Supplemental Winter Feeding
Winter feeding should be managed so as not to degrade the pastures when re-growth has stopped for the winter.
During the winter; "Quality" hay, "Mol-Mag" type mineral blocks or tub’s, and other supplements should be fed to help cattle produce enough energy to stay warm AND continue putting on their recommended daily gains. If feeding in a pasture during the winter months the feeding location should be moved often in order to avoid degrading the pasture. If animals are contained and fed at one central location a heavy use area protection (stabilized feeding area) should be installed to control manure and surface water runoff.
Adjustments to energy intake must be made to cope with winter conditions like we’ve all have been experiencing so far this winter. A practical rule of thumb is to increase energy intake by 1% for each degree of coldness below the lower critical temperature of a cow. For practical purposes, a 20 degree F temperature can be used as the lower critical temperature. If the outside temperature is 0 degrees F with calm wind speed, then energy intake should be increased 20%. If daily TDN requirement during this period is 11.2/lbs., then an additional 2 pounds TDN are required to prevent stress on your cattle.
Parasite control is also extremely important in a year-round grazing operation. Consult with your
veterinarian about a parasite control plan that works for your operation. Most parasites can be found at
the base of forage plants where the livestock are susceptible to ingesting them. If left untreated
internal parasites can cause problems with nutrient digestion and adsorption resulting in decreased
livestock growth and productivity. For more information refer to your USDA-ARS "Graziers Notebook".
If you don’t have one, contact your local NRCS/FSA office and request one. Their FREE!
Again, I would like to stress that every grazing plan is different based off of your location, forages, animal type (Breed), and obviously animal units (number of animals), and it will need to be adjusted not only to growing conditions but also your management style.
The National Research Council (NRC) indicates that a 1,300-pound cow requires a ration with 1.59 pounds of protein and 10.1 pounds of TDN during the middle third of gestation and 1.98 pounds of protein and 12.7 pounds of TDN during late gestation. There is considerable variability in the nutritional values of forages; therefore, it is important to have a laboratory analysis of your forages. Benchmark values suggested by the NRC include: grass hay, 55% TDN and 10% crude protein (CP); mature alfalfa hay, 50% TDN and 14% CP.
A 1,000-pound, first-calf heifer requires approximately the same amount of TDN and CP as a 1,300-pound mature cow. First-calf heifers should be fed apart from the cow herd because they typically will not compete well with mature cows. Cows in good condition at calving will generally cycle well at 60 days post-calving whether they lose or gain weight after calving. However, cows that calve in moderate or thin condition will usually cycle and conceive late. Many will have difficulty maintaining a 12-month calving interval.
Increasing alfalfa in a beef cow diet can be an excellent way to meet increasing protein requirements. This can be accomplished by feeding hay with a higher percent alfalfa hay, feeding a portion of forage as alfalfa or feeding the desired amount of alfalfa once a week.