– Dr. Andrew Griffith, Assistant Professor, Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics, University of Tennessee

One of the greatest debates in the cattle industry may revolve around the hay industry since most cattle operations utilize hay at some point through the year. The crux of the debate is quality versus quantity.

In Tennessee, cool season grasses are the primary forage for most operations, and forage species such as tall fescue have already started to produce a seed head which means the quality of the forage is starting to decline. There is a balance between quality and quantity and what individual operations need from a quality standpoint may differ based on breeding season or the need to grow cattle through the winter months.

It is fairly easy for producers with a short calving season to determine the quality of hay needed, but it is much more difficult for those with year round calving as lactating cows will need higher quality hay than dry cows.