Given the high price of hay this year, there could be an economic benefit to restricting the amount of time cows have access to hay for feeding. University of Illinois researchers conducted two trials with Simmental cows in the last third of gestation to determine the effects of restricting access time to large round bales of hay on cow performance and hay disappearance. In one trial, researchers offered high-quality alfalfa hay either free choice or with access limited to three, six or nine hours per day. The second trial used average-quality hay either free choice or restricted to six or nine hours per day. In both trials, longer access resulted in more hay disappearance, more hay waste and more manure production. In the first trial, longer access produced more weight gains, but weight gains did not differ in the second trial. The researchers note that as little as three hours per day of access time to high-quality hay provided acceptable cow performance while reducing hay expense and the expense of removing manure and hay waste.