BEEF Daily

How Is Your Hay Season Going?


Harvesting quality feedstuffs can be a challenge; how’s hay season going in your neck of the woods?

Hay season is off to a great start for my family, with a first-cutting nearly complete. We are busy stacking and moving round bales, and we have adequate moisture to assume a second-cutting won’t be too far away.

Harvesting quality feedstuffs can be a challenge, especially in very dry or very wet conditions. If there’s too much rain, the hay never has a chance to cure, which can lead to poor-quality, damp and moldy hay. The last few years, this has been our challenge, and feeding moldy hay to bred cows can lead to complications like abortions. On the flip side, a dry year can mean a shortage of hay to get through the winter months.

Warren Rusche, South Dakota State University (SDSU) Extension cow-calf field specialist, encourages producers to explore haylage and baleage as methods that allow them to harvest without needing to deal with rained-on forage.

According to Rusche, “The largest single advantage is that the hay only needs to wilt to about 35-45% dry matter; it does not have to completely cure. That means a shorter time interval between cutting and harvest, and reduced risk of losing forage nutrients due to rain. Also there should be less leaf shattering by chopping at a higher moisture content, which should result in higher quality, more valuable forage.”

For additional information on haylage and baleage, click here.

This week’s poll at asks: How are your hay-growing conditions?

With 134 votes in so far, 59% say, “Poor. We need moisture.” Another 25% say, “Good, but it could be better.” The final 16% say, “Excellent. We’re off to a great start.”

Vote in this week’s poll here. And, let us know how hay season is going in your neck of the woods.

Discuss this Blog Entry 6

on Jun 19, 2012

Parts of central and north central Montana are very poor. Not only is there very little hay but the grass is very short or nonexistent.

Anonymous (not verified)
on Jun 19, 2012

From what I saw with ours and the people I've talked to in Northeastern South Dakota we only got about 2/3 of a typical yeild for the first cutting. Shot of rain last night helped but could use more to make everyone feel more comfortable.

Mathena (not verified)
on Jun 19, 2012

Ours in Southern Il did about 2/3's as last year, as well. Hope my sdan gets some rain on it.

Anonymous (not verified)
on Jun 19, 2012

Very dry Western Tennessee crop about 3/4 yield.Next cutting not goig be that good unless rainfall picks up.

Marion (not verified)
on Jun 19, 2012

We have just finished our 2nd cut and we have harvested 5 ton per arce so far. Rained right after 1st cutting and fert. We are to receive rain now next day. It been dry but rains seem to come just in time. We were about a week late on 2nd cutting because of rain. Alfalfa is the crop 2nd year on a clear seeded field last year. 3crops last year. North central Iowa

Tom Smith (not verified)
on Jun 22, 2012

In southeastern Oklahoma, we had very good cool-season grasses and clovers, and many baled those. Warm-season grasses are stunted from lack of rain after May 1, and stands are thinner due to last year's drought. I'm getting reports of 60-80% of normal, but much better than last year. Unless it rains soon, those who didn't cut early won't get any hay.

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BEEF Daily Blog is produced by rancher Amanda Radke, one of the U.S. beef industry’s top social media “agvocates.”


Amanda Radke

Amanda Radke is a fifth generation rancher from Mitchell, S.D., who has dedicated her career to serving as a voice for the nation’s beef producers. A 2009 graduate of South Dakota State...

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