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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Title: Using Simulated Rainfall Techniques to Evaluate Losses of Dry Matter and Changes in Quality for Rain-Damaged Hay Crops

Authors
item Scarbrough, Dean - UNIV. OF ARKANSAS
item Coblentz, Wayne - UNIV. OF ARKANSAS
item Humphry, J. Byron - UNIV. OF ARKANSAS
item Daniel, Tommy - UNIV. OF ARKANSAS
item Sauer, Thomas
item Coffey, Kenneth - UNIV. OF ARKANSAS
item Kellogg, D. Wayne - UNIV. OF ARKANSAS
item Turner, James - UNIV. OF ARKANSAS

Submitted to: Forage and Livestock Field Day Proceedings
Publication Type: Proceedings
Publication Acceptance Date: June 4, 2002
Publication Date: June 4, 2002
Citation: SCARBROUGH, D.A., COBLENTZ, W.K., HUMPHRY, J., DANIEL, T.C., SAUER, T.J., COFFEY, K.P., KELLOGG, D., TURNER, J.E. USING SIMULATED RAINFALL TECHNIQUES TO EVALUATE LOSSES OF DRY MATTER AND CHANGES IN QUALITY FOR RAIN-DAMAGED HAY CROPS. FORAGE AND LIVESTOCK FIELD DAY PROCEEDINGS. 2002. P. E1-E6.

Interpretive Summary: Forages are grasses or other plants that are either grazed by animals or harvested to be fed to animals like cattle and horses. One harvesting technique is referred to as haying. Haying involves cutting the forage, letting it dry, and then collecting it, usually in round or rectangular bales, for transport and storage. The hay needs to dry before it is put into bales or it will mold in storage. If it rains before the hay is dry enough to bale, some of the fiber and nutrients in the hay are washed out. A study was completed where orchardgrass hay was exposed to simulated rainfall and the changes in the quality of the hay measured. The results indicated that significant changes in the yield and quality of the hay occurred due to damage by the rainfall. This research is important to producers as it shows that it is important to schedule haying operations to avoid rainfall, and that hay that has been damaged by rainfall will not be as good for livestock as hay that was not exposed to rainfall.

Technical Abstract: The harvest, storage, and cash sale of cool-season forage hay crops are large components of the cattle and horse industries in northwest Arkansas. Prevailing weather conditions throughout much of this region include high relative humidity and a high probability of rainfall events during considerable portions of the time these forages are actively growing, thereby prolonging the time period associated with field curing of hay before baling. A series of experiments were initiated at the University of Arkansas to investigate the effects of rainfall amount and initial concentration of moisture on losses of dry matter (DM) and changes in quality of orchardgrass hay during the wilting period using simulated rainfall techniques. Reductions in yield and quality of forages occurred due to damage by rainfall during the wilting period. Estimates of dry matter loss using neutral detergent fiber as a marker followed an increasing trend as rainfall amounts increased. The results may provide a better technique for estimating dry matter loss and reductions in forage quality as a result of hay damage to wilting forage crops.

Last Modified: 10/21/2014
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