As my summer extension service internship comes to a close, I would first like to start off by saying “thank you” to everyone who participated and assisted me in anyway with this project.

Secondly, I would like to share with you the results of my fieldwork from visits on 30 Madison County farms. I used a set of portable scales to check the weight of the producers hay, sampling three bales per lot. I then used a hay probe to extract a forage sample. Also, I took soil samples from the fields that the hay came out of.

The reason behind taking bale weights in this project is to give an idea of the weight of individual hay bales. Forage testing helps you understand hay-testing techniques and forage quality. In addition I also calculated the pounds of nutrients such as nitrogen, potassium and phosphorus that are being removed from the soil per bale.

By calculating the nutrients being removed, we can calculate the amount of dollars in nitrogen, potash and potassium per bale that the producer has invested. This allows you to determine a base price to receive for your product if planning to sell hay.

This calculation only considers the nutrient replacement cost; it does not take into account other expenses that are associated with producing hay such as fuel, machinery costs, labor, twine or net wrap and what else is involved. 

Overall, my goal has been to inform producers about the forage they’re producing and encourage them to become proactive in increasing their land productivity and also to educate them on the importance of soil and crop management to achieve optimum quality and yields.

 A summary of the average bale weights and nutrient replacement cost per bale that we derived from our research are displayed in the accompanying table for cool season grass hay.

Each time producers harvest hay they are removing nutrients out of the soil. Over time these nutrients will become depleted and need to be replenished. Soil testing is one of the most important farm management practices.

One take home message from this on-farm study is that, as a producer, you should test your hay to see if supplemental energy or protein is needed for your cattle to perform to your expectations. If further research information is desired you can contact us at the number listed below.

Producers will want to follow fertilizer recommendations for replacing the lost nutrients found in UK extension publication AGR 1: Lime and Nutrient Recommendations.

It is available online at

agc/pubs/agr/agr1/agr1.pdf or at the Madison County Extension office of the University of Kentucky Cooperative Extension Service, 859-623-4072.

Educational programs of the University of Kentucky Cooperative Extension Service serve all people regardless of race, color, age, sex, religion, disability or national origin.

React to this story:


Recommended for you