Beef producers: improve forage quality and feed less hay

By Tom Lollis

haybaleSouth Carolina beef producers need to improve forage quality and let the cattle harvest it instead of feeding hay. That was the message at the Edisto Research and Education Center’s fall field day in September.

“Studies indicate that the average cattleman feeds hay around 130 days a year,” said John Andrae, Clemson University forage specialist. “Most producers can cut this to 60 days and excellent managers to 30-35 days.” He recommended growing cool and warm-season perennials, overseeding bermudagrass with winter annual grasses and legumes, and planting alternative forages such as chicory.

He also urged producers to take better care of the hay they bale. Twenty-five to 30 percent of hay stored on the ground rots. Net wraps offer better protection than twine and barn storage is best for preserving quality.

Other research presentations covered peanuts, soybeans, cotton, watermelon, pumpkin and precision agriculture, as well as the Forage Bull Test and the Beef Cattle Integrated Resource Management project. A record of more than 400 farmers attended the event.

For information: John Andrae, 864-656-3504,