Date of this Version
This NebGuide discusses harvest factors that affect hay yield and quality as well as ways to reduce losses during harvest, storage, and feeding.
Hay is harvested, stored, and fed under a wide variety of conditions that influence both its yield and feed value. High quality hay is needed by animals that require high nutrient concentrations to reach desired levels of production. These include dairy cows, finishing beef cattle, fattening lambs, and race horses. Excellent hay management is required to produce the hay needed by these livestock. High quality hay is also used as a supplement to lower quality forages, such as crop residues. Hay of lower quality is nutritionally valuable, but should be used in other livestock production systems, such as the wintering of beef cows.