Cattle Feeding in Winter: How to Prepare, Budget, & Avoid Shortages This YearChris Beerman
Feed is the number 1 biggest input cost for beef cattle accounting for 59% of your total cost. During winter is when the majority of this cost is spent.
Read on for tips on cattle feeding this winter without overspending and without undernourishing your herd.
Cattle Feeding During Winter
Winter feeding can cost farmers up to 5 times as much as summer grazing in a pasture or in a paddock. On average, it costs around $1.50 USD a day per cow for wintering costs. When you consider how many days there are in winter and how many cows you have, you can see how quickly the cost adds up.
That’s why it’s essential that your stored feed cost is kept to a minimum without sacrificing the nutrition of your livestock.
Create a Budget for Feeding Cattle in Winter
Feeding your cattle in winter requires planning, well before the cold weather hits, so that you have a game plan before any shortages pop up.
Creating a winter feed budget is based on how many cows you have, their weight, the grazing area and the predicted feed intake.
Learn how to calculate supply and demand so you can make an accurate budget for your livestock.
Store Hay in the Barn for Winter Feeding
Research shows that the level of feed quality loss depends on storage methods.
There is a huge difference between feed stored in the barn and feed that is stored outside with no cover. Large, round hay bales that were stored in the barn only suffered a 6% quality loss over winter.
Bales that were stored on the ground outside with no cover lost a whopping 37% in quality.
It’s best if you can store your hay in the barn. But if you can’t store the hay covered on tires. This way the quality lost is only 8%.
It’s the combination of covering and being off the ground that preserves the quality of the feed. In this research experiment, the bales that were stored on tires without a cover saw a 29% drop in quality.
Store your hay properly over winter to keep your feed’s quality up.
Provide the Correct Quantity and Quality
Cows can eat as much as they want and still be undernourished. It’s not just quantity but quality of livestock feed that matters.
Plus, cattle will waste more low-quality hay than they will of the good stuff.
If you feed your cattle the high-quality hay early during winter feeding, they may refuse to eat the low-quality hay in later weeks.
Of course, you need to give your cattle the nutrients they need. But to maximize profits you can’t afford to give feed that is full of expensive nutrients.
That’s why it’s crucial to know the quality of your hay and how much nutrients your cattle need.
You may also choose to have lab analyses performed on your hay to get accurate nutrition data.
Use a Feeder to Minimize Waste
Use hay feeders to reduce waste. to minimize waste. Using a feeder minimizes waste because cattle are not able to soil the hay.
You can also use a hay ring if you plan to give more than one day’s serving of hay at a time.
Bottom Line on Cattle Feeding
Feeding your cattle over the cold, winter months is no small thing. We hope these tips help you budget properly and plan correctly to maximize your savings.
Next, check out this ultimate guide to raising beef cattle.