Hay By The Ton Or By The Bale?

Let’s say you need good-quality grass hay and find one hay-for-sale listing for $40-70/ton and another for $20-40/bale. Which would be the better deal? Gene Schmitz, University of Missouri Extension livestock specialist, suggests the following in an article called “Buying Or Selling Hay.”

“The only way to compare hay priced by these two different methods is to weigh the bales and then compare cost on a weight basis. Producers don’t need to weigh every bale, but weighing random trailer loads as they are being hauled off the field gives an estimate of average bale weight.”

Wisconsin Extension agents offered a Bale Weight Project in an effort to educate buyers and sellers about the importance of weighing their hay. Read “Don't Eyeball Bale Weights.”

Crop Water Use Debate

After another round of news stories about how “water-intensive” alfalfa and cotton are, Donald Anthrop, professor emeritus of environmental studies at San Jose State University, penned a response. Writing in the Contra Costa (CA) Times, he counters the idea that the crops should not be grown in California as the state faces water shortages.

“The single top-valued agricultural commodity produced in the state in 2012 was milk with a farm value of $6.9 billion. Milk-producing cows need alfalfa. California has an ideal climate for alfalfa production because rain rarely falls during the growing season, and rain can ruin hay that has been cut."

Consider Round Bale Silage

It’s a good year for advice on how to harvest quality hay in wet weather, at least in the Midwest. But if quality has dropped because seed heads have emerged, or the hay has been rained on, one option is round bale silage, or wrapped baleage, suggests University of Missouri Extension.

“Round bale silage is usually harvested at around 50 to 60 percent moisture levels, compared to the 18 percent moisture level for drier hay. Many silage producers tend to prefer to stay on the lower end of that level, but there is a point where it becomes too dry to adequately ensile.”

Can Agriculture Attract Young People?

It’s no secret that farming has increasingly become an older person’s game. In a piece for the Christian Science Monitor, Danielle Nierenberg and Sarah Small assert one way to attract young people to agriculture: showing it provides jobs – and career advancement possibilities.

“Farmers, businesses, policy-makers, and educators need to promote agriculture as an intellectually stimulating and economically sustainable career—and make jobs in the agriculture and food system “cool” for young people all over the world.”

It doesn’t help that Extension and university budgets the past several years – particularly in the forage arena – have been so lean.

The Right To Farm?

Missouri could be the next state declare a right to farming at the state level, joining North Dakota and Indiana in a push back against animal advocates and opponents of genetically modified crops including Roundup Ready alfalfa. Missouri residents will vote Aug. 5 whether to amend the state constitution to say the right to farm and ranch shall be guaranteed, reports the Associated Press.

“Supporters hope the wording provides a legal shield against initiatives that would restrict particular farming methods ... Others hope to pre-empt any proposals to ban genetically modified crops similar to ones recently passed in southern Oregon “

Oats And Turnips For Fall Grazing

Looking for an option for fall and winter grazing? Consider planting oats and turnips right after early maturing corn-silage fields are harvested, says Mary Drewnoswki, University of Nebraska beef systems specialist.

“When seeding in mid-August you can probably expect 1 to 2 tons of grazeable forage. Oats in a vegetative state will range from 60 to 75% TDN (Total Digestible Nutrients) and contain 12 to 20% CP (Crude Protein). Turnips will range from 70 to 80% TDN and 14 to 22% CP. Thus oats and turnips make a great feed source for growing or lactating cattle such as fall calving cows.”