Critical to count your hay bales this fall

By Gary Sliworsky
Ag rep, Emo

Each year producers are reminded to take count of their hay bales.
This year it may be more critical.
On top of the low cattle price situation possibly causing you to carry more animals than you intended, hay yields appear to be well below normal in most of the district.
Normally you should have a rough idea even before baling starts as to what your hay needs will be for the coming winter. Again, this rough idea may have had to be revised this year.
As the first and (maybe) second cuts of hay were harvested, you saw how the yields compared to the winter feeding requirements for the herd.
As a reminder, here are a few quick steps to calculate the amount of hay you will need to get your herd through the coming winter:
Take a count of your beef cows, bulls, and heifers. The rule of thumb is that cows and bulls will require 40 pounds of hay per day and heifers 20 pounds per day.
The number of days to be fed generally used is 200.
Multiply the number of cows by 40 pounds then by 200 days to get the total pounds of hay required by the cows. As an example, for 27 cows, that works out to 216,000 pounds (27 cows x 40 x 200).
Multiply the number of bulls by 40 pounds, then by 200 days, to get the total pounds of hay required by the bulls. And multiply the number of heifers by 20 pounds, then by 200 days, to get the total pounds of hay required by the heifers.
Add up the total pounds of hay required by the cows, bulls, and heifers. Then divide it by the number of pounds in the size of the bale you are harvesting on your farm.
This will give you the number of bales that are needed to feed your herd through the winter.
With conditions the way they were this year, in most cases it is not a matter of having an overabundance of hay. If you know that your farm will not, or did not, produce the amount of hay that you require, and you haven’t already, look into purchasing your hay needs as soon as possible.
Conditions in nearby Manitoba were similar to ours this year, so you may have to look farther to find affordable hay.
On the other hand, if you happen to have an overabundance of hay, now is the time to decide whether you want to keep your calves over or try to sell your excess hay.
The current situation with very low cattle prices doesn’t make this a particularly easy decision.
Dates to remember
•Nov. 7–Rainy River Federation of Agriculture annual meeting, Barwick Hall (cocktails at 6 p.m., dinner at 7).

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