Tag Archives: Hay

The Great Debate: Harvesting vs. Grazing Forage

Contributed by Carl Stafford, Senior Extension Agent, Animal Science, Culpeper County

Wintering cost is one of the biggest expenses in producing beef cattle. John Howe, Spotsylvania Extension Agent, explained the difference in the cost of a pound of dry matter from pasture vs. that from harvested feed. He found that the equipment harvested feed can run 3 to 4 times the cost of that harvested by cattle.  Gordon Groover supports Howe in his article, “What I Know about Forage Economics,” Virginia Forager, Fall 2016, page 7.  He finds that each ton of hay could have more than $200 per ton equipment depreciation before “out-of-pocket” expenses are added.

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What I Know about Forage Economics?

Gordon Groover Extension Economist, Department of Agricultural & Applied Economics, Virginia Tech

First, the key assumption behind this article is that the farm business in managed to make a profit. A second assumption is that the environment farm business managers face is not constant, or to quote Heraclitus, (535 BCE), “The only constant is change.” That is, as prices and technology change then management strategies, enterprises, and capital investments must change for the farm to remain profitable.  For example, few cow-calf producers harvest and feed corn silage to their beef cow herd as opposed to what was a common practice 40-50 years ago. Corn silage was and is still a high quality feed for ruminants, yet the capital investment to plant, harvest, transport, store, and feed has increased the total costs of corn silage. On a relative costs basis and with the help of round bale technology the cost of making hay was less than corn silage, leading to wholesale Continue reading

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Reducing Beef Cow Numbers and Feeding Hay Fewer Days to Improve Profits

Tom Stanley, Extension Agent, Farm Business Management, Rockingham, Augusta, Rockbridge, Highland, and Bath Counties

These are good times in the cattle business with record high prices for calves and feed prices that have moderated following the severe drought in the Corn Belt in 2012. Beef cattle are the leading agricultural product in most Virginia Counties west of the Blue Ridge in terms of land use and gross receipts, thus the favorable cattle market is good news. The three to five year outlook for the cow/calf sector (the predominant type of beef production in Virginia) is very strong. This has many cattlemen contemplating how they might retain their own heifer calves or acquire additional cows to capitalize on this profitable environment. Continue reading

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Will horse owners buy my hay?

Peter Callan, Extension Agent, Farm Business Management, Northern District

A common question received at local extension offices during hay making seasoJennifer Nicole (Jeni) Lamb, PSci; with horse at Paris Mtn Stablesn begins with the phrase, “I just baled xx acres of nice green hay.” The initial phrase is followed by the following comment , “How much do you think the horse owners will pay for it?”

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Stockpiling Reduces Winter Feed Costs

By Peter Callan (peter.callan@vt.edu), Extension Agent, Farm Business Management, Northern District

Virginia Cooperative Extension livestock budgets show that winter feed costs comprise 60 percent of total costs for the typical fall calving cow/calf producers who feeds hay during the winter months.(1)  One way to lower total feed costs is by stockpiling forages for winter grazing.

Stockpiling is allowing forage to accumulated growth during the late summer and fall to be grazed by cattle instead of the normal practice of feeding hay after the growing season has stopped.   Continue reading

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Understanding the Value of Hay

Carl C. Stafford (ccstaffo@vt.edu), Extension Agent, Animal Science, Culpeper County

Buy hay while the sun shines, an adage that may help us understand that  hay will most likely never be any cheaper than at harvest during a surplus year.  This year is stacking up as one for the hay production record books here in the Northern Piedmont of Virginia.  Buyers seem to have many choices of cow quality hay, but horse quality is in short supply, thus buying now makes sense. Continue reading

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