Having the option to chop your hay with your baler is a big deal. Why do you want chopped hay? We’ve listed the top 4 reasons that chopped hay can help you and your herd.
1. Chopped hay creates less waste. Cows don’t have to work as hard to get chopped hay out of the bale, thus not as much gets stepped on and wasted. In an article by the Western Producer, a University of Wisconsin forage specialist estimated that “feed losses associated with shorter pieces of hay are five to 10 percent less than those for standard forage lengths because less hay winds up on the ground.”
2. Chopped hay is digested easier. Chopped hay is digested easier and nutrients are gained in a shorter period of time, due to the surface area of bacteria in the cows stomach. Drovers online explains it like this, “Anything that decreases the particle size of forages also increases the surface area for the bacteria to attach, and this speeds up the rate of digestion, allowing the animal to get more nutrients in a shorter time.” One of our customers who bought a McHale V660 chopper baler from us said he found 20% better consumption from his cows with his bales being chopped, versus long stem hay he had used in the past.
3. Your cows will subsequently gain weight faster. This is an obvious one, but based on the last point- if the cow is digesting the hay easier and more nutrients are gained in a shorter period, they will gain weight faster than if the hay wasn’t chopped. From the Ohio State University Beef Cattle Newsletter states “I came to realize the potential of hay chopping from an observation I made two years ago at the OARDC Beef Center in Wooster. Steers fed a chopped hay based diet gained 2.5 lbs/day while those fed round baled hay (same hay source) in a rack gained less than 1.5 lbs/day.”
4. It makes other processes easier. If you use a TMR mixer, chopping your hay will only speed up your process of mixing since it is already chopped up. This will save you time as your mix will complete faster and you can move on to feeding!