With the USDA recently announcing that August 2 is the opening of Conservation Reserve Program ground in all Iowa counties for emergency haying and grazing for certain practices, farmers may be wondering whether to use their CRP land for those purposes. The Iowa Beef Center at Iowa State University is offering a new spreadsheet you can use that estimates hay cost per bale or ton and grazing cost per day for CRP forage.
"CRP pasture and hay won't be high quality, but it can be used to extend other feed resources and help reduce pressure on other pasture and hay acres," points out ISU Extension and Outreach beef program specialist Joe Sellers, who helped develop the spreadsheet.
"The actual yield and quality of CRP tracts will vary," he notes. "But in surveys conducted in past years, the average nutrient content has been 9.7% crude protein and 50.9% TDN or total digestible nutrients," Sellers says.
Estimate hay cost per bale or ton and grazing cost per day for CRP forage
The spreadsheet calculates the forage cost per bale or ton of hay and the cost per grazing day, by accounting for the cost of 10% of lost CRP payment, the anticipated harvest cost and yields, he says. This tool will be useful in evaluating CRP as a feed alternative for cow-calf producers with short pastures and limited hay availability.
IBC staff member Garland Dahlke worked with Sellers to create the CRPhay2012 spreadsheet, which is available at no charge from the IBC website.
For assistance balancing beef cow diets with low quality hay, producers should contact their local ISU Extension beef program specialist. Those producers who are interested in using CRP ground for haying or grazing must follow USDA Farm Service Agency rules and should direct all questions about CRP availability and the request process to their local FSA office. Permission is required from your local FSA office before you can make hay from CRP acres or graze CRP acres, notes Sellers.