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MINOT, N.D. (KXNET) — Livestock producers in our state have been faced with low quantity and quality forage for the past few years as a result of the drought conditions.
Forage is plant material eaten by livestock.
This year, with more moisture from rain and snow, things are looking up for those who grow crops.
At the North Central Research Extension Center in Minot, Sorghum-sudangrass and winter oats are being harvested to feed cows.
The crops are harvested when a forage yield/quality compromise is reached.
Sorghum-sudangrass is harvested when it’s 36 to 48 inches in height, but oats are harvested at a different point.
“We want to cut them when prior to head emerges. So we still want to see the head down here beginning to emerge from the stem. At this point, they’re a little bit mature, but would still make a good, quality feed. The protein content in this would probably have dropped from its peak, but the energy content would be very good,” said James Rogers, the extension forage crops specialist.
The extension center is also testing how well the cool season oats and warm season grass grow together, and also, to see if the grass will grow again for a second harvest.
“The oats are predominately dominating the plot, but you can see some Sorghum-sudan coming up here as well. So hopefully we’ll get a cutting here of the mixture and the second cutting will be predominately Sorghum-sudan,” said Rogers.
Rogers says producers are telling him the extra moisture has helped their crop yields.
While the moisture is welcomed by growers all over the state, it does have an impact on the hay baling process.
“We’ve seen some hay tests come back in where the hay has gone through a little bit of a heat, and what that means is it was baled at a little bit too high moisture content, and the consequence from that is that some of the protein content of the hay becomes unavailable to the animal,” said Rogers.
Rogers says if producers would like to know the moisture content of their hay, they should contact their local extension office.
If the hay lacks protein content, then it will need to be supplemented in other ways for the livestock.