Livestock Product Array

Forage is Not Just for Horses!

Standlee offers a complete line of baled and bagged forage products and other fine products such as Beet Pulp, Straw and Shavings that will accommodate multiple livestock animal’s needs.

FEATURED EXPERTDr. Stephen Duren, M.S., Ph.D., PAS

Dr. Stephen Duren, a native of Soda Springs, Idaho, completed his Bachelor of Science in Animal Sciences at the University of Idaho. Dr. Duren, founder of Performance Horse Nutrition, LLC®, earned a Master of Science and a Doctor of Philosophy in Equine Nutrition and Exercise Physiology from the University of Kentucky. Dr. Duren is recognized by American Registry of Professional Animal Scientists as a member in good standing. He is also a member of the Equine Science Society (ESS) where he served as a board of directors’ member.

READ NUTRITIONAL PAPERS
Dr. Stephen Duren
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        "author": "Jessica Wright",
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Forage (fiber) is the most important part of any horse’s diet. The majority of horses get their forage requirements from hay. Most horse owners go to great lengths to ensure their horse grain is stored in a secure location, but hay storage is not always held to the same standards. When it comes to hay storage, there are a few things horse owners can do to help guarantee their hay will stay in good condition and have minimal loss and waste:

\n

Do not allow hay to get wet

\n

Water and moisture cause mold and are the biggest culprits in hay losses. Mold and other organisms that grow on hay can make your horse sick. Mold can cause skin allergies and inflammation, as well as respiratory problems. Mycotoxins are harmful compounds produced by molds and these toxins can cause a wide range of clinical signs in horses, including respiratory, gastrointestinal, neurologic, and reproductive problems, even death.

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Standlee Premium Product packaging is not waterproof due to perforations made in the bags. These tiny piercings made to the bags serve two purposes: to allow air to be released during the packaging process and prevent condensation from developing within the bagged product. This minimizes product damage when stacking products on pallets during the production and delivery process and reduces the chance of mold developing due to condensation. Be sure to store bagged Standlee products in the same environment as baled long-stemmed forage and not out in the weather.

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Pest proof your hay storage area

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Seal rodent holes and attempt to detour larger wildlife, such as raccoons, from moving in during winter months. Not only do these animals deposit feces which can carry several diseases, including Equine Protozoal Myeloencephalitis (EPM), but they can also chew through twine, creating a mess in your hay storage area.

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Do not stack hay on the ground

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Stacking bales on pallets encourages air circulation beneath the bales and can help prevent the bales from absorbing condensation from the ground. Hay bales stored on wet surfaces can have as much as 50% spoilage. Try not to stack hay directly against a wall, especially an external wall, as this will also decrease air circulation and can heat up hay unnecessarily, potentially causing mold growth. Hay can be stored outside if it is stacked on pallets. Tarps or other coverings should be used to protect bales from dust, sun and moisture.

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Minimize the risk of fire

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Fire in stored hay may occur from either external or internal causes. Internal heating is a direct result of microorganism activity in hay stored at excessively high moisture levels. Even if excessive heating does not result in a fire, it will reduce forage quality. A caramel smell may indicate that the hay is becoming hot. A metal pipe or rod driven into the center of the stack can be pulled out from time to time to feel for heat. Hay that is extremely hot or beginning to steam, often smolders until the stack is pulled apart, at which time the increased oxygen can cause the bales to burn more rapidly. Moisture and heat should be monitored for about two to six weeks after freshly baled hay is stacked in a barn or shed. When hay temperature remains below 120 degrees Fahrenheit, it is considered safe. The range between 120 and 140 degrees is considered a caution zone in which the hay should be closely monitored. If the temperature rises to 160 or above, a fire is likely. Fire is imminent if interior bale temperatures exceed 175°F and fire is present at temperatures greater than 200°F.

\n

Always use the oldest hay first and rotate your bales so that the oldest hay is in the front of the stack. As long as moisture entry is completely avoided from any direction, and the hay was adequately dry when put into storage, it should keep indefinitely (Table 1). Regardless, it's a good practice to always use older hay first.

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Nutrient Content of Stored Hay

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This is a common horse owner concern. If hay has been stored in a dry environment, it’s suitable for feeding for a long period of time after harvesting. The nutritional value of hay remains relatively constant, whether a horse eats it two months or two years post-harvest.

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If hay is baled with a moisture content of 10-15 percent, it should not lose more than 5 percent of its original dry matter during the first year of storage. It will lose very little of its digestible nutrients during that time or in succeeding years. Exceptions – The hay will suffer some loss of carotene, the pre-cursor of vitamin A, following one year of storage. It will also lose vitamin e content within approximately 1 to 2 weeks of cutting and baling.

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Large bales stored outside will suffer variable losses, depending upon a combination of factors. These factors include:

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Long-term storage does increase the dryness of hay, in some instances. Dry hay tends to be more brittle, so more may be wasted during feeding. Hay that has been in storage for longer periods is more prone to accumulation of dust. This is likely due to increased dryness. Total dry matter losses increase with more exposure to environmental conditions (Table 1).

