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Cattle eating hay in drought

Many producers are often forced to stretch hay supplies in order to make it through the winter feeding period. The following information is a reminder of the management strategies that can help farmers provide proper nutrition to their animals during the winter.

Farm Service Agency (FSA)

Farmers should sign up for the FSA Livestock Forage Disaster Program (LFP). During years of drought, there are often fewer hay supplies for farmers to feed their cattle during the winter. This program offers compensation to producers that have experienced forage losses due to drought. Payments are direct deposited after the application is completed and approved. Use this money to purchase hay and feed. For more information about the LFP, visit the USDA Farm Service Agency website, www.fsa.usda.gov/. Famers can also call the state FSA office at (334) 279-3500 for further information.

Determine Hay/Roughage and Supplemental Feed Needs

Farmers should take an inventory now to see how many days of feed they have on hand. The Alabama Cooperative Extension System animal sciences and forages regional agents can help with the process. Visit the Alabama Extension website, www.aces.edu/directory, to find the agent in your area. Find more information on alternative feeding strategies in the Extension Brief, Alternative Feeding Strategies for Beef Cattle.

Buy Necessary Hay/Roughage

The Alabama Department of Agriculture and Industries (ADAI) website has an Alabama Hay Listings web page. There, farmers can see several listings of hay for sale throughout the state. Each listing has detailed information on the location, hay type, number of bales, bale weight, and contact information of the seller. Some individuals selling hay offer delivery. If farmers need reliable trucking, they can contact the Alabama Trucking Association at 1-877-277-TRUK for a list of members in their area.

It is critical to have the hay quality tested to determine how much supplementation is required for livestock. Details on how to sample are located in the Alabama Extension publication, Collecting Forage Samples for Laboratory Analysis. Producer can find the necessary application form in the Extension Brief, Hay, Forage, and Feed Analysis.

Buy Necessary Supplement

Producers should conduct a forage analysis to determine the overall nutritional value, and then work with their Extension animal sciences and forages regional agent to develop an appropriate supplemental feeding plan. The Alabama Commodity Feed Contact List is an additional resource that can be used to locate feedstuffs.