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Read About Livestock Hay or Feed

Choosing between livestock hay or feed diets, or more likely choosing a combination of the two, depends on several different factors. First and foremost, of course, you need to consider the species of livestock. Cattle and swine have different nutritional needs and what is beneficial to one may not be as good for the other. You also need to consider the climate in which you are raising the livestock and whether or notImage that has an effect on the availability of fresh hay or the nutritional composition of it. Another important consideration is your purpose in raising the livestock. The focus of nutritional needs for beef cattle differ from those of cows kept as pets. Consider all of these issues when making decisions about livestock hay or feed.

Hay is often considered for use as bedding for livestock. Depending on the animal, this may or may not be a good choice. Horses and swine, for instance, are likely to eat even dirty hay that is intended for bedding rather than food. Better bedding options include sand covered in shavings, which will provide both drainage and comfort.

When feeding livestock hay, be sure it is green and fresh. The outside of the bales may be bleached by the sun to a light gold color, but the inside of the bale should be fresh-smelling and clean. If the entire bale is yellow and coarse, the hay was probably left too long in the field before being cut. While it is still safe to feed to your livestock, it is not as good a choice nutritionally as fresher hay would be. Hay that is brown, black, or musty smelling is not only poor livestock nutrition, but could actually be harmful to your animals.

Many different feeds are available for livestock. It is important to Imageconsider the particular nutritional needs of your animals, since young animals that are still growing have different nutritional needs than mature animals. Likewise, pregnant or lactating females have increased nutritional needs that must be met. Do not assume, however, that the “most nutritious” feed is appropriate for all of your livestock. What is ideal for growing animals may include too much protein, for example, for mature animals to comfortably digest. Be sure the feed you select is appropriate not only for the species, but for the animals’ stages of life as well.

Most of the time, choosing livestock hay or feed is not an 'either/or' decision. Rather, it is a matter of how much of each. Finding the right balance of livestock hay and feed is an important part of ensuring proper nutrition for your animals.