Mark Z. Johnson, Oklahoma State University Extension Beef Cattle Breeding Specialist
Winter is coming and hay inventories are low. Given the current situation it can come as a relief to just find hay to purchase. In 2022 many of us in Oklahoma find ourselves making hay purchases from out of state that are not the typical harvested forages we use in Oklahoma. Regardless of the hay source you are considering, ask the following questions and consider the following before making purchases:
- Ask for a FEED ANALYSIS REPORT of the hay before you agree to buy and consider the moisture, protein, energy and relative feed value of what you are purchasing. Also consider the nitrate levels if you are purchasing sorghum hay.
- Purchase by the ton, not by the bale. In a drought year like 2022, there will be hay on the market from roadsides and abandoned fields. Some bales of low density depending on baler settings. In order to get what you are paying for base purchases on tonnage. All hay bales are not of equal weight or quality.
- Ask how the hay has been stored. In a barn = less spoilage, stacked in rows on pallets is better than stacked on the ground.
- Ask what type of wrap is on bales. Net wrap results in less spoilage than twine wrap.
- Ask when the hay was baled. Bales harvested a year or two ago are more subject to spoilage.
- Ask where hay is located. Hay can’t be moved in from fire ant endemic areas (https://ag.ok.govplant-industry) without taking precautions to ensure there are no fire ants being transported to areas designated free of fire ants.