Drought-stressed hay -- too rich?

Kerry Isherwood

i went to pick up the last of my "safe" hay and its bad, all of it, leaving only this year's first cut which was severely drought stressed. It was cut last week (dont know what time of day). Its a fine-stem mixed grass/timothy (no alfalfa) stunted from drought w lots of seed heads and it was baled very dry and the farm has been feeding it out of the field without issues. Ive tested this farm's hay in years past & its always well-below 10% ESC & starch, so my questions are:

How much (in general) does drought-stress affect ESC & starch? Is the approx 30% reduction of sugars with soaking enough of a safeguard, or is it still too variable to consider that a safe option?

The good news is that both of my IRs' diets is 10-15lbs/day ODTB cubes and the long-stem component comprises only about 5-lbs/day as a boredom buster. The bad news is that i cant get an alternative hay until next week bc, of course, I waited til im down to my last bale to get the next load (sigh). Obviously i cant get an analysis done before feeding, either.

Opinions needed.

Kerry in NY
Sept 2014

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