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I've heard that forage cut in afternoon often has higher quality then forage cut the next morning. What is meant by afternoon? Quality of growing forge increases through out the day beginning at about 1 hour after sunrise and continuing until 1 hour before sunset. The opportunity window for cutting is centered on this 1-hour before sunset. for example: sunset is at 9pm and I must cut for 6 hours. So I start at 5pm and continue after sunset until 11pm to get the best hay.
What can I do if I must cut around the clock? For 9pm sunset; stack cuttings of more-sweet hay cut between 2pm and 2am separately from the less-sweet hay that is cut between 2am and 2pm. One may find a 15-20% quality difference between sugar levels in the two hays.
Can animals really tell the difference between hay that is cut in afternoon from that cut in morning? Animals, can often sense a hay that has only 0.5% more sugar than another hay. But sensitivity varies among animals.
Do cattle and sheep eat more of the sweeter PM-cut hay than that cut in the morning? Yes, animals may eat more of the afternoon cut hay and do so more quickly.
Does eating the afternoon-cut hay result in more milk production? Present studies show that dairy cows may eat more of the PM-cut hay and produce more milk.