Monday, July 24, 2017

Hay in the Barn

This year's unusually high amount of rainfall has led to excellent pasture conditions. The cattle are looking good, even in the heat of the summer. Sometimes summertime can be as hard on the condition of cattle as the dead of winter. This year, however, they are happy to lay in the shade all day and graze the plentiful grass in the morning and evening.  You may also conclude that the great pasture conditions would make for an excellent hay production year. In one way you would be right, but the devil is in the details. True, there will be lots of hay produced this year. Our farm is no different, we are making very good yields in the hay field. However, looking closer you will find that it has been hard to find a window in which to cut and dry hay. We, like many others in the area, harvested some hay last week. It was the first dry window we had had to do so. The bad news is that the grass was much older than it ideally would have been. As grass gets older, the carbohydrates convert from their tender digestible form into their more structural form called Lignin. More mature grass that is high in Lignin will produce more tons of hay, but the hay is of lower quality and less digestible for the cattle.  Its still worth harvesting, just not as good as it would have been under ideal weather conditions. But then again, when have we had ideal weather.