Choosing the Right Hay for Your Livestock
Are you a current farm owner or interested in investing in farm land for sale in Florida? If you plan to raise livestock on your land for profit, it’s important to nourish your livestock properly for maximum profitability. Proper nutrition for common livestock such as cattle, sheep, goats, and horses is vital. We’ll give you an overview of common hay options for your livestock.
Types of Hay
Hay will fit into four categories: grass, legume, a mixture of grass and legume, and cereal grain straw. In Florida, the following types of hay are grown:
- Alfalfa legume hay is easy to digest & high in protein, energy, vitamins & minerals. Alfalfa is popular grass for horses
- Bermuda grass hay is palatable, but may cause impaction in horses if it’s low quality
- Clover legume hay provides a balance of protein, energy, and fiber, but may be more prone to mold
- Timothy grass hay is better for digestion because it’s higher in fiber with low calcium. Timothy is another popular grass for horses
- Oat is a bulky and robust cereal grain, but lasts longer
Other grass hay options include:
- Bahiagrass (grass)
- Pangola (grass)
- Alicia (grass)
- Stargrass (grass)
- Peanut (legume)
- Rye Straw (grass)
Choose the diet that is right for the type of livestock you’re raising. What’s nutritionally sound for your horses, may not work for your cattle. For example, generally, cattle can tolerate a hay of lesser quality than horses. Younger animals need more protein. Pregnant animals need higher quality hay to avoid abortions. If you must switch an animal that normally eats legumes to grass or vice versa, make sure you make this change slowly. Failing to do so, can affect an animal’s digestive system.
Rain is good but can leave you with moldy hay. This means that moldy hay may be unavoidable at times. Feeding livestock moldy hay can lead to various health issues for livestock and farmers. Pregnant cows may experience abortion. Horses may experience respiratory or digestive issues. In addition to health risk for livestock, farmers that inhale moldy hay may contract farmer’s lung.
Choosing a Supplier
When purchasing Florida farm land for sale, be sure to treat your livestock with great care by selecting the appropriate hay for them. Healthy livestock leads to a return on your investment. The Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services lists reputable hay suppliers on their website.