Hay Moisture Levels

We have had a very wet June this year and baling hay has been a tough thing for most farmers in the state.  Moisture levels have a direct effect on hay quality.  What I have found to be a consistent number in the literature is 20% moisture maximum.  To be more specific:

  1. Small squares to be 20% or less,
  2. Large round, 18% or less and
  3. Large squares, 16%

Hay baled at 20% moisture or higher has a high probability of developing mold, which will decrease the quality of hay by decreasing both protein and total nonstructural carbohydrates (TNC) AKA energy!  The mold will also make the hay less palatable to livestock and could potentially be toxic, especially for horses.  Even hay baled between 15%-20% moisture will experience what is known as “sweating”.  Sweating, in regard to hay bales, refers to microbial respiration, which will create heat and result in dry matter (DM) loss.  A good rule of thumb is that you should expect a 1% DM loss per 1% decrease of moisture after baling.  As an example, hay baled at 20% moisture that is stored and dried down to 12%; will result in 8% DM loss.

Understandably, this month has been a double edged sword in regards to losing quality by not baling, or losing quality by baling with moisture levels that are too high.  Therefore, my recommendation to ensure adequate livestock nutrition this winter is to have a forage analysis done on the hay baled this year.  Once you have those results, develop a corresponding supplemental feed program, if necessary, based on the nutritional requirements of your livestock.  Remember that grains are doing exceptionally well this year, so far.  This could possibly result in reasonable grain prices for the winter months…

Morgan County Garden Tour Planned for July 19

The Morgan County Master Gardeners will be hosting a summer garden tour in the McConnelsville vicinity on July 19, 2015. Cost is $5.00 with the tours beginning at 1:00 PM Sunday afternoon. Five local gardens will be featured, including the home and gardens of Galen Finley. Additional tour stops are scheduled at the Community Gardens near Morgan Junior High School at South Riverside Road and the Presbyterian Church will host a quilt show and feature landscape plantings around the church. An assortment of plants will be available for the public at the Button House on Main Street. Master Gardeners will be at each of the sites to answer questions or to assist attendees. Tickets can be purchased in advance at the OSU Extension Office located in the Riecker Building or at any of the tour stops the day of the tour.  The complete listing of tour stops and descriptions will be available soon. Contact the OSU Extension office at 740-962-4854 if you have questions.