Teff is considered a premium hay for a wide range of livestock including dairy, beef, sheep and horses. The “soft forage” is very palatable and readily consumed as dry hay, silage or pasture by livestock. The forage quality is very similar to timothy hay at the various maturity stages as shown in the table below.
|Forage Quality of Timothy and Teff Grass Hay Compared|
|Quality Parameters||Timothy Hay||Teff Hay|
|% Crude Protein (CP)||8-14||9-14|
|Acid Detergent Fiber (ADF)||32-36||32-38|
|Neutral Detergent Fiber (NDF)||53-59||53-65|
|Total Digestible Nutrients (TDN)||57-65||55-64|
Producers who plan to feed their teff to lactating cows should pay special attention to harvest maturity. Like other grasses and legumes, teff’s forage quality decreases with maturity. Harvest just before heading to maximize Relative Feed Quality (RFQ) and milk per ton. High quality teff hay normally has a range from 100 to 125 RFQ. Animals prefer teff to other forages so teff is best fed in a Total Mixed Ration (TMR) to deter bunk-sorting. Most nutritionists will find teff easy to fit into the ration with the results of a good feed test and an adequate forage inventory.
Teff can be fed as dry hay to over-wintering beef cows or rotationally grazed by lactating cows during the summer slump period. For cattle on feed, follow the dairy suggestions above.
Sheep and Goats
A palatable forage that can be utilized as stored feed or rotationally grazed. Avoid over-grazing which will slow recovery and stand persistence.
A preferred forage for horses with relatively low non-structural carbohydrates as confirmed by a recent horse feeding trial at Penn State University. Teff hay is high in calcium as well as phosphorus, iron, copper, aluminum, barium and thiamine and adequate potassium levels.