With the announced Aug. 2 opening of Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) ground in all Iowa counties for emergency haying and grazing for certain practices, producers may be wondering whether to use their land for those purposes. The Iowa Beef Center (IBC) at Iowa State University (ISU) is offering a new spreadsheet that estimates hay cost per bale or ton and grazing cost per day for CRP forage.
 
CRP pasture and hay won’t be high quality, but they can be used to extend other feed resource and help reduce pressure on other pasture and hay acres, according to ISU Extension and Outreach beef program specialist Joe Sellers, who developed the spreadsheet.
 
“The actual yield and quality of CRP tracts will vary, but in surveys conducted in past years, the average nutrient content has been 9.7 percent crude protein and 50.9 percent TDN,” Sellers said.
 
The spreadsheet calculates the forage cost per bale or ton of hay and the cost per grazing day, by accounting for the cost of 10 percent of lost CRP payment, the anticipated harvest cost and yields, he said. This tool will be useful in evaluating CRP as a feed alternative for cow-calf producers with short pastures and limited hay availability.
 
IBC staff member Garland Dahlke worked with Sellers to create the CRP Hay 2012 spreadsheet available at no charge from the IBC website. Click here to download the spreadsheet.
 
For assistance balancing beef cow diets with low quality hay, producers should contact their local extension beef program specialist.

Those interested in using CRP ground for haying or grazing must follow Farm Service Agency (FSA) rules and should direct all questions about CRP availability and the request process to their local FSA office.