With many producers reporting lower hay yields this year, some will need to find creative ways to stretch out their hay supplies. 

Sarah Sommerfeld, Regional Forage Specialist for the Ministry of Agriculture, said there are a few options producers can look to. 

"Producers may look to using annual forages," Sommerfeld said. "so that would have been potentially making the decision back in August or September to harvest an annual cereal crop for green-feed, as opposed to taking the crop for grain."

She said in those cases, the crops used for green-feed would likely be barley, oats or wheat. 

Another option, according to Sommerfeld, is salvaging grain crops impacted by this year's dry conditions or hail.

"So in those cases, (producers) can look at harvesting any kind of crop really that's been damaged, and essentially using that and feeding that as a green-feed crop for late fall or early winter feeding time."

Crop residue grazing is another method producers can use to stretch their hay supplies, Sommerfeld said. "After that crop has been combined, turning the cattle out on that annual crop land and grazing straw and chaff that's available out there."

She said producers that try this method can bunch the straw and chaff into piles in the field, to make the operation more economical from a grazing perspective. She also added producers in this situation would need to consider water sources, fencing and shelter for their livestock.

The last method Sommerfeld detailed was supplemental feeding.

"Whether that's with hay carry-over inventory from the previous year, or some salvage grain crops, just supplementing the cow herd while they're out on their summer grazing pastures, to sort of take the pressure off some of that pasture while it's still growing while the animals are out there."

She said moving animals to fall grazing fields earlier than usual could also help, as well as moving to a late fall or winter feeding regime earlier than expected. 

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