The program helps farmers be strategic with their alfalfa hay crop harvest
By Diego Flammini
A Manitoba ag industry group is looking for producers to sign up for a free program.
The Manitoba Forage & Grassland Association (MFGA) wants more farmers to participate in its Green Gold Program.
“The more farmers we have in the program, the better the information available to other farmers,” Lawrence Knockaert, chair of the MFGA and a dairy farmer from Bruxelles, Man., told Farms.com. “We aim for about five or six people in each area.”
The program, which has been ongoing for about 25 years, uses alfalfa hay samples to help farmers be strategic with their alfalfa hay crop harvest.
Once alfalfa is about 10-inches tall, farmers take two samples per week in May and June and send those in for testing. Producers will receive the results of the analysis with a special focus on the relative feed values (RFV).
Included in the report is samples from other communities to give farmers an idea of how alfalfa hay in other parts of the province is faring compared to their own.
RFV estimates intake and digestibility, and scores of 100 are used as a baseline, the Beef Cattle Research Council says.
Optimum quality is a RFV of 150, MFGA says.
Values below 80 “normally will not meet animal requirements for energy,” the BCRC says.
“When we get the samples back the RFV is usually in the high 200s and it tells you how many points the quality is dropping per day,” he said. “Having this information allows you to predict pretty close to the cut of hay you want for your cattle.”
Knockaert has been involved with the program since its inception.
Receiving the sample information have provided his farm and livestock with multiple benefits.
“When you know your protein and feed value is up, you don’t need to add more protein, so you have money that way,” he said. “And you get better milk production from your dairy cows.”