By Jeremy Taylor, Georgia Farm Bureau
Georgia Farm Bureau (GFB) is calling all members who grow any variety of Bermudagrass hay to enter its annual hay contest. Hay entered in the 2023 GFB Quality Bermudagrass Hay Contest will be tested at the UGA Feed & Environmental Water Lab using the Relative Forage Quality (RFQ) Test, which provides an analysis of the nutritional value of the hay.
Winners will be determined by the RFQ analysis and announced in December at the GFB Convention. Prizes will be presented to the top five producers.
GFB’s annual hay contest encourages quality hay production, which leads to higher quality livestock and more return to Georgia hay producers. Producers who have their hay tested every year can see improvements they make in managing their hay fields by looking at multi-year analysis.
RFQ is the best method to compare forages. RFQ provides a number that gives producers a measure of the digestible nutrient content in their hay.
Fully mature alfalfa is given a base point of 100. Since the base price for hay sales and auctions in many parts of the world is the value of poor-quality alfalfa, RFQ provides a mechanism for indexing quality to value.
RFQ for Bermudagrass in Georgia typically ranges from 75 to 120 or higher. If a hay producer sells their hay based on its RFQ, a higher price can be demanded for the higher quality. Livestock producers are more likely to pay these premiums as this hay will yield higher weight gains and require fewer supplements.
With quality in mind, it is a good management practice to test your hay after baling. RFQ and other analytical data can help you manage potential problems with moisture, nitrates or poor digestibility, especially in years with adverse weather.
How to enter
Entry forms outlining complete contest rules may be picked up at your county Farm Bureau office or downloaded at www.gfb.ag/HayContest.
There is a $20 fee for each entry to cover the cost of the lab test. Producers may enter more than one sample. Checks should be made payable to Georgia Farm Bureau.
Contest participants will receive a detailed copy of their hay analysis and may choose to have a free listing in the ‘23/‘24 online GFB Hay Directory available at www.gfb.ag/hay. Producers must be a GFB member to enter the contest or list hay for sale in the hay directory. The deadline to enter contest is Oct. 31. The cost to list hay in the directory alone is $10 and may be submitted at any time.
Jeremy Taylor is an ag programs specialist in the GFB Public Policy Department. He may be reached at 478-474-0679, ext. 5212 or email@example.com .
The 2023 GFB Hay Contest winner will receive free use of a Vermeer mid-sized trailed mower for a year with the option to buy it at a reduced price. / Photo courtesy of Vermeer Manufacturing Corporation