If you are asking yourself how many pounds of hay your cows are eating each day, you are asking yourself the wrong question. You should be asking how much hay your cows are wasting every day.
Hay waste includes things like parts of bales that spoil while stored, dropped on its way to the feeder and unused while feeding. To ensure your cows are getting the necessary nutrition through feed, then, an emphasis must be placed of feed efficiency.
While no feed system eliminates all waste, especially since cows are known for wasting feed, there is one method that researchers point to as the best way to minimize feed waste. That method is the round hay baler. This is true whether you are feeding on a daily or weekly basis.
Researchers confirm what we at The Hay Manager have known for a long time. The type of feeder matters, and round bale feeders cut waste significantly. When compared to using no feeder at all, such feeders cut waste by 80 percent. If you feed cows daily, it is important that you use enough feeders so that each cow can eat all at once. If you feed only once or twice a week, you will need larger round bale feeders since you will need to use more feed at a time.
How much you spend buying or producing hay is a relatively constant endeavor. What is not a constant is how much your cows eat and how much they waste. With some feeding methods resulting in up to 40 percent or more of waste, it is easy to see how you can be out tons of hay. This can mean up to $100 in wasted feed per cow, per season. No matter how well your operation is doing, this is unacceptable. And even if you can afford to absorb these losses, why would you? It would make as much sense to let your cows trample dollar bills under their hooves.
It takes a lot of effort to produce and store quality hay so that your cows can thrive. Hay must be harvested at just the right stage of growth and in the proper weather conditions. Storing hay correctly also is an important task to keep it from getting damp and losing nutrients. With all you do to provide your cows outstanding hay, why would you not take equal care in preventing hay loss?