2014 Midwest haylage quality slumping, variable

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The summer of 2014 is going down in the books as an interesting one, including the volatile haylage season. In some cases, this year’s crop started under intense rainfall – making harvest difficult at the ideal plant maturity. Dryer conditions in July followed, but what are the impacts on forage quality?

“Since samples started arriving at our lab in mid-May, we've seen overall decreased haylage quality as compared to both 2012 and 2013 crop years, although variability remains high,” explained John Goeser, Animal Nutrition Director for Rock River Laboratory.  “On average, we’re seeing less fiber, meaning higher Relative Feed Value (RFV), and more protein packed into the silos, which typically would suggest better forage quality.”

However, Goeser cautioned that the RFV could fool producers this year. While some people are reporting better quality, the averages seen in the laboratory show an overall poor quality trend. Relative Feed Quality (RFQ), which is a better measurement of forage quality than RFV, dropped in 2014.  Even more disappointing is the marked quality decrease shown through Total Tract NDF Digestibility (TTNDFD) analysis – a tool that describes digestion better in relation to the cow than RFQ.

TTNDFD builds upon NDFD, RFQ and RFV by combining quality components and offering a value for the fiber availability during its time in a high producing cow’s rumen. This tool can predict forage performance through the rumen with a dynamic and validated look.

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