Excessive trampling in a concentrated eating area, such as around hay rings can reduce forage growth during the rest of the year. Encouraging cattle to congregate around hay rings also attributes to the spread of viruses and bacteria that cause the severe diarrhea and dehydration associated with calf scours.

Producers are finding ways to reduce mud and minimize hay waste at the same time. One suggestion is to unroll the hay bales on the ground. Unrolling hay bales allows more cattle access to hay at one time and grants greater access to the best quality hay from the center of the bail.

An electric wire stretched down the middle of the unrolled hay will reduce the incidence of cattle lying on their feed. This task, of course, will be difficult with cattle present. But if you regularly rotate cattle through multiple pastures, unroll the hay and set up the wire before you turn the cows out to eat.