow Bill

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We use the "Penn State Core Sampling Tool" available from some of the internet Vet suppliers. Use a 1/2" cordless drill to operate the sampling tool. We core sample random bales and put in a clean plastic bucket or box. Mix the samples up and put about a quart in new ziplock bag and send to lab.

We use SDK Labs in Hutchinson, KS. They have a printable order form. They have more extensive testing services than some of the Extension Service labs. A variety of test protocols. Has been well worth our money. Costs us about $16. for a comprehensive test of 12 to 15 nutrient items. Get results back in about 7 to 10 days.

Bill
 

LaneFarms

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The lab I use is Olsens Lab out of Nebraska. They have everything you need from samplers to the envelopes to mail it in. They have a quick turn around, generally about a week from when I mail it. www.olsenlab.com
 

Caustic Burno

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It cost a lot more I figure my cost is pushing 30 dollars a 4x5 bale this year with fertilizer and fuel cost alone.
Thats not counting baler repairs or the cost of the baler replacement. When I crunch the numbers at the end of the season hay isn't going to be pretty this year.
 

novatech

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Caustic Burno":g9h0r7ix said:
It cost a lot more I figure my cost is pushing 30 dollars a 4x5 bale this year with fertilizer and fuel cost alone.
Thats not counting baler repairs or the cost of the baler replacement. When I crunch the numbers at the end of the season hay isn't going to be pretty this year.
I will never figure out why so many farmers put so much stock into hay. Seems like most of the income from the cattle is put back into hay production. I am talking about the south with a longer growing season. Around here they will fertilize hay meadows and never give the pasture a second thought. If they would take care of the pasture they could cut the hay consumption in half. If they do fertilize the pasture then they stock so heavy there is nothing left to carry the cattle into the winter.
So to me the best way to cut my hay cost is to manage my pasture better. Anything a cow does not harvest itself is added expense that is directly out of pocket.
Another factor involved is the protein content of the hay. It is simply not necessary to grow high protein hay to maintain cows through winter. All the extra protein does is fertilize the pasture. Sometimes I think the cattle are better fed through the winter on expensive hay than what they get on their own in the summer. Many would be better off feeding low quality hay and suplementing with protein. At least it woud be controlable.
Probably the most beneficial thing a man could do is strive to raise more efficient cattle that could do better on less costly hay.

Sorry Hay Costs More!
Learn how to feed less.
You are a grass farmer first.
 

dun

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novatech":9gxn9tcr said:
Caustic Burno":9gxn9tcr said:
It cost a lot more I figure my cost is pushing 30 dollars a 4x5 bale this year with fertilizer and fuel cost alone.
Thats not counting baler repairs or the cost of the baler replacement. When I crunch the numbers at the end of the season hay isn't going to be pretty this year.
I will never figure out why so many farmers put so much stock into hay. Seems like most of the income from the cattle is put back into hay production. I am talking about the south with a longer growing season. Around here they will fertilize hay meadows and never give the pasture a second thought. If they would take care of the pasture they could cut the hay consumption in half. If they do fertilize the pasture then they stock so heavy there is nothing left to carry the cattle into the winter.
So to me the best way to cut my hay cost is to manage my pasture better. Anything a cow does not harvest itself is added expense that is directly out of pocket.
Another factor involved is the protein content of the hay. It is simply not necessary to grow high protein hay to maintain cows through winter. All the extra protein does is fertilize the pasture. Sometimes I think the cattle are better fed through the winter on expensive hay than what they get on their own in the summer. Many would be better off feeding low quality hay and suplementing with protein. At least it woud be controlable.
Probably the most beneficial thing a man could do is strive to raise more efficient cattle that could do better on less costly hay.

Sorry Hay Costs More!
Learn how to feed less.
You are a grass farmer first.

We're grass farmers that market our product via beef!
 