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Table 1. Longevity of Stored Hay
Hay Storage OptionsStorage Longevity (Years)Dry Matter Loss (%)
Conventional Shed204 to 7
Tarped on Pallet54 to 7
On Ground125 to 35
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Standlee Western Premium Forage goes to great lengths to ensure their fields are planted, watered and forages are harvested at the peak of nutritional value and quality. Forage is then, immediately upon harvest, either covered on all sides (bottom, top, sides), so no sunlight or weather elements can access the hay, or it is stored in sheds at the plant.

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Storage of Standlee bagged products should be handled similarly, keep these bags in a dry area, under cover and away from rodents. In general, feeding hay within 2 years of purchase is recommended. In hot, high humidity climates, moisture content might increase and reduce storage life. In the summer months, do not purchase more bagged product in humid environments than you can comfortably use within a 14-day period. In high heat and humidity, open the corners of the bags or compressed bales to allow heat to escape and allow air to circulate. Do not stack bags more than 3-4 high and leave room between stacks to further allow air circulation.

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By Dr. Tania Cubitt
Standlee Nutritional Expert - Performance Horse Nutrition

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References:

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Cattle are ruminant animals, meaning they have a four-compartment stomach that is designed to ferment and digest plant fiber (pasture/hay). The intricate stomach design retains fiber long enough so bacteria and other microorganisms can ferment and digest it. This fiber digestion process allows for massive fiber intake, followed by hours of regurgitating, re-chewing and re-swallowing of the partially digested fiber.

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With a digestive system uniquely designed to digest fiber, cattle rely heavily on quality fiber to satisfy their nutrient requirements. Cattle are capable of a daily fiber intake of up to 3% of their body weight. With this high fiber intake, cattle can easily satisfy their calorie and protein requirements when fed high-quality fiber (pasture/hay). Add free-choice supplementation with a trace mineral salt designed for cattle, along with fresh clean water, and nutrient requirements are satisfied. Cattle are notorious for being able to consume poorer quality fiber including tall, dry, mature pasture plants. They are also capable of eating “cow hay” which is a term that describes baled hay that was cut past optimum maturity and may have weather damage from outside storage conditions. When cattle consume these poorer quality fiber sources, their voluntary intake decreases to 2 – 2.5% of body weight. Since quality of fiber and intake is reduced, the cattle will require additional energy, protein and mineral supplementation to satisfy nutrient requirements. These nutrients are typically supplied by supplementing a portion of the diet with high-quality forage, such as alfalfa, or by providing free-choice access to molasses-based lick tubs with protein and minerals added to them.

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Feeding Cattle in Winter

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Many areas of the country are experiencing unprecedented cold, snowy weather. One of the major concerns for feeding cattle during extreme weather conditions is keeping them warm and as comfortable as possible. The solution to keeping them warm and comfortable lies within their digestive system. Rumen bacteria are not 100% efficient when they ferment fiber; a by-product of this fermentation process is heat. The heat produced from less than 100% efficient plant fermentation helps to keep cattle warm and comfortable. Cattle can have snow on their backs and be out in cold, windy weather and be completely warm if their rumen is full of forage to ferment. So, offering high-quality, free-choice hay is the best solution. Determining which forage type to select for cattle in the winter depends on the nutrient requirements of the cattle.

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Alfalfa Forage

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Feeding mature cows that calved in the fall and are producing milk, or cows that are due to calve early in the spring, both have high protein and energy requirements. These cows benefit from the high protein and energy content of alfalfa forage. Similarly, if feeding yearling steers or replacement heifers that are not being supplemented with grain and protein supplements, alfalfa forage is the ideal choice to help provide nutrients for growth.

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Grass Forage and Mixed Forage

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Grass forages (timothy and orchard grass) or mixed (grass/alfalfa) forages are the best choice to feed to cows that are not due to calve until late in the spring. These cows have lower nutrient requirements in the winter since they are not yet in late pregnancy, when the bulk of fetal development occurs. Grass hay or mixed grass/alfalfa hay is also a great choice for growing cattle, including show cattle, that are being fed a grain concentrate fortified for growth. Finally, mature bulls are often fed the lower calorie grass hay during winter months to help control weight gain that can occur when bulls are not actively breeding.

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Transitioning to Spring Grass

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When spring grass finally arrives, the first reaction is to turn cattle out on pasture and quit feeding hay. Unfortunately, spring grass can contain an abundance of water and grass can be in short supply. This situation will result in cattle filling up on water without getting adequate fiber and nutrients. A solution to this issue, is to limit feeding grass hay (timothy or orchard grass) at a rate of 1% of body weight for approximately two weeks. This provides cattle with useable fiber and nutrients until the water content of the grass has decreased and the volume of grass has increased. If cattle are not supplemented with a small amount of forage during the early spring when pasture is just starting to grow, they will lose body condition and may have trouble getting pregnant. In the case of growing cattle, they may go through a period of time when they will not grow properly.

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If you have questions, please contact the nutritionists at Standlee Premium Western Forage, or consult with your veterinarian.

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By Dr. Stephen Duren
\nStandlee Nutritional Expert - Performance Horse Nutrition

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