“A mower conditioner can allow us to windrow that right in behind the crop as we’re cutting the crop and it’ll eliminate the need for going back and raking. The problem with doing that with hay is getting it to dry down. We want to avoid trying to rake the hay because of the stubble height, which will make it very difficult. So our objective is to try and let it cure out in the windrow. That will take a lot of time. Of course, if drought continues, drying weather will allow for that, but making hay out of that is a little more difficult.”

It’s important to use a conditioner not only because it will allow the producer to windrow the crop, but it also will break up the stems more and allow the moisture to evaporate from those stems more readily, notes Hancock.

A third option is to try and graze the crop, he says. This can be challenging, especially if you’re trying to move animals around.

“There are two key rules: never turn them in hungry, and don’t graze it so tightly that we remove the growth down to below 6 to 8 inches. In both of those cases, grazing animals can eat so much, that if you graze it too closely, it can increase the nitrate intake, and it can be such a high level of intake at one time, that we end up with a flush of nitrates getting into the animal’s system.”

The grazing preference for these animals as they go into the field is that they will take on ears and leaf material first, says Hancock. Then they’ll start with the tops of the plants and work their way down.

“One strategy we can think about is using a technique called frontal grazing. We begin at the far part of the field where we have water resources, and we begin to graze progressively away from the water resource. All we need to do then is move one hot wire or one fence further down the pasture. We don’t necessarily need to worry about a back fence in that case.”