Jogeephus

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novatech":ltf0g9tm said:
Sometimes I think the cattle are better fed through the winter on expensive hay than what they get on their own in the summer. Many would be better off feeding low quality hay and suplementing with protein. At least it woud be controlable.

Good point but it is controllable if you know the quality of the hay. In my situation I know the quality of each cutting and store and feed it accordingly. Unfortunately stockpiling forages does not work well here and is unpredictable cause of our flip floppity weather that may give us rainy wet winters which will make stockpiled forages practically worthless or extremely dry winters with large variations in the temperature that make winter forages systems iffy at best AND we can't grow fescue. Hay offers asssurance. Our strong point is that we can produce so much tonnage in so little time its just that we cannot let nature store it. So in my situation, I choose to try and harvest the grass when its at its best nutirional value so it can be fed later but this isn't always possible and sometimes you have to harvest lower quality hay which is still better quality than stockpiled grass - in most years. I feed this to dry cows but once they begin to calve I begin switching to the better hay. Since my base nutrients are already in place and weather permitting, and assuming average quality, my next cutting will be equivalent to paying $12.50/ton for 12% feed - considering out of pocket expenses only.

I'm not saying this is the right way to do it but it is the best way I have found thus far to keep my costs down and make a profit in my situation. I'm still trying to figure out a good, reliable, cost effecient system for winter. If I can do this, life would be much easier and surplus grass would be addtional income.

novatech":ltf0g9tm said:
Probably the most beneficial thing a man could do is strive to raise more efficient cattle that could do better on less costly hay.

I agree completely with this and am working toward that end.
 

dyates

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Running Arrow Bill":3jg43np2 said:
When hay is available, people tend to buy any hay that is available, locally, and/or for the cheapest price. CP%, TDN, as well as other analyses are important. Here's something to think about:

  • 1. Given: 1000# bale, $100., 10% CP = .10 cents a pound on CP basis.
    2. Given: 1000# bale, $100., 5% CP = .20 cents a pound on CP basis.
    3. Therefore: Poor hay costs more than good hay.

USDA Data for Grass Hay:

  • Premium Hay: 13+% CP.
    Good Hay: 9 to 13% CP.
    Fair Hay: 5 to 9% CP.
    Utility (Poor) Hay: Less than 5% CP.

If the hay producer doesn't or won't test their hay and report numbers to you, then order a sample load, test it yourself (nominal lab fee), and make your future decisions from there.

Exactly right, except the numbers are different here. I can still get decent 5x5's and 4x5's (800-1100lbs) running in the 7-9% cp range for $20-$30 a roll. I put on very little fertilizer and still ended up with approximately $27 per roll in my own hay (1100 lbs at 8-9% cp). That doesn't count equipment costs. I probably would be better off to just buy all my hay and run more cows.
Btw, I don't buy into the idea that it takes a certain quality of hay to winter a cow. It will take more of a lower quality hay, but I make it just fine without protein supplements on hay that the universities claim a cow would starve to death on, no supplements. They waste a little more, but I figure cows have plenty of time to pick through a roll of hay and get the good stuff out.
 

mnmtranching

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I have a steel rod with a small hook or barb on the end. When I'm looking at hay to buy I will ram it into a dozen bales here and there. Pull out samples from the inner bale. Look it over and know how my cattle will do on it.
 

Stocker Steve

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Caustic Burno":3kx5bs27 said:
It cost a lot more I figure my cost is pushing 30 dollars a 4x5 bale this year with fertilizer and fuel cost alone.
Thats not counting baler repairs or the cost of the baler replacement. When I crunch the numbers at the end of the season hay isn't going to be pretty this year.

It seems like hay prices are drifting up (rather than jumping around like fuel, fertilizer & grain) as people realize what it costs to make hay. Good alfalfa/grass mix hay has gone from mid 20s to mid 30 per 4x5 the last couple year.
 

