Adding long-stemmed hay to a total mixed ration (TMR) increases physically-effective fiber levels in the diet. However, adding hay can present a challenge. David Kammel, extension agricultural engineer at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, suggests these tips for incorporating hay into a TMR:

1. Determine the amount of hay your mixer can handle. Most mixers can handle 10 percent to 20 percent by weight or volume of the forage as hay. Several auger mixers and vertical mixers can handle up to 100 percent of the forage as hay.

2. Process the hay - reduce the particle size by grinding it into 3-inch pieces - by using the mixer if it is designed to do so. Or, process the hay with a hay processor, such as a bedding chopper for small quantities or a large bale grinder for large round bales, prior to adding it to the TMR mixer.

3. Place the hay in the mixer and process it for a length of time recommended by the manufacturer.