October 25, 2020 – Feeding Cattle through the Winter

It’s the end of October now, and winter is just around the corner. Summer grass is dying, which has been the mainstay of cattle diets since spring.

Now what do they eat?

Well, there are a few things that can be offered. First and foremost is hay.

A tractor is necessary to move round bales.

Hay comes in smaller square bales and large round bales. A single cow can eat a square bale every day. Square bales cost anywhere from $7-12 on average. So that’s per cow, per day. Those costs add up quickly.

Round bales come in different sizes and cost $40 and up depending on size and quality of hay. At our small farm, we feed 3 round bales a week.

Be sure to remove hay wraps or hay strings. If ingested, they can cause problems.

However, most hay does not contain all the nutrients that the cows need. They need minerals. We put out protein tubs with the proper minerals needed.

You must make sure that the tubs are horse safe if there are horses that frequent the same pasture. Some cattle tubs are not safe for horses to consume.

There are winter grasses that we plant. These take the place of summer grasses and provide excellent winter nutrition. Our goal is to feed hay between the death of summer grass and the growth of winter grass.

Here in the south, we plant rye grass, sometimes with a mix of oats. It can withstand light freezes and is nutrient dense.

There are other options, such as range cubes, silage, and haylage. You should inquire at your local feed store or co-op to find out the best winter feeding plan for cattle in your area.

And don’t forget about water. It is the most essential nutrient. When water freezes, you must provide an alternate source.

Happy Fall!

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