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Stacking and Storing Hay for Winter

Winter is the time of the year when every farmer should make sure they have enough hay in their barns to last till the next spring. That being said, there are a lot of factors that go into calculating our winter hay needs. This is exactly what we’ll be enlightening you with. Here’s how you can simplify your hay stacking and storing process.

Factors to Consider for Your Winter Hay Needs

1. Length of the Winter Season

Simply put, you need to consider the number of months you will need your hay for. This varies according to locations such as animals foraging much later in fall and early in spring in farms situated in Southern US. Farmers in the northern areas, on the other hand, tend to be much more dependent on hay storage in order to keep their animals healthy during winter.

Places like Indiana are a great example where it may seem tempting to let animals forage earlier than later in the year. This is because the winter hay needs of such areas start in October and run on through till March. Even though this is the case, farmers should remember that foraging late or early can damage the pastures and may keep them from reaching their production peak during the growing seasons.

2. Temperature

In areas with extreme temperatures, animals require more calories in order to maintain their health. If the location of your farm is prone to some never-ending cold spells where the temperatures are way below zero, then you will definitely need larger hay storages.

3. Number of Animals

This consideration is quite simple and goes without saying. The more animals you have on your farm – the more hay they will need. Other than this, it is important to consider any extra animals you intend on purchasing during the winter time or how many animal births are expected in this period.

4. Animal Performances

Lactating or gestating animals will definitely need higher qualities and more amounts of hay in winter for their offspring and milk production. Other than them, field animals also need higher levels of calories as opposed to non-working ones. Lastly, animals that are growing have been known to require exponentially increasing amounts of winter hay.

Percentage of Body Weight Eaten Per Day

The following table is a general rule of thumb for the hay consumption of general livestock:

Livestock% Of Body Weight for Hay
Beef Steer1%
Horse2%
Sheep2%
Goat2%
Alpaca3%
Cow3%

Now that you know all about the important considerations for your winter hay needs, you can make the best decisions for your cattle. If you need any further pointers on your winter hay needs, we can help you out. Go ahead and visit our website for more about cattle and farm management.