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State's hay directory helps drought-affected producers
STARKVILLE, Miss. -- Adequate forage for livestock is becoming a concern for Mississippi producers as drought conditions persist, but alternative hay sources and feeding options can compensate for shortages.
The Mississippi Hay Directory helps livestock producers locate hay supplies. The directory is updated each time a new entry is submitted, and listings expire after 60 days.
Mississippi State University Extension Service forage specialist Rocky Lemus said the lack of forage production due to dry conditions has forced producers to begin feeding hay to livestock earlier than normal. Forage shortages are expected in Mississippi and in adjacent states suffering from the drought.
Hay harvested during drought conditions may not contain enough nutrients. Producers can have their hay tested for quality at the Mississippi State Chemical Laboratory.
“Producers need to start putting in place a hay inventory plan that could help them determine the amount of hay needed. If buying hay, make sure the hay being purchased is at least analyzed for quality parameters,” Lemus said. “Many of our grasses are weakened by drought caused by the lack of growth and level of stored sugars in the root system. Under dry conditions, it is important not to graze pasture too short and allow the plants to store sugars to survive the winter.”
The Mississippi Hay Directory is available online at https://extension.msstate.edu/content/mississippi-hay-directory. Forage samples for quality analysis can be submitted to the Mississippi State Chemical Laboratory at http://www.mscl.msstate.edu/pdf/forage_analysis.pdf.