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Economically Increasing Forage Production

If you’re in need of more hay or pasture land, your options are to:

  • Purchase hay from another producer
  • Buy or rent more hayland or pasture acres
  • Rejuvenate the acres you’ve got through
    • Chemical fertilizer,
    • Organic fertilizer, and/or
    • Incorporating legumes
  • Re-establish acres by tilling and reseeding

Which option is the most economical?

We’ve conducted a review of past research on increasing forage production with a greater focus on hay production for winter feed. Here’s the highlights of what we found:

  • Hay yields in Canada have been steady over the past 60 years; annual crops have had significant yield improvements.
  • Nutrient deficiency in soil is one of the important factors limiting forage productivity in Canada.
  • Yield response to fertilizer is unpredictable.
  • The profitability of fertilizing forage crops is highly variable. Its feasibility depends on the cost of fertilizer, hay prices and land value.
  • A cost effective way to increase forage yield is to add legume (alfalfa) to the mix. Management experience and use of available products prevent death losses from alfalfa related bloat.
  • Bale grazing systems have the potential to improve soil nutrient levels, hay quality and forage yield.
  • Research on forage varieties with higher yields and longer stand life is needed.

Learn more on our new webpage, Improving Forage Yields under Research >> Forage and Grasslands.

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AndrewMarch 28, 2014

1. You must work with mother nature and not against her --she always wins.
2. Not every operation has a land base suitable for cow/calf operations.
3. *** A greater focus on hay production is the worst alternative (economically) for meeting the nutritional requirement for the beef cow herd.
4. A greater focus on hay production is lining the pockets of Ag business and NOT cattle producers.
5. Many college educated "researchers" (with zero real life experience) only know what their Major Professors knew and by the time "cattle producers" get you all trained we are retiring.
6. How hard is it to do your own research instead of summarizing the past. Forget all these extraneous inputs > alfalfa, forget lining the pockets of Ag business: chemical companies, fertilizer companies-- as you should be helping the ranchers.
7. Research this college boy > Sainfoin and I will even give you an expert on the subject > Dennis Cash, extension forage specialist at Montana State University.

Which option is the most economical?


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