Managing short feed supplies after the drought
Ag News Wire
Because most of the states hit by the 2012 drought were in the corn-producing areas of the country, serious feed shortages will occur for most livestock operations this winter.
For cow-calf operations, this winter will represent an opportunity to incorporate research-based discoveries when managing feed offerings to wintering beef cows. Cow-calf producers planning to have sufficient forage and grain inventories for winter in northern climates must consider stocking approximately 1,000 pounds of hay per cow during winter. This is about one large round bale per cow.
Given the feed shortages, it is even more important than usual to avoid hay waste during feeding. When delivering hay to cows, producers must ensure only the hay that will be consumed over a 24-hour period is delivered in a feeder. Data from the University of Minnesota beef research facilities at Grand Rapids and Rosemount indicate that hay waste is kept to within 5 percent when cows are fed long hay in a round bale feeder or ground hay in a feed bunk. Greater losses (over 18 percent) are expected when large bales are simply rolled or shredded onto the ground. Additional hay waste reductions occurred when limiting time access to hay feeder. Limited access by cows to round bale feeders for 14 hours reduced hay waste further.
Because hay may not be readily available in certain regions, some producers are looking into alternatives for securing a forage supply in support of wintering beef cows or growing backgrounding cattle.
Drought-stricken corn or other forage fields and late-season planting of wheat or triticale provide possible alternatives to short hay supplies. For more information on feed supply management, visit http://www.extension.umn.edu/beef/.