Hay day has arrived for dairy producers here in southeastern Manitoba. John McGregor has been testing the relative feed value of alfalfa under the Green Gold program run by the Manitoba Forage and Grassland Council. He says alfalfa has been progressing rapidly the past two weeks and the time has come for the first cut for those producers who want to bale top quality dairy hay.
"They're going to be looking at this Friday or Saturday as ideal for them. The fellas that are cutting it for silage, it doesn't stay in the field very long, normally it's cut in the morning, allowed to wilt and then it's picked up and put into the silage piles the same day. So they could be looking at Saturday or Sunday as the optimum time for picking up their alfalfa."
McGregor says, because of the rain in the forecast, it could be early next week before alfalfa growers can get on their fields and by then the feed value will have dropped a bit.
"If this weather pattern finished up over the weekend and the fellas get out there on Monday or Tuesday, their going to be looking at feed that's probably in that 130 range. That's a relative guess but what that would mean is that it would be fairly good heifer hay, it would be very good dry cow hay so it's excellent still for the dairy industry, it's just not that high protein that the milk cows like to have."
McGregor adds top quality dairy hay has a relative feed value of 150 which means the crop has attained a height of 20 to 24 inches with protein levels in the range of 27 per cent.