Running Arrow Bill

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dyates":1uzioruh said:
Running Arrow Bill":1uzioruh said:
When hay is available, people tend to buy any hay that is available, locally, and/or for the cheapest price. CP%, TDN, as well as other analyses are important. Here's something to think about:

  • 1. Given: 1000# bale, $100., 10% CP = .10 cents a pound on CP basis.
    2. Given: 1000# bale, $100., 5% CP = .20 cents a pound on CP basis.
    3. Therefore: Poor hay costs more than good hay.

USDA Data for Grass Hay:

  • Premium Hay: 13+% CP.
    Good Hay: 9 to 13% CP.
    Fair Hay: 5 to 9% CP.
    Utility (Poor) Hay: Less than 5% CP.

If the hay producer doesn't or won't test their hay and report numbers to you, then order a sample load, test it yourself (nominal lab fee), and make your future decisions from there.

Exactly right, except the numbers are different here. I can still get decent 5x5's and 4x5's (800-1100lbs) running in the 7-9% cp range for $20-$30 a roll. I put on very little fertilizer and still ended up with approximately $27 per roll in my own hay (1100 lbs at 8-9% cp). That doesn't count equipment costs. I probably would be better off to just buy all my hay and run more cows.
Btw, I don't buy into the idea that it takes a certain quality of hay to winter a cow. It will take more of a lower quality hay, but I make it just fine without protein supplements on hay that the universities claim a cow would starve to death on, no supplements. They waste a little more, but I figure cows have plenty of time to pick through a roll of hay and get the good stuff out.

I used the "multiples of 10" for easy understanding and calculating. More of a "formula" than actual event.

Bill
 

grannysoo

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novatech":bg1m0h3u said:
I will never figure out why so many farmers put so much stock into hay. Seems like most of the income from the cattle is put back into hay production. I am talking about the south with a longer growing season. Around here they will fertilize hay meadows and never give the pasture a second thought. If they would take care of the pasture they could cut the hay consumption in half. suplementing with protein. At least it woud be controlable.

Hay is a necessary evil here. Hay feeding and hay production is something that's not going to change in South GA. We can't stockpile the grasses like other areas of the country do.

We do fertilize our hay fields, and we also fertilize our pastures too. Hay feeding is not something that I want to do, but is something that I am required to do in our area.

We plant rye for them to eat during the colder months, but that may do well, it may not.

As to the quality of hay, I want to produce the highest quality of hay that I can with the highest protein level, and the lowest price. So much of the quality and the protein are determined by when you cut, the maturity of the grass, the weather, and how much the hay is handled. No point trying to cut lower protein/quality hay when you can cut better.
 

novatech

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grannysoo":rfz48ipw said:
Hay is a necessary evil here. Hay feeding and hay production is something that's not going to change in South GA. We can't stockpile the grasses like other areas of the country do.

We do fertilize our hay fields, and we also fertilize our pastures too. Hay feeding is not something that I want to do, but is something that I am required to do in our area.

We plant rye for them to eat during the colder months, but that may do well, it may not.

As to the quality of hay, I want to produce the highest quality of hay that I can with the highest protein level, and the lowest price. So much of the quality and the protein are determined by when you cut, the maturity of the grass, the weather, and how much the hay is handled. No point trying to cut lower protein/quality hay when you can cut better.
I realize that in many areas one cannot stockpile forage. Also lactating cows and growing heifers need more protein than dry cows simply being maintained. Also since I have rarely ever been out of the state I have a bit of tunnel vision seeing thing from my perspective. Most of the people on the boards seem to have pretty fair management skills. So my comments are not directed at this minority, but rather the vast majority as far as my tunnel vision will let me go.
Some thoughts;
Calving season can be adjusted so you do not have to feed such high quality hay? Dry cows only need 6% protein.
Adjusting protein levels for each cutting of hay in order to be able to feed the level required.
You can separate your cattle and feed different quality according to their needs? Feeding 12% protein to those that require it.
Test your hay. Anything over 12% is a waste of fertilizer. (My openion)
Do a price comparison between protein supplement and fertilizer.
Stocking rate adjusted so cattle go into winter in good condition so you are not feeding up but just maintaining.
 

