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Feeding and Managing Cows on High Grain Diets

Feeding and Managing Cows on High Grain Diets - Feeding and...

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Feeding and Managing Cows on High Grain Diets INTRODUCTION Increasing land prices, rising lease rates, restrictive grazing leases, intensified operations, as well as drought-related hay availability have all led to an increase in the use of alternative wintering programs for beef herds. While limit-fed grain rations have the potential to reduce wintering costs provided the programs are closely managed, additional herd management and feeding precision is needed to help ensure success. Several recent University studies have investigated different scenarios for limit-feeding high concentrate diets to heifers and adult cows. In addition, there have been several fact sheets, newsletters, and research reports discussing limit-fed high grain wintering rations for adult beef cows. All would suggest that if managed appropriately, limit-fed high grain wintering programs can be a low-cost alternative worth considering. WHEN TO CONSIDER LIMIT-FEEDING As discussed at previous Range Beef Cow Symposiums, there are considerable opportunities for reducing winter feeding costs by replacing a portion of the traditional forage-based winter ration with grain or other byproduct feeds (Wright, 2001; Maddox, 2001). Bunk feeding, or wintering cattle in drylot, may also create opportunities to utilize other feed sources and byproducts not normally considered, helping to reduce overall winter feed costs. This is especially true when hay prices are high. Deciding whether or not to limit feed is not only a question of comparing the price of corn vs. the price of hay. In addition to corn, there are several alternative forages and byproduct feeds (discussed
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by other presenters) that offer benefits in both feeding management as well as price. Other grains, including milo, wheat, barley, etc. can also be incorporated into limit-fed wintering rations. Typically, wheat and barley are blended with other commodities to help reduce the incidence of digestive upsets. Because of the increased potential for digestive upset, most recommendations are to limit wheat and barley to 50% or less of the total grain, and overall barley and/or wheat intake should stay below .5% of BW. Similarly, wheat midds are also blended with other grains and byproducts because of the potential for variation in starch content. High fiber, low starch byproduct feeds such as soybean hulls and beet pulp are beneficial in high grain, limit-fed diets, helping to dilute the overall starch content of the ration and improve feed handling and safety. Additional energy sources may also include drought-stressed, low test weight grains. Lack of irrigation water and localized severe weather may create opportunities to purchase drought-stressed or damaged (light test weight) grains at a lower price. Often these grains, although having lighter bushel weights, have a feed values similar to or just slightly lower than average test weight grain.
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Feeding and Managing Cows on High Grain Diets - Feeding and...

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