Hay is forage that has been mowed (cut) and cured (dried) to be used as livestock fodder. It’s typically the first supply of nutrients for sheep throughout the winter months or dry season when most forage plants aren’t actively growing. Hay varies tremendously in quality, and while hay quality will be laid low with plant species, quality is decided largely by the maturity of the plants after they were harvested for hay.

Proper harvesting and storage is necessary to take care of nutritional quality of hay. Hay that is stored outside without cover deteriorates rapidly in quality. The only method to know the “true” nutritive value of hay is to own it analyzed at a forage testing laboratory. A list of certified forage testing laboratories will be found at www.foragetesting.org.

Hay could be a moderate supply of protein and energy for sheep and lambs. Whereas good grass

hays sometimes have as a lot of energy as legume hays, legumes have fifty to 75 percent more protein and 3 times as abundant calcium. But, a good quality grass hay can be a better source of nutrients than an occasional or medium-quality legume hay if it’s a lot of digestible.

The vital thing about hay is to feed the correct hay at the correct time. The isn’t any “best” hay. From an economical standpoint, the “best” hay is the hay that provides nutrients at all-time low cost. Palatability is vital to the extent that the a lot of hay sheep refuse the higher cost it will be.

A decent grass hay is usually additional than adequate for ewes during maintenance and in early to mid-gestation. It almost always meets the requirements of mature rams and weathers. A mixed grass-legume hay will be fed to ewes in late gestation to satisfy their requirements for calcium.

At the same time, a pure legume hay ought to be saved for the lactation diet because of its higher level of protein and calcium. On the opposite hand, if a grass hay is fed throughout late gestation or lactation, it may be necessary to supply a further supply of calcium to pregnant ewes and supplemental calcium and protein to lactating ewes.

       Legumes                                                                      Grasses

Bermudagrass Alfalfa
Bromegrass Birdsfoot trefoil
Kentucky bluegrass Cow peas
Native grasses Lespedeza
Orchardgrass Peanut
Reed canarygrass Red clover
Ryegrass Soybean
Tall fescue White clover/Ladino
Timothy Vetch

Ideally, hay should be purchased (or priced) in keeping with weight. A sheep’s nutritional necessities are based on weight not volume and you will not understand what it prices to feed your sheep unless you recognize how several pounds your sheep are eating and what the feed price per pound or ton is. Wastage (or refusal) conjointly factors into the price of hay.

The weight of hay bales (sq., spherical, and large sq.) varies significantly. When hay is purchased by the bale and you do not know what the bales weigh, you’ll be spending a heap additional for hay than you’re thinking that. Most hay auctions sell hay by the ton. If you get hay from a farm, you can ask the farmer to sell you hay by the ton and weigh the load of hay on a grain scale. Otherwise, you ought to weigh some representative bales, then negotiate a per bale value.

Purchasing hay: by the bale (volume) vs. by the ton (weight)

Price per bale Weight of bale Price per ton
$8.00 40 $400.00
$7.00 40 $350.00
$6.00 40 $300.00
$5.50 40 $275.00
$5.00 40 $250.00
$4.50 40 $225.00
$4.00 40 $200.00
$3.50 40 $175.00
$3.00 40 $150.00
$2.75 40 $137.50
$2.50 40 $125.00
$2.25 40 $112.50
$2.00 40 $100.00
$1.75 40 $87.50
$1.50 40 $75.00
$1.25 40 $62.50
$1.00 40 $50.00

If you turn out your own hay, the value to the sheep operation is that the “chance” value of the hay. An opportunity cost is that the value of a resource for its next-highest-worth various. Within the case of hay, this is often sometimes the income you’d receive from the hay if you sold it (less marketing costs).

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