Whether we realize it or not, feeding hay is work. We will sometimes take shortcuts that can result in leaving behind some twine or net wrap on the bales. This can result in some of the animals eating the net wrap or twine. This causes a potential for the twine to build up in the rumen of cattle and causes obstruction. North Dakota State University has confirmed this risk through research and has provided more information on what happens to twine when cattle consume it.
In a series of experiments, North Dakota State University showed neither plastic net wrap nor biodegradable twine is digested by rumen microbes. Although the old-fashioned sisal twine does get digested but digest slower than hay. In another study, the net wrap was included in the feed ration to steers for an extended time. 14 days before the steers were harvested, the net wrap was removed from the feed to see if the net wrap eaten earlier was cleared out of the rumen and digestive system. The results had shown the net wrap was still in the rumen after 14 days.
Next time you feed hay think about shortcuts and work-reducing actions you take this winter might affect your animals. Make sure to act accordingly.
Did you know all hay is not created as equal? The two major values we judge hay quality on are protein and energy, which both vary from year to year and between crops. Protein values in hay tests are typically reported as percent Crude Protein (CP). This measures the nitrogen portion of the hay. This protein is important for rumen microbes and is also important for animal maintenance and growth.
When looking at hay energy values a common measure used is Total Digestible Nutrients. TDN s the sum of the digestible fiber, protein, lipid, and carbohydrate components of a feedstuff. Knowing TDN is useful especially in diets that are primarily foraging. Although, without consideration, some diets may be lacking energy as much or more than crude protein. Low energy diet9s) can be just as impactful to animal conditions and performance as those lacking in protein. With this information, we can feed lower quality hay to dry cows and save high-quality hay for pets at peak lactation or growing animals. This in turn can ensure animals are fed properly while also helping control feed costs.