Cattle feed question : LUSENET : Countryside : One Thread

I finally have a place together to store hay and feed for the winter, but since I raised cattle last things have changed a bit. I have a nurse cow, two,-weaned six month old holstein cross calves, and two,-month old jersey cross calves still on the cow. Used to be I would just buy alfalfa hay by the ton to feed over the winter,, and the local dairy ration from the feed store. Where I am at now, I can buy from a local farmer, cracked barley and naked oats mixed or seperate, as well as the big round bales of either haylage, or silage--or a mixed-pea oat hay.The price to buy from him is certainly much more affordable than the alfalfa, which is shipped here from across the state. I need to know if any of you have fed the haylage to your animals--or the naked oats which is supposed to have a protein content similar to corn. And for my few cows, would the haylage or big round bales spoil before they could all be eaten??? Any advice with this would be greatly appreciated! Thanks--Lynn

-- Lynn Royal (, August 26, 2000


I don't know what to tell you about the grain, other than asking your local feed mill guy. As far as the round bales go - I used them for the first time last year. I didn't have a round holder for them and alot of the hay was wasted from the cows walking, laying and doing their duties on it. We tried to keep the good stuff seperate but that didn't help much. Come spring we had a huge mess of wet, rotten hay that even a bob cat had a hard time picking up. We tried burning it but only the top layer would burn. So - for this year, I'm gonna purchase a feeder for the big bales or leave them outside the fence and throw over what they'll eat. (although, it's not easy to seperate the hay in the round bales)

-- Pat (, August 26, 2000.

LYNN, no the hay will not ruin before it is eaten, I buy a lot of bales over the summer and it will be alright to feed to your cows, just today I gave them some hay that is over three years old and been in the weather all this for the oats it will be alright too. there are a lot of things you can feed a cow but not a horse or other animal.

-- david jackson (, August 26, 2000.


Wow!!! I am a mostly full-time cattle farmer and that is one heck of a question you asked. My initial reaction is you are over-feeding your critters, and thus spending feed money you don't need to. A lactating cow does need extra feed to continue to produce milk, especially since she is feeding two. It wouldn't hurt to give the small calves a bit of calf starter while surgate mom is getting her feed. Ordinary 10% protein hay should be sufficient for all of them if they have access to pasture. For that number I would just stick with good quality grass square bales.

When I go out to check on the herd (commercial beef cattle) I generally stuff a couple of range cubes in one of my pockets. One cow knows to come up and frish me. Another local cattle producer said he ran through all of the numbers on cost, protein, minerals, etc. and determined range cubes were the most cost effective supplemental feed for a weaned calf on up. It sure calms mine down when they trust me enough to take a range cube from my hand. Like giving them candy.

If you are not happy with the quality of square baled hay, take it to a feed mill to be ground up. You can supplement it with whatever you want. Around here a good square bale of grass hay sells for about $1 picked up in the field. Last I heard alfalfa hay at the Co-op was something like $6 a bale. You can add a lot of supplements for the difference.

-- Ken S. in TN (, August 26, 2000.

Thank-you all for your answers! I really appreciate ideas aimed at saving me some money!! I just don't want to do anything to jeopardize the health of my small herd! Thanks again--Lynn

-- Lynn Royal (, August 26, 2000.

Dear Lynn, you are not telling me where you live and the winter conditions that you will have to endure. Oats have a fat content 4% fat thus making them a quality grain feed for all animals.Cattle do a little better with oats if they are cracked or rolled, Barley is the best for protein, but can cause digestive problems fed in large amounts.5# would be sufficent if your winters are'nt to harsh, as always you don't want to make your pregnant cattle to fat for calving. haylage is an excellent forage feed having been partically processed through fermenting, allowing the animal better use of the forage.Round bales sound like an excellent way to feed if you can keep the animals from using it as bedding. We have goats and cattle and feed the small bales of alfalfa, with feeding maxium of 5# of rolled barley to the cows after calving and maxium of 2# of whole oats and barley to the goats after kidding. We figure around 20# of hay for each mature cow, and 5# of hay per mature goat, daily. If you had a pasture you could figure less or none at all. Hope this helps

-- Diane Brown (, August 28, 2000.

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