How Much Winter Feed/Forage Do I Need? Am I Feeding the Right Animals?

From November of 2017, here are two questions we ask ourselves every year. 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 ca

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2 thoughts on “How Much Winter Feed/Forage Do I Need? Am I Feeding the Right Animals?

  1. We have had so much rain that we have not been able to cut our fields. It is 24 to 30 inches laying down in places. Would it be better to cut it after the frost or graze it? I am a small farm. I use hay rings so I don’t ha a lot of waist on my hay. I have enough hay to make it through winter if we have a normal winter.

    1. If you have enough hay to make it through the winter, then I would not consider putting that up as hay. 1. It’s pretty challenging to get it dry this time of year. 2. I wouldn’t want to remove the carbon and nutrients from the field if I didn’t need to. and 3. You would be better off grazing it if possible.

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