Spring is on the way, but we need to take stock of the forage supply now.

Providing adequate inventory to extend the hay or hay crop silage until the spring harvest may help to maintain milk yield and hold feed costs down, points out Maurice Eastridge, professor and extension dairy specialist at Ohio State University. The forage supply can be extended by minimizing storage and feeding losses, adjusting forage levels in diets, or culling some undesirable cows, he says.

Here are some good reminders for your farm clients:

  • Estimate amount of hay or hay crop silage needed until harvest time (be conservative in case of delayed harvest due to weather). Make sure you have factored in about 30 days of fermentation before feeding.
  • Given the high grain prices at this time and if the corn silage inventory is adequate, it is advisable to feed more corn silage than just increase the concentration of grain in the ration.
  • If you are getting near the bottom of upright silos, make sure you are staying abreast of the dry matter and quality. The changing moisture in the bottom of the silo may require more frequent dry matter analyses. Also, the higher moisture may have lead to some undesirable fermentation, thus the forage may need to be diluted in the ration to minimize effects on dry matter intake.
  • If you are transitioning to a different cutting or forage species, make sure you have a forage analysis completed and the ration is reformulated before the ingredients are changed.
  • With multiple silos, make sure feedout is on schedule for having space for the newly harvested forage in the spring.