Submitted to: Hoard's Dairyman
Publication Type: Trade Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: March 24, 2006
Publication Date: May 24, 2006
Citation: Rotz, C.A. 2006. Poor harvests can steal your alfalfa. Hoard's Dairyman. 151(5):359. Interpretive Summary: An interpretive summary is not required.
Technical Abstract: Producing high-quality hay and silage is a challenge, particularly in temperate climates. It takes many steps to harvest forage – mowing, field curing, baling or chopping, storage, and feeding, with losses occurring in each step. Although some loss is inevitable, good practices can reduce or compensate for these losses to provide the quality forage needed for each animal group. Harvest-related dry matter losses range from a best of 10% to over 40 percent if everything goes poorly. Of course with severe rain damage, the whole crop can be lost. Harvest losses are caused by plant respiration, rain, and mechanical damage by equipment. All of these losses, but especially respiration and rain damage, reduce the concentrations of digestible nutrients and increase the fiber content in the remaining forage.