Dale Watson
Commercial Agriculture Beef and Livestock Specialist
University of Missouri Extension

 

 

 

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Please send your comments and sund suggestions to Dale Watson, Commercial Agriculture Beef and Livestock Specialist, University of Missouri Extension, 111 N. Mason, Carrollton, MO 64633, call 660-542-1792, or send messages by e-mail to: watsond@missouri.edu.
For the Week of
January 14, 1999

Moisture and Quality Forage

The fall rains of 1998 are still being observed in most of the forage stored outside either as large bales or in bunker silos. Considerable spoilage on large packages of hay is very evident. I urge you to take note of the amount of spoilage you have while feeding.

Keep in mind that approximately one third of your hay is in the outer twelve inches of the bale.

There is little that can be done to reduce this amount of waste at this time. However, after the rains and warmer temperatures throughout much of the fall the environment is basically quite conducive for the development of mycotoxin. These little creatures have not left the forage supply and are still present. The amount of growth or contamination has been reduced largely due to the colder environment winter has brought about.

This same effect can be observed on forage stored in bunker silos. The added moisture tends to accumulate near the sides and the forage stored in this area absorbs moisture to the maximum amount possible. The intake of beef cattle is based largely on the dry matter content of the forage.

Consumption on the as-fed basis will increase when forages containing higher moisture is fed compared to forages containing less moisture. Occasionally this increase in the amount consumed is referred to as the tanking up effect. This added moisture needs to be kept in mind when rations are being mixed for livestock consumption.

Management decisions can be made at baling time that will assist with reducing the spoilage we see at feeding. Simply adding additional twine at the baling process, by spacing the wraps at two- to four-inch intervals compared to the eight- to twelve-inch spacing frequently seen, will save considerable forage. Using net wrap will also assist with reducing the spoilage. Neither one of these practices will eliminate the rainfall on the large bales. However, these practices will channel the water off the bales and reduce the penetration of moisture into the hay. This channeling effect provides a method for the movement of water. Another method that looks promising is coating the bales or covering the horizontal silos with soybean soapstock. This product can be fed and has reduced the amount of spoilage when conducted under research conditions.

It is very hard to think about the amount of moisture falling on your hay supply when the temperature in July or August is ninety-five degrees or higher and you can drive across any wet spot in the field and not leave a track. However, keep in mind that for each one inch of rainfall on a bale of hay 5.5 by 5.5 converts to nearly nineteen gallon of water. Ten inches of rainfall on your hay stored outside adds up to nearly 190 gallons of water.


University of Missouri ExtensionDale's Country Trails - January 14, 1999
http://outreach.missouri.edu/agconnection/DCT/CT011499.html -- Revised: April 20, 2004
watsond
@missouri.edu