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The Cattle Connection

The cattlemen's connection to timely topics, current research, and profitable management strategies
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Conducting a Feed Inventory

Posted by Travis Meteer - Nutrition

A dismal hay and corn crop equal a shortage of cattle feed; but how many farmers can tell you the number of bales, pounds of co-products, and days of grazing they have on store?

Taking time to count bales of hay, weigh stored feed, and calculate your available grazing days could pay you dividends.

It is important to have a plan. After you have a feed inventory, it is important to identify what feeds fit different stages of production. For instance, baled cornstalks will fit best with the nutrient requirements of a mid-gestation cow. (March calving cows in Sept., Oct., and Nov.) Baled cornstalks would come far from meeting requirements of a lactating cow.

So utilize poor quality forages like cornstalks, CRP hay, wheat straw, etc. when cows are at their lowest nutrient requirements (mid-gestation, dry). By simply matching your feeds with the nutrient requirements of the cow you can avoid paying for high priced supplement.

At the same time, save your good quality forages like hay, corn silage, and husklage for closer to calving. These higher quality forages will most likely be higher in protein and TDN. They are also more palatable and thus higher intakes help achieve proper nutrient requirements are met.

Supplementing protein and energy in the form of CGF, DDGS, or commercial supplements is in most cases inevitable. However, with proper management of your forages you can greatly minimize the amount of protein/energy supplement needed.

Conducting a feed inventory, then mapping out usage of the available feed should be part of your drought management plan. Match the feeds to the cow requirements to minimize supplementation of expensive feeds. Until you know what feeds and how much of them you have you cannot prepare yourself to make feed purchases or sell cows.

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