Alberta farmer

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I agree pretty much with novatech. A dry beef cow can get by on lower quality hay(6% is maybe a bit low). I basically quit growing hay about ten years ago( I have about 15 acres that my sister owns) mainly because I could buy hay cheaper than growing it. I do have a decent baler(for baling straw), old haybine etc. but they are not big enough or new enough to bale 300-400 acres! I figure if you aren't running equipment over 500 acres or more it doesn't make sense to own it...or not for me anyway as I will not work with junk on that scale.
I don't have a problem buying hay with a high protein content, I just adjust it by feeding more straw so the protein content falls into that 7.5 to 9% range. Actually I would rather pay more for hay in that 13% range and adjust it by feeding quality straw than buy that cheap, rained on several times, over mature garbage! If I can haul one good hay bale and it basically turns into two through straw... it makes more sense to me in both time and money! Now that only works if you have your own straw at home.
 

Jogeephus

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novatech":iddo2259 said:
Some thoughts;
Calving season can be adjusted so you do not have to feed such high quality hay? Dry cows only need 6% protein.
Adjusting protein levels for each cutting of hay in order to be able to feed the level required.
You can separate your cattle and feed different quality according to their needs? Feeding 12% protein to those that require it.
Test your hay. Anything over 12% is a waste of fertilizer. (My openion)
Do a price comparison between protein supplement and fertilizer.
Stocking rate adjusted so cattle go into winter in good condition so you are not feeding up but just maintaining.

Well thought out thoughts. :tiphat:

Study in my area showed that you can gross more money per calf using a fall calving season BUT the costs associated rise such that the difference in net is little if any.

Setting a goal for the best quality in hay cutting is my norm BUT many times other things get in the way of my reaching my goals and so so hay is often produced.
 

Caustic Burno

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Dead on about adjusting calving seasons to fit your enviroment, here late summer to fall is the best IMO.
Cooler weather is just around the corner milk production is higher as well as growth in cooler weather. Hard to put pounds on anything that doesn't have Brimmer in it at a 100+ deg days. Draw back is you have to carry more hay to carry a wet cow and calf through the winter to sell in early spring. This is why I believe there is no such thing as to much hay. I can satisfy a cows needs on 3 pounds a day you still need 27 pounds of hay to fill her up.
Bad hay beats an old tractor fan belt to chew on in the winter. In drought years I have baled pipeline rightaways pond dams have even baled water grass out of dryed up sloughs. No matter where you are the cow business runs on grass without it you have no business. Fellow ask me one time what is the best grass I said the kind that grows in my pasture with the least maintainence.
 

MoGal

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We're guilty of feeding better quality hay in the winter..... the cows are all pastured on fescue but our hay is alfalfa (mostly 70% alfalfa 30% orchard grass) or orchard grass/clover bales. I asked the hubby if the cows were spoiled and he says they know it, however, I don't think the most of them do as we've raised them so they don't know any different.

Because we had so much rain this spring we were late cutting the first cut of alfalfa (so I'm sure the quality is down) but we managed to get 90 round bales off 20 acres so we're well on our way towards our needed 200 bales. We kept 9 calves from last year so will have to adjust up about 25 bales for this year.

There's lots of hay in this area (and plenty left over from last year, especially fescue). The bro-inlaw says he's got someone interested in the 2nd cutting of alfalfa (square bales wired tied about 60# bales) for.................................. $2.00 per bale................ I don't think so.... I'd rather round bale it and feed to the girls than sell it for that. Actually it irritates me to even think about it... even though diesel is less this year that silly wire is $50 roll and I had to pay $13 a piece for them blade thingies (whatcha ma call its).

We have 30 of the girls calving in late Sept, Oct. and Nov. and the other 20 should be April/May. I think we'll do much better with that.
 

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