Testing hay for nutrient value is always a good idea. But this year it’s especially important for cattle producers gearing up for spring calving.

A large amount of mediocre-to-bad hay made this year may not have the right amount of energy and protein beef cows need, warns Justin Sexton, beef nutrition specialist with University of Missouri Extension.

“Without testing, a nutritionist can’t build a cost-effective ration for winter supplement. The payback comes in not overfeeding or underfeeding on energy or on protein.”

Producers should test right before they start feeding. “Hay tested early can lose quality by feeding time, especially if stored uncovered outdoors."

After testing, sort the hay, he advises. “Feed highest-quality hay to high-value animals. In a spring-calving herd, that’s pregnant cows heading to calving time.”

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