Some folks are forecasting lots of snow this winter. Whether you believe the prediction or not, it’s best to be prepared for what comes, says Bruce Anderson, University of Nebraska Extension forage specialist.

“Will you be ready? Will you have adequate feed supplies for your livestock on hand? Will you have easy access to all your hay supplies during a blizzard? And will you be able to get it to your animals?” Anderson asks.

Hay stacks and round bales stored next to trees, or in low spots or along fence lines, can get drifted in during a blizzard, he says. In some cases, the access road to this hay might get drifted in. In a lot of sites, when the snow eventually melts during winter or next spring, it might be too muddy to get to the hay.

“I also wonder how well the hay is organized. Is good hay separated from poor hay? Has it even been tested so you know what hay should be fed to cows needing only a maintenance diet and what hay should be saved for animals needing extra protein and energy? And then, can you get to either one whenever you want?”

In addition, Anderson suggests producers test millet and cane hay for nitrates. After all, nitrate poisoning occurs most frequently when high nitrate hay is fed to hungry animals right after a snow storm.

“Don't neglect planning for bad weather in placing your hay yards. Then if storms do occur, you'll be ready,” Anderson says.
-- Bruce Anderson, University of Nebraska