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FACTORS OF HAY QUALITY

Posted Sep 13, 2017 by Alan Xu

As is known to us all, the most important factor of hay using is its quality. Considering about these factors, to most people who passing through rural areas, hay seems simple. Its dry, tough, and it feeds livestock. But hay grass is particularly hard to see the quality just from the look of it. The best way to know hay quality is running some test in the lab. But essentially, hay quality is affected by several major factors; stages of maturity, leafiness, color, foreign matter.

Today T&H Packaging lists all these four factors in detail, represented by the stage of maturity, which is the most important factor. The timing of hay cut is very crucial, cut your hay when the leaves have developed fully and the seed heads have not fully developed. This is the point when the hay will offer the best nutrition for your animals. If there are legumes, such as alfalfa and clover, in your hay field, you may need to harvest slightly earlier, when they are at 10 to 20 percent of full flower.

If the hay was cut too early, you will have a much lower yield than you have expected. If the hay was cut too late, the nutritive content in the hay will be too low, because when the seed heads start too ripe, the plant will be focusing on the seed production, all the nutritive content will head to the seed.

The second factor is leafiness. The more leaves in the hay the better. The maximum nutrient profile can be achieved by harvesting when the leaves start to appear. This give you the optimum nutrient profile for a great combination of hay with protein content, digestibility, and fiber content.  Leaves contain all the ‘juice’ for providing your livestock with a great source of protein. The goal is to harvest it with as many leaves and as few stems as possible.

Though color is not the best way to determine the quality of hay, it still shows the curing process of the hay. A green color is always a preference for dairy farmers.

The highest quality hay is free of foreign materials such as dirt and wire, as well as free of deterioration from harvesting and storage.  Foreign matter may seem irrelevant, but there are many antiquality factors that can discourage animal consumption such as thorns, bitter tastes, and pesticides.

High quality hay is important for the life and performance of your horses and livestock. Just like humans, your animals are what they eat. Make sure to use hay that was harvested at the right stage of maturity so you get balanced forage full of leaves and nutrients. So, use better quality hay, keep problems away. Thank you for paying attention on T&H Packaging, please not hesitating to contact us if you have any requirement.