Dealing with flooded hay and grain
Nebraska Extension Beef Systems Specialist
Is wet feed and hay salvageable?
The first thing to ask is where did the water come from? If hay, silage, or grain was in contact with flood water that could have come in contact with chemicals from building or cities (any water from rivers or streams) federal regulations state that it should not be fed and should instead be disposed of. Feed that was in fields that ponded due to rain or snow melt maybe salvageable. However, if water came up through tiles into the field it could contain animal waste products, high chemical levels and other contaminants.
Get wet hay away from structures.
Hay bales that get wet can spontaneously catch fire, ones that are 30 to 40 percent moisture content pose the greatest risk of fire. Thus it is a good idea to get flooded hay out of building as soon as possible. To check a stack’s temperature for fire risk, drive a sharp pointed pipe into the hay, lower a thermometer inside the pipe and leave it there for about 20 minutes. At 150 degrees F, the hay is approaching the danger zone. At 170 degrees F, hot spots or fire pockets are possible. Because of hay’s tendency to heat and mold quickly, hay that was not in contact with moving flood water should be spread out to dry as soon as possible and turned often. If the hay is molded it is best to dispose of it.
Dealing with wet grain.
Corn that was in ponded water will stay at about 30 percent moisture after the water drains off and soybeans will stay about 25 percent moisture. If the grain was in ponded water that was not potentially contaminated with chemicals, then it could be treated like high moisture corn and could either be packed or bagged and allowed to ferment. Grain is likely to be moldy by the time the water has receded. It is a good idea to test wet grain for mycotoxins (the toxic substances produced by fungi). Whole corn and whole soybeans can be fed to cattle. Corn is a good way to provide supplemental energy. However, cattle that are not used to receiving grain should slowly have the corn introduced in the diet. Soybeans contain 20% fat and thus need to be limited to 10 to 12 percent of the ration’s dry matter. However, they are a good source of both protein (40% CP) and energy (91% TDN). Make sure cattle are not eating a supplement with urea when feeding whole soybeans. Whole corn and soybeans can be a good way to meet the energy and protein needs of lactating cows.
When feeding, remember to adjust amounts fed for moisture as the added water does not bring in any nutrients.