With the drought of 2012, some dairies may look to alternative roughage sources, such as crop residues, says Shane Gadberry, PhD, University of Arkanasas. Crop residues will often be lower in protein and energy compared to average quality Arkansas hay.

Use of these residues will be limited to avoid negatively affecting milk production. The limited inclusion rate may result in these alternative roughage sources being difficult to store and blend.

More importantly, crops are treated with pesticides, and some pesticides state on the label “do not feed to livestock” or something similar. Other labels may have a time restriction between application and haying or grazing.

It is important to visit with the farmer offering the crop residue to find out chemical applications and use restrictions.

Read more in the latest issue of the Dairy E-News here.