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
November 18, 1999

Bale Counting a Necessity

The continued dry season has contributed to an increase in the hay consumption for many livestock producers. The increase in the length of the feeding period adds additional feed cost and increases the labor requirement compared to a normal feeding season. After all, we need to consider what is a normal year since the seasons continue to be flood or drought and sometimes both within a few months of each other.

A number of producers are already feeding hay and have been for some time. This is considerably earlier in the feeding season than we are accustomed to. Regardless of the future weather conditions we must consider the amount of forage we have on hand. Knowing what your hay inventory is, managing the daily consumption, and utilizing any type of crop residue available will certainly pay large dividends when we calculate the feed cost next spring.

Presently I know of several bales of hay that have been reduced to ashes as a result of fire of some origin. This has meant additional cost to many producers. Couple this problem with a reduced water supply and management is strained to the limit when we consider getting the livestock through the winter.

The price of hay gives the appearance of increasing in value. Frequently we are asked to provide a price for hay. This is very hard to determine unless a forage analysis is available. If this information is available indicating the quality of the forage, we can compare it to the price of corn and soybean oil meal for a related feeding value.

Another method that can be used is the Relative Feed Value placed on the forage sample. This number has no actual value but is an index that is used to compare forage samples using the important nutritional factors of intake and digestibility. An example of forage having a RFV of 100 would have a crude protein value of 15%, Acid Detergent Fiber of 38% and a Neutral Detergent Fiber value of 55%. The higher the RFV index the greater the nutritional quality of the forage.

The November 15, 1999 edition of the High Plains Journal gave the price of hay by RFV. Pricing hay using the Relative Feed Value point value system of $0.50 per point, Fescue hay cut in the early bloom stage with a RFV of 76 would have a market value of $38.00 per ton. Grass Legume hay with a RFV of 96 would have a market value of $48.00 per ton.

Other considerations regarding the price of hay include who loads the hay, whether or not the hay being delivered, the type of bales (large round or small square), the size of the bales and if the hay stored inside or exposed to the weather. These factors need to be considered when negotiating prices of hay.

University of Missouri ExtensionDale's Country Trails - November 18, 1999
http://outreach.missouri.edu/agconnection/DCT/CT111899.html -- Revised: April 20, 2004