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hay palatability and test results


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#1 Production Acres

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Posted 13 April 2009 - 10:10 AM

what are the best indicators of hay palatability on a forage analysis.
for example, in grass hay, will animals generally regect hay less than 82 rfv or 78 or what - and is the adf or the ndf or wsc a better indicator?
same question on alfalfa - what #'s can one ascribe to animal regection or acceptance
please don't tell me nice green sweet smelling hay - we are past that! I need some real indicators that are objective.

#2 kenny chaos

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Posted 13 April 2009 - 06:24 PM

what are the best indicators of hay palatability on a forage analysis.
for example, in grass hay, will animals generally regect hay less than 82 rfv or 78 or what - and is the adf or the ndf or wsc a better indicator?
same question on alfalfa - what #'s can one ascribe to animal regection or acceptance
please don't tell me nice green sweet smelling hay - we are past that! I need some real indicators that are objective.



What's wrong with green and sweet smelling?
A little salt can make any hay more palatable if that's what you want.
I thought hay was dried grass fed to an animal.
Don't be fooled by the numbers. That's why the world is in the economic mess it is.
Too many educated idiots!

#3 Production Acres

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Posted 14 April 2009 - 06:44 AM

We buy about 40 ton of hay a day - and a lot of different types of hay from all over the country, sometimes, a few numbers help a lot! I have been told that a dairy cow will only consume 7 #'s of ndf per day - no matter what the other #'s are, but that is assuming that the ration is comming out of a tmr wagon which by virtue of the grain and perhaps silage, would enhance the taste. But do you generally see regection on a whole hay product when the ndf gets above 70 or 60, or does another # work better. Dr. Bates with U.T. Plant Sciences said yesterday that we might have to start judging each sample of hay that we recieve like it was in a hay contest. For example, alfalfa would get a numerical score based upon appearance x .25 then the rfv would be x .75 add the 2 numbers together and that is the score. Then keep track of the #'s adn when we determine what is working, we might have a good score to work with that will be indicative of quality. As the # is partly subjective, each persons #'s will vary a little, but would give a baseline for their operation as long as they were honest. I think we will start trying that unless we can get any better ideas.

#4 hay wilson in TX

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Posted 15 April 2009 - 01:24 PM

A nice green color is not a player in animal acceptance.

I have seen cattle relish and devour hay that has turned black and had a *different* smell when a lush green pasture was the alternative. Why? I have not the foggiest idea.

Young Gary Bates has a good thought. Should work for the individual who is feeding a few animals. Probably be too labor intensive to pay with a 3,000 cow milking herd. If you see Gary tell him hello for me.

The rule of thumb of how much an animal can consume being a factor of NDF has validity.

The best expert on how much of what forage an animal will eat is the animal.

I offer a bale maybe two to a new customer to try. If their animals like my hay come back. If you do not come back then I assume the animals did not like my hay enough better than a less costly alternative from down the road.

#5 Production Acres

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Posted 15 April 2009 - 03:16 PM

I was hoping you might comment on this idea Mr. Wilson. Our problem is that as stated before, we buy a lot of hay, slice it into small bales and redistribute it across the southeast. When you load a load of hay on a truck and send it to a new customer 500 miles away from you, it is fairly important that the animals accept it readily. We can accurately represent the hay from a description standpoint. We can accurately represent it from a forage analysis standpoint. But when they just don't relish the hay, that causes problems.
Yes, we do sell a lot of 160 rfv orchard/alfalfa that is beautiful 2nd or 3rd cutting hay and it will have no rejection problems, but the hay most horses need(very little work - too much grain) is around 10-11% protein and probably 80-90 rfv. The problem is that when you get in that medium grade timothy or timothy/alfalfa or orchard/alfalfa hay, the difference between good feeding hay adn "they just don't eat it very well" or "they waste too much hay" is very slight.

#6 hay wilson in TX

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Posted 18 April 2009 - 04:41 PM

Not too much different than what I see here.
I will say one thing if a donkey likes the hay it is a strange grazing animal that does not like the hay also.

That said. I have delivered hay to a *high society lady-* with a few magnificent horses that are little used. She complained her hay her horses would not tough some 12% CP Coastal Bermudagrass hay. I swapped out her hay including the bales she broke open. The second batch of hay was again 12% CP bermudagrass hay and her pets ate that hay no problem.
When I left her place I delivered her rejected hay to a fellow with some Texas Bred Thoroughbred mares. They did not have any problem with the hay. Sold the entire rejected load, but did not charge for the broken bales.
That *sweet lady* can stomp her feet, hold her breath until she turns blue but she still will not get any more hay, from me.
As for the problem of the horse owning public liking to feed poor hay and make up for it with grain and sweet cubes, we can try to educate them but it will be difficult.

I tend to look at TDN over RFV or RFQ ratings. I have an advantage in that most of my hay stays in the county. I cut, rake, bale, & put the hay in the barn my self. This gives me the advantage of maximum Quality Assurance.
I have the luxury of not cutting more hay in one day than I can bale in one day. We have maybe 3 hours of baling during the day and maybe 5 hours if I went back to night baling.
I cut close to local noon for a reasonably good nonstructural carbohydrates, and still have enough time for the hay to cure down so the plant will have little or no respiration over night. I figure I pick up 4% sugar by the time I cut and loose 2% of that sugar during the first day's curing. This also gives me an animal acceptance advantage.
Baling I start as the humidity, at the windrow, goes below 70% and get have things running when the humidity is 65%. This first hay will bale at between 20% & 18% moisture. I have an on the go moisture tester to keep track of the baling moisture. As the moisture goes down I get off and adjust the bale weight and length. They tell me haw will start shattering leaves as the humidity, still at the windrow, goes down close to 50%. At this time the hay is baling at 14% to 12% moisture.
I emphasize humidity at the windrow because it is not unheard of for the ground to still be wet with dew when the humidity at eye level, on the back porch, or the weather station to be 55%.
The first bales of the day, those at 20 to 18% moisture end up on the top tier of the stack in the barn, or in the last stack picked up, using a NH 1003 bale wagon. All in the name of QA.

#7 hayray

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Posted 27 April 2009 - 06:38 AM

There are grazing preference trials that show palatability ratings for forage crops. Michigan State University Forage Informaiton Systems website has some palatability ratings. Generally orchardgrass and brome are more palatable then fescue and more so then festolium. Grass species are preferred over most legumes. Clovers alfalfas are preferred over trefoil when mixed. Other factors besides species is stage of growth, percent of plant structural compounds like lignin, often ADF and NDF give some idications of this. Presence of compounds like tannins and phenolics, like tannins in trefoil may decrease palatability but make trefoil a non-bloat legume.




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