What is the Effect of Rain Damage on Hay?

What is the Effect of Rain Damage on Hay?
7/5/2017

Rainfall right after cutting usually results in less leaching of nutrients and a quick splash-and-dash shower normally doesn’t result in large losses of these nutrients on freshly cut hay. Hay must reach moisture content of less than 30 percent for respiration to be reduced to acceptable levels. Hay that is rained on when relatively green will continue to respire for longer periods of time, resulting in the loss of forage nutrients and dry matter yield.

What are the consequences of hay being rained on? Research conducted at the University of Kentucky indicated that we can lose up to 5 percent of the dry matter per inch of rain on cut hay. Digestibility can be reduced by 10 percent or more due to leaching of nutrients and leaf shatter. A similar study done at Iowa State University reported protein loses of 3 percent and total digestible nutrient reduction of 4.6 percent.

One fact seems to hold true, you still cannot tell what the actual quality of the hay is until you have it tested. Testing it is your best strategy for determining the nutrient quality you will get from the hay. To read the full article in Dairy Herd Management, click here.

Tags: Forages