Do You Have Enough Winter Feed and Are You Feeding the Right Animals?

I often talk about taking inventory of winter feedstuff.  I’m primarily measuring dry matter, e.g. hay, pasture, stockpile, crop residue, and grazeable annuals still left.  Fall rains certainly helped to green things up and provide some new growth, but that won’t last much longer and real growth is about done and dormancy of perennials is not far off.  Three or four nights in a row in the 20’s is usually enough to stop and/or kill top growth and force dormancy.  If the weather stays cold or at least cool, plants will remain dormant until starting to grow again in the spring.  Please note; as long as that plant is still growing at all, it’s not dormant. Back to the dry matter; how do the dry matter requirements of the ruminant animals for the winter period match up with what you have on hand?  Figure an average weight per class and then multiply that number times the number of each class.  Now you have a total live weight.  Multiply total live weight by .03 to get an average daily intake.  For example 20 cows weighting 1,100 pounds is 22,000 pounds live weight times .03 (three percent dry matter intake) equals 660 pounds of dry matter needed per day. Compare the amount of dry matter you will need for the livestock with how much you have and absolutely allow for waste.  How hay is stored and fed affects how much is actually consumed.  Hay stored outside and fed free choice can easily waste up to 45 percent of the offered amount.  The more waste, the mo

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