What causes low protein in baleage?

Discussion in 'Cattle' started by JeffNY, Jul 8, 2006.

  1. JeffNY

    JeffNY Seeking Type

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    Got my forage analysis back, and the test showed good results, except for the protein. The protein was about 13%, and what boggles my mind is the fact they eat the stuff down to nothing. The quality is good, but the protein is low. From my experience, the low protein is a result to molding, overheating, it was rained on, or cut late. Thing is none of these occured. The hay was cut early on, it wasn't rained on, and the only mold I see is a very very tiny film on parts of some bales, but that is normal for baleage.


    The only thing I can think of is the way this spring has been. It was cold, it was wet as well. Plants typically need heat, and not as much rain to increase quality. Last year we had ideal conditions, it was hot, and wasn't as wet. The moisture levels in the bales are good too, about 50%, depending which field it is, but it is in the 40-55% range.


    Curious to what any of you think, considerng it was wrapped the same as any other forage, it wasn't rained on, wasn't cut late etc etc. The only other thing that might help is baleing it with more moisture, more towards the 55-58% level.


    Jeff
     
  2. Up North

    Up North KS dairy farmers

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    Hi Jeff- One thing we have learned from a Western hay grower who we buy some Alfalfa from is that these forage tests are not always reliable regarding protien & RFV measurements. He says he wil have 2 or 3 independent firms test same lots and see 4-5% variance in protien readings. So you may want to pull samples and get a 2nd opinion.
    Other than that, what percentage of actual plants in stands harvested are species capable of producing high protien? Grasses cut early 1st crop can be what's called "Water Grass" low in protien despite being lush, tender, and green.
    Just some ideas you may think on. Main thing is if animals eat it all well it will still produce lots of meat&milk, you may wish to adjust supplemental protien feeding from other sources. The cows will tell you what they need.
     

  3. bumpus

    bumpus Well-Known Member

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    What kind of hay is it ?
     
  4. JeffNY

    JeffNY Seeking Type

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    Some of it was orchard grass some alfalfa, some of it is alfalfa/timothy and some of it is alfalfa/orchard. (the Alfalfa/Timothy is 60/40 to 50/50, Alfalfa/Orchard is 50/50 or so, the orchard with some alfalfa is more like 70/30 or even 80/20).


    But that is interesting Up North, makes sence because the protein content tested is only as accurate as the test. Perhaps the tests weren't accurate for this particular feed because the proteins are concentrated. Such as haylage, which is concentrated, as it is chopped up, and packed. Baleage isn't compressed, it is long stem. I need to get one of those boreing tools so I can send my own samples out to a couple different places.


    Thanks!

    Jeff
     
  5. bumpus

    bumpus Well-Known Member

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    If your hay is cut in the mature stage:
    Your Orchard grass will be between 8-9 % protein.
    Your Alfalfa will be around 17 % protein.
    Timothy will be 8-9 % protein.

    But If you mix them 50/50 you will have:

    17% + 9% = 26 % protein

    26% / 2 = 13 % protein roughly about the same as your test.

    To much moisture and your hay will rot.


    bumpus
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  6. JeffNY

    JeffNY Seeking Type

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    Well its good to know it was the maturity, not the baleage. If only this summer wasn't as wet, could have all been done at the early stage.


    What is strange is the fact this stuff was baled at the same maturity as last year, perhaps this being a wet year, the forage quality was even lower due to the lack of sun.


    Jeff
     
  7. bumpus

    bumpus Well-Known Member

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    It can also depend on the quality of the ground which can change.
    You can take soil samples over your hay fields and see if it need anything.

    If you cut alfalfa in what is called the boot stage which is when the bloom flower is just starting the protein might be 21 % .

    But when you mix it with a lower protein grass the end result will be much lower.

    bumpus
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  8. Up North

    Up North KS dairy farmers

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    Bumpus is bumping you in the right direction,LOL. If it is high protein rocket fuel dairy hay you desire, first soil test & and balance soils, then create stands of 85-95% Legumes. Then cut every 30 days by calendar, irregardless of weather. Baleage option will give you an edge over dry hay in that regard.
    All falls in the easier said than done :) category, LOL.
     
  9. evermoor

    evermoor Well-Known Member

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    Generally plant maturity has a lot to do with it, then degradation from rain, raking, ect. We would always be the first to cut and try to make that rocket fuel, but the nutritionist said to wait ( which worked out for me) and instead of the upper 20's P and 200's RFV we got 120-140RFV and14-18% P. This blends well with the purchased rocket fuel, although they do leave more stems. The drawback was the baleage is in the 60-50% moisture and 4x5. So they are squishy, some are very smelly and have a heck of a time picking them up. Personally I would have rather chopped it and put it in a bag.
     
  10. JeffNY

    JeffNY Seeking Type

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    Squishy? Mine aren't squishy, of course the wrapper flips them on end so they don't squat.


    Either way I am hoping that I can get some baleage done this week IF I can find a monitor for the baler. My monitor decided to start shutting off by itself. Either way, the stuff I am targeting is 2nd cut alfalfa, very very little grass with this stuff if any in some fields. I was talking with someone on Sunday morning, and he said he used 3rd cutting clover baleage, and his animals loved it. I am wondering if baleage is better as a 2nd cutting and beyond, over 1st. Don't get me wrong, this stuff smells good, they do eat it.


    As far as bagging, not an option here, no bucket and I like the idea of parking the bale with the machine that grinds it under cover. So I can have a full bale inside, if it is cold or raining.


    Jeff