The winter season is upon beef cattle producers in the upper Midwest. Winter feeding management is critical as winter feed costs are the single largest expense in a cow-calf operation.
A winter feeding program will vary for each operation depending on the quality of forage being fed, cost and availability of winter feed supplements, animal type (mature cow, replacement heifer or back-grounded calves) body condition of that animal and calving date, if applicable. In the upper Midwest, a large percentage of winter feeding includes the middle and last trimester of gestation and a portion of the first stages of lactation in spring-calving herds.
To choose a winter feeding program that is the most viable for your operation, know what type of animal you are feeding, stage of pregnancy (if the animal is in production), body condition, available feed resources and feed prices. For example, dry cows require feed lower in quality than nursing cows, and young females require feed higher in quality than mature cows.