Hay shortage? Be proactive!
It goes without saying that 2020 forage inventories have been generally low for the province, although some regions appear to have been much less affected than others.
This has been complicated for some farmers, who have had to innovate.
Before making any decisions, the first thing that you should do is conduct proper inventory assessments—one of your forage stocks and especially one of the animals to be fed in the coming year. Take the time to make consumption scenarios for several age groups and lactation stages. This is rarely done thoroughly, and you may have some surprises in store.
Maximize what’s in the field. Ensure that you maximize the yields that you can get from your remaining meadows: verify the optimal cutting stages, make the appropriate enrichments, cut high enough to allow better regrowth, and fertilize the right plants, with the right fertilizer, at the right stage. In short, optimize the management of your remaining meadows.
Treat the meadows reserved for your transition cows with care. For example, use nitrogen to maximize your first cut or even a chloride-based fertilizer to harvest low DCAD hay.
Another option is buying what you’ll miss. Buy what you need and, most importantly, what your animals need. Dry cows should not be fed the same hay as milking cows.
Another question to consider is if you find hay, what is the price when it is delivered to the farm? If the round bales delivered to the farm come to $70/bale, that means that it costs $280-$300/MT. But what is the nutritional value of this feed? How well was it stored? How many losses need to be calculated? Have you confirmed the real weight and the DM of the purchased bales? This will impact the price per tonne considerably!
Focus on harvesting good quality forage (digestibility, adapted, suitable DM, etc.).
Finally, some by-products and feeds can also be used to substitute part of the forage in your rations. Check with your agri-advisors to confirm whether the return on investment is worth the cost.
Solution: Synchro F-Plus
Synchro F-Plus is one of the solutions that you can use to substitute part of the forage in your rations. It is available in cubes at Sollio Agriculture and definitely worth considering.
When comparing the prices of hay and substitutes, you must also consider the nutrient intakes and losses of each to make the best financial decision for your business. You need to compare the cost of the calculated rations.
Synchro F-Plus is formulated to increase the digestible fibre content of rations and stimulate the consumption of dry matter when forage is more fibrous or quantities are limited. It can be used for replacement heifers, dairy cows, sheep and dairy goats. Synchro Pulpolac F3 can also be included in this approach.
TotalCalf: another solution
TotalCalf is a complete feed that is served with little or no forage to heifers age 0–6 months. It is an innovative concept that has proved itself over time and remains popular today. This highly appetizing product can be given in unlimited quantities, allows optimal heifer growth and ensures a greater uniformity of animal groups. No more headaches trying to find the ideal, tasty hay for calves!
Remember that the key is to start early. This allows you to stretch your forage inventory and avoid finding yourself with an empty warehouse too quickly.
- Forage and animal inventories
- Maximize the yields of current and future meadows
- Assess other set-up options to maximize volume
- Buy hay or and adequate substitute
Have a great harvest!
Jean-François Lemay, agr.
Advisor, Agribusiness Strategy - Dairy Production