Oregon's forage helps fill bellies of valuable livestock

baling hay
More acres of forage are planted in Oregon than any other crop. (Photo: Bob Rost)

Oregon hay was worth $635 million in 2013

Cows and other livestock have voracious appetites, which is part of the reason why forages—irrigated hay and pasture grasses—are the No. 1 crop in Oregon in terms of acreage.

To fulfill this staggering need, OSU has tested many new varieties of alfalfa, cereals, and grasses. OSU barley breeders have also developed winter forage barley that is more disease-resistant and better suited to the particular climates of Oregon’s hay-producing regions. Yet not all bales are created equal, so OSU has helped establish standards of product quality for hay and forage, based on nutritional analysis and digestible fiber content.

These standards have raised the value of Oregon hay as an export product. Although less than 10 percent of Oregon's hay production is shipped overseas, the level of quality required by the export market has set a high standard for the entire industry. And that’s led to another value in improved hay and grass selections: high-quality forage begets high-quality meat and dairy products.

Source: OSU forage specialist Mylen Bohle

Share this