For 28 years, Georgia Farm Bureau has annually held its Quality Bermudagrass Hay Contest to recognize GFB members who grow outstanding hay. The GFB Hay Committee started the contest in 1992 to promote quality, Georgia-grown Bermudagrass hay. Higher quality hay leads to higher quality livestock, which means higher profits for Georgia farmers.
Why enter the contest?
A benefit of entering your hay in the GFB contest is it will be tested by the University of Georgia’s Feed & Environmental Water Lab. By entering the GFB Hay Contest, you receive the Relative Forage Quality (RFQ) of your hay.
It’s a good management practice to test your hay after baling. RFQ and other analytical data provided by a certified lab can help you manage potential problems with moisture, nitrates or poor digestibility, especially in years with adverse weather.
RFQ is the best method to compare forages. RFQ provides a number that gives hay producers an idea of how much digestible nutrients a hay sample may contain. Take a look at the chart below for an idea of the RFQ score various livestock classes need.
Farmers who have their hay tested every year can see the improvements they make in managing their hay fields by looking at multi-year analysis.
Contestants will receive a detailed copy of their RFQ hay analysis and may choose to have a free listing in the online 2019/20 GFB Hay Directory.
The top five winners will receive prizes. The grand prize winner of the 2019 contest will receive a year’s free use of a Vermeer TM1200 Trailed Mower with the option to purchase at a reduced price.
RFQ scores can set hay price
If a producer sells his hay based on its RFQ, he can ask a higher price for higher quality hay. Livestock owners are more likely to pay more for high quality hay since it will yield more gains and require feeding fewer supplements.
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 scores for Bermudagrass hay grown in Georgia typically ranges from 75 to 120 or higher.
The GFB Hay Contest is open to all GFB members to enter Bermudagrass hay. The deadline to enter is Oct. 31. Entry forms outlining all 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. Checks should be made payable to Georgia Farm Bureau.
Hay entered in the contest must have been grown in Georgia on a field with at least 25 days of maturity or regrowth. Samples should be naturally dried in the field and taken with a hay probe from the center of at least five different bales (rolls or squares) that come from the same field.
Producers may enter more than one sample and will receive RFQ analysis for all samples submitted. Contestants submitting multiple samples, however, may only place in the contest’s top five for the sample with the highest RFQ score.
Previous first-place winners are not eligible to win any prizes in the contest for three years after winning. Previous first-place winners may still enter their samples to have their hay analyzed.
Contest winners will be announced at the 2019 GFB Convention in December on Jekyll Island.
GFB accepting listings for hay directory
Farm Bureau members with hay for sale or offering custom harvesting or sprigging services are invited to list in the 2019/20 GFB Quality Hay Directory published on the GFB website. Because this directory is now offered exclusively online, hay can be listed or removed from the site according to your inventory.
To participate, please complete a submission form available at your county Farm Bureau office or online at www.gfb.ag/hay. Please send a $10 check made payable to Georgia Farm Bureau for each listing of hay, custom harvesting or custom sprigging. Hay producers who enter the GFB Quality Hay Contest receive a free listing in the GFB Hay Directory, if they so choose. Multiple listings are allowed.
Jeremy Taylor is an ag programs specialist in the GFB Public Policy Department. He may be reached at 478-474-0679, ext. 5212 or firstname.lastname@example.org .