Why Timothy Hay Is Good For Dairy And Beef Cattle

Tuesday, March 8th, 2016

There are many reasons why Timothy hay is good for both dairy and beef cattle. Timothy hay is easily digested by both types of herds and contains a high amount of fiber and energy content. A beef herd fed a diet of Timothy hay will produce meat with enhanced flavor. Timothy also potentially prevents milk fever in dairy cows. The nutritional benefits of this food make it a great choice for cattle and it is important to understand Timothy hay when feeding it you your animals.

Timothy hay at a glance

Timothy hay grows best on nutrient rich pastures and bottomlands with plenty of moisture. This product does not do well in dry conditions and is highly susceptible to drought. When properly managed, Timothy hay yields between two to nine tons per acre. Typically, the first cutting of a field will yield approximately 70% of the nutritive value for the year. The high yield occurs because more rain accumulates during the spring than in other months. However, a particularly wet summer can yield results that are similar. The soil must be able to absorb the moisture as Timothy does not do well in soils where water simply collects at the surface.

Harvest of Timothy hay

The first crop is typically harvested in spring, during the late boot or early flowering stage. The harvesting is done at this time because digestibility decreases after this point. The harvest is either used for hay or silage. After this point, Timothy hay may be grazed at between four to six week intervals. However, grazing must be managed carefully as overgrazing and trampling reduce the nutritional value of the grass. For this reason, most farmers and ranchers will graze their fields sparingly in the spring and early summer seasons.

Nutritional value of Timothy hay

Timothy hay is high in fiber, has a high energy content, and is also easily digested by beef and dairy cattle. Timothy has a low moisture content, which helps protect against mold and rot, provided that it was harvested in dry conditions.

One disadvantage is that Timothy hay is low in protein. When used as food for dairy cattle, the product must be combined with higher protein feeds to make up for this deficiency. Timothy hay typically has between 2.9% and 5.5% digestible protein. This amount varies depending on whether the crop was cut before bloom, in early bloom, in full bloom, or in late seed. Regardless of when it is cut, the product often has less than .2% phosphorus, and .25% calcium.

Timothy hay prevents metabolic disorders within milking herds

Hypocalcemia, or milk fever, is a common problem that negatively impacts between 5% to 10% of every herd of cattle. Subclinical hypocalcemia can impact up to half a herd at any given time, but typically occurs right before or after calving. This condition makes it difficult for cattle to absorb calcium, so Timothy hay’s low-calcium, low-potassium content makes it ideal for dairy herds. To help prevent hypocalcemia, Timothy hay is typically added to the cow’s diet 3 to 4 weeks before calving is to occur. The timing helps reduce potassium concentrations within the bloodstream and has a considerable effect on the animal’s health.

Timothy hay enhances beef flavor

Including this product within a beef herd’s diet has a positive impact on the meat that is eaten by humans. Timothy fed beef cows are typically low in fat, with tender muscle, and are ideally suited for consumer tastes, which can enhance the cattle’s market value. However, most cattle will not eat a diet consisting solely of Timothy hay. For this reason, it is often mixed with alfalfa to create a palatable balance within the cattle’s diet.

For more information on Timothy hay, Contact SB Hay & Feed in Amarillo, Texas by calling (800) 652-3036. You can also Contact Us by email to learn more. We will be happy to help you select the right hay for your herd’s needs. Whether you are raising cattle, horses, sheep, or pigs, we have the knowledge and supply to keep your herd happy and healthy. Don’t forget to view the hay we have available to buy, or sell your own!