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Harvest & Storage

Forage quality doesn’t increase after harvest, so it’s critical to achieve optimal harvest and store it right to reduce loss. Let our experts tell you how.

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The following came in response to the article 'Drying forage for hay and haylage' which appeared in the May 2011 edition. Click here to read the original article.

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Spring winds, unwelcome frosts and the occasional rainstorm have been reminding us that crop season is upon us once again.

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The most common technique in North America for harvest of forage crops is making hay. When put up correctly, hay is cost-effective, meets the nutritional needs of nearly all classes of livestock and, if protected from weather damage, can be stored almost indefinitely.

Round bales have become the industry standard in many areas for haymaking systems due to their capacity, the mechanization of hay handling and the reasonable cost of the machinery required.

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Historically, when hay was stacked loosely (without binding), it may have dried more extensively than modern stacks because of the time required for hand labor.

When small bales became the most common method for harvesting hay from 1950 to 1975, the bales were hand-stacked, weighed 40 to 80 pounds per two-string bale and density was 8 to 11 pounds per cubic foot.

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Alfalfa may be considered the “queen” of forages, but it is also known for its low tolerance of less-than-ideal soil conditions and management.

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Fluctuations in milk prices, feed costs and government programs are forcing dairy farmers to become more efficient with their farm operation.

Since feed accounts for approximately one-half of the total cost of producing milk, and high-quality forage optimizes the productivity of the animals, increasing the quality of forage available is one of the best methods of improving overall feeding efficiency.

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