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Feeding Cattle A Little Different This Year

November is here and Thanksgiving is just around the corner and Christmas time is coming but to look outside it is very different than it has been in my lifetime. The drought has affected us all and some of the long term forecasts indicate that it will not be over anytime soon. Farmers are in need of forages to keep livestock through the winter, and homeowners are concerned about lawns and landscapes that they have put a lot of time and money into creating and maintaining. I wish I had a magic potion to help all of these people get the much needed rain that they need. The one thing that I have learned from talking to individuals over the past few months that have been involved in agriculture a lot longer than me, is that this to shale pass. We have droughts and then we have periods of rain it’s a never ending cycle. This has been a year that we have had tremendous pressure from army worms and drought, even to the point now that many people will not be able to plant winter grazing for livestock.

Drought can have a double impact on cattle producers. Not only is forage limited during the grazing months, the production of hay is limited. With the lack of forage, both grazed and conserved, many producers are looking for sources of feed for their cattle going into the fall and winter. Hay is an option, but it’s not the only option. Hay replacement rations can be an economical option to purchasing additional hay. Grains are often cheaper per unit of energy than hay, especially when hay prices increase during a drought period.

When considering these feeding options, producers should consider three major issues:

  1. Cost of the potential feeds and their nutrients
  2. Which rations will meet the nutritional requirements of their cattle
  3. How to properly feed cattle with the hay replacement ration.

See the following chart for feeding guidelines, additional resources are available through the extension office.

chart