– Due to recent
concerns of a potential hay shortage in West Virginia, the West Virginia
Department of Agriculture (WVDA), Farm Service Agency (FSA) and WVU
Extension Services are offering cattle farmers tips on how to maintain a
“Odds are we still
have six weeks left of winter, if not more. With being halfway through the
winter feed season, farmers must take stock if they have enough hay to keep
a well-fed and healthy herd,” said Commissioner of Agriculture Kent
Leonhardt. “If hay is in short supply, farmers will want to avoid turning
cattle out too early as it could have affects on pasture feeding for next
A potential hay
shortage is most likely due to an unusually wet 2018. The increased
rainfall lead to ruined and reduced hay crops. The WVDA is working with FSA
county offices and WVU County Extension agents to help farmers locate hay
supplies or work through alternative feeding methods.
hay or those selling hay are encouraged to contact their Farm Service
Agency county office, located within their local USDA Service Center,” said
FSA State Executive Director Roger Dahmer. “These lists are available to
the public and can help connect sellers, buyers and those in need.”
The WVDA, FSA and
WVU Extension Services are offering the following tips:
Inventory the hay supply on hand and compare it to feed
demand. Cattle prefer to eat about 2.5% of their body weight in hay dry
matter. That is about 28 lbs. of air-dry hay per 1000 lbs. body weight.
Locate available hay, straw or corn fodder for purchase.
This could mean trucking in feed from other states. Hay is generally the
least costly feed for beef cattle.
Consider limiting the hay to the animal’s nutritional
requirement. But be careful in doing so as cows need to be in a body
condition score of 5 or 6 at calving, if they are to conceive the next calf
Keeping the body condition up on cows in cold weather helps
reduce feed demand for maintaining body heat. Fat provides insulation from
the cold and helps reduce shivering.
Alternative sources of feed are soybean hull pellets, wheat
midds, whole cotton seed or cotton seed hulls. These fibers are high in protein
and should be available in West Virginia depending on your location in the
Other good sources of protein include dry distiller’s grain,
corn gluten feed or soybean. These feeds provide good energy without any
starch that would limit the digestibility of hay.
Corn is often the go-to feed when hay supply is limited.
However, corn is high in starch. If adequate protein is not mixed with the
corn, this ends up reducing the digestibility of fiber in hay. A 14 percent
crude protein feed made from commodity by-products without any corn
(limiting the starch) is another good option.
“Farmers need to
wait to turn out their herds until around April 15 in low elevations and
May 10 in higher evaluations. Proper planning and working with your fellow
farmers are ways to keep the heard healthy until that time,” Leonhardt
To locate your
local county FSA office: http://offices.usda.gov
can be found: