4 Important Things To Know About Organic Hay

Thursday, September 29th, 2016
Field of grass and hay bales

The process of certifying organic quality hay can be slightly difficult, but producing this crop is a rewarding experience. The producer has to undergo a process that takes time, a lot of paperwork, and must meet inspection standards. This process ensures that the land, equipment, operations, and livestock feed produced are up to par. It is important to understand the differences between organic and regular hay and the requirements that are expected of organic feed producers. Farmers should also understand the nutritional facts about organic hay and the rising demand for this food source.

Differences between organic and regular hay

There are several differences between organic and non-organic practices in farming when it comes to hay. Organic farmers use a longer crop rotation and no synthetic chemicals or pesticides are added to the soil while harvesting the hay. Artificial nutrients are used for regular hay while organic crops are only allowed to be fertilized by real manure. Most farmers use chemicals to get rid of pests that consume their crops. Organic farmers do not use unnatural means of pest control, instead relying on a mix of biological means to rid their crops of insects. The farmers use beneficial insects, cover crops, and practice crop rotation as ways of warding off harmful pests.

Requirements to become certified

As mentioned above, hay producers that wish to become certified as organic must meet strict requirements. Farmers must keep records that track seeding, crop rotation history, planting, pest control, transportation, and production. Officials considering a farm’s organic status will scrutinize the storage facilities and fields, gather information, and insist on full compliance. Becoming certified requires farmers to transition their pasture, hay, and cropland as well as assist any of their own livestock in adapting to their new food source. Farmers cannot develop hay from genetically modified seeds and they cannot expose their crop to any radiation after it has been cut to meet USDA standards.

Nutritional facts

Feeding dairy cows a mix of organic hay and alfalfa has been shown to increase milk production. Oats, soybeans, barley, and corn are also big sellers when it comes to dairy cow feed. Alfalfa and clover are popular because they contain high protein legumes. It is possible for cattle to eat too much protein, resulting in a high level of milk urea nitrogen. This situation is why a varied diet, including a mix of hay, is critical.

The rising demand for organic hay

The demand for organic hay is about twenty percent greater than the available supply and many producers are having a tough time keeping up. These circumstances make it a great time to enter the organic feed industry. Production costs end up being lower than average, even when factoring unexpected costs and lower yields. Certified organic farmers can count on customers from organic dairy farms because they must maintain their integrity by feeding their animals certified hay. Feeding the cattle this high quality crop means better milk production and stronger livestock.

Transitioning into the organic industry can be challenging, but the results are healthier livestock and increased profits. If you would like to learn more about hay and feed for your livestock, contact SB Hay & Feed in Amarillo, Texas today. Call us at (800) 652-3036 or Contact Us by email for more information. You can also see the hay we have available to buy or sell your own!