Winter feed represents the largest single cost on a cow-calf operation. Therefore when looking to reduce the cost-of-production, it is very important to take a long and hard look at winter feed costs. The old saying, “a penny saved is a penny earned” remains very true when feeding beef cattle.
Science tells us that a 1,300 lb dry pregnant cow in good condition needs to eat about 27 lbs. of hay per day to maintain herself and grow a calf. But when beef producers project the feed inventory they need for the winter, they may actually estimate their cows feeding needs at 35-40 lbs. of hay per day. Where does the missing feed go? Producers are really tracking hay disappearance, rather than hay consumed by cows. Disappearance includes parts of bales spoiled during storage, dropped on the way to the feeder, and wasted or refused during the feeding process. Is there a way to improve this?
A beef producer can influence the feeding efficiency on their operation by helping to reduce the amount of feed the cows are wasting. Cows are notorious wasters of feed, and there are some things a producer can do to minimize the amount of feed the cattle are wasting.
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