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Virginia Cooperative Extension - Knowledge for the CommonWealth

Do you know the value of your homegrown forages?

Dairy Pipeline: February 2006

Tina Horn
Dairy Extension Agent
Augusta County
(540) 245-5750

Can you afford not to know? Knowing the value of your forages is important whether you are selling or feeding. Standard values are useful, but for those of you who pride yourself with your forage management... Don't you think your forages are a little better than average? Another point to consider is that different growing seasons produce different characteristics in our forages. How many years in the last five to ten have been normal or average? Knowing the values of your forages allows you to better market what is to be sold; more efficiently feed what is to be utilized on-farm, and helps you to decide which varieties or species to plant the next year. Regular forage testing allows you to formulate rations that are the most economical while also being nutritionally balanced.

Yield records are also a useful management tool. They can be used to determine if additional forages will be needed to get you through or if you have enough that you can sell or alter you plans for the remaining acreage. Yield records can also help you to fine tune your nutrient management plan to make better use of you inputs. Forage testing and yield records are useful tools and a combination of the two can greatly enhance your ability to manage your forage program and produce feeds that will allow you to better meet your goals no matter what they are.

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