Ten keys to a profitable forage program

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Forages typically account for over half the cost of production of forage-consuming animals and provide most of their nutrition. Thus, it has a major impact on both expenses and income. The basic commodity is forage and animals are the harvesters or consumers. Efficient forage production and utilization are essential to a profitable operation. Below are ten keys to a profitable forage program:

• Know your animal’s nutritional needs and the forage options available to you.
• Establishment of forages is critical; use good quality seed.
• Test your soil prior to planting; fertilize and lime according to soil test results.
• Consider on a field-by-field basis what advantages legumes offer your operation.
• Emphasize forage quality; match forage quality to animals' nutritional needs.
• Prevent or minimize pests and plant-related disorders that reduce quality and quantity of production.
• Improve pasture utilization; match stocking rates with forage production.
• Minimize stored feed requirements by extending the grazing season. This can be done by stockpiling forages, grazing crop residues, incorporating additional species of cool and warm season grasses and legumes into your operation.
• Reduce storage and feeding losses. Research shows that 30% or greater losses can occur with big round bales of hay stored outside, and feeding losses can easily exceed this level or be higher when unrolling big round bales of hay.
• Results require investments. The best and most profitable forage programs usually have had the most thought and effort put into them. Investments include thought, time, effort, money and management.

 

 

 

 

Source: Jim Humphrey, Livestock Specialist



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