Paddock Talk – When to cut hay or silage

October07

Paddock Talk – When to cut hay or silage

When to cut hay and silage – Quantity vs Quality

With the warm weather upon us many producers are in the midst of cutting or waiting to cut pastures and/or crops for hay and silage. The million dollar question is ‘When do I cut?’ and the honest answer is ‘It depends’.

To elaborate on that answer a bit further, it depends on what you are wanting to do with that feed later on. Fodder conservation is all about maximising the quantity and quality of feed in the bale or stack.

If you are looking to finish animals or feed lactating ewes or cows later on you will need the highest quality feed possible, if you are simply looking for a forage for maintenance of dry ewes or cows then you can afford to give up a little quality for more tonnes of dry matter. Similarly, if you are producing fodder to sell then think about your potential market and what they might be looking for.

In terms of good quality I am referring to high levels of digestibility, metabolisable energy (ME) and protein.

In general, the earlier we cut the higher the quality but potentially lower the yield, the later we cut the higher the yield but lower the quality. Silage will often produce higher quality feed than hay from the same cut.

 

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