CRP ‘Hay’ Requires Unique Management

Stan Smith, OSU Extension PA, Fairfield County

In response to forage shortages created by the drought, CRP acres were made available for “Emergency” haying and grazing. Deadline for mechanical harvest of those acres is this Friday, August 31.

Unfortunately, the very mature cool season grasses that are in most of our CRP fields will require a little extra effort to turn them into “feed.” They will be so mature – except, perhaps, for some renewed undergrowth if the field might have received some recent showers – that unless handled and fed properly they will be very UNdigestable, and if fed in a bale ring like much of our hay is typically fed, much of it will be wasted in the bottom of the ring. Unless these cool season grasses are harvested and stored as ensilage or baled with one of the newer “chop” balers, these forages need to be processed in something like a bale processor to make them more digestible, and then they are most efficiently fed in a bunk. This process also allows poor quality hay to easily be supplemented with protein or energy from alternative feed sources as needed.

Recently Dave Russell of the Brownfield Ag News interviewed Ohio State University Research Professor Francis Fluharty about the unique concerns related to managing and feeding the hay presently being made from CRP acres. Find that 7 minute interview under this link.

After listening to Dr. Fluharty’s thoughts on utilizing low quality forages, and having your forages tested, see this recent presentation by Rory Lewandowski on “Interpreting Forage Tests.”