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Winter intake and cow condition?

Posted: Fri Dec 13, 2019 4:48 am
by Stocker Steve
Have you noticed a difference in intake or cow condition when winter feeding baleage vs. dry hay of the "same quality"?

Re: Winter intake and cow condition?

Posted: Fri Dec 13, 2019 9:20 am
by Dave
Cows do like balage a lot better than dry hay. They will really slick it up. But I think if you were to calculate intake on a dry matter basis there probably isn't a huge difference. I never had baleage and dry hay of the same quality. All the baleage I had came from dairies. A whole lot more nutrients in the ground and it was cut at an earlier stage of growth. Thinking about that, there could be the reason the cows liked it so well.

Re: Winter intake and cow condition?

Posted: Fri Dec 13, 2019 10:53 am
by 1982vett
Hard to equalize the two types in my opinion. Mostly because the aren’t the same thing. I’ve got hay tests on my hay. Since I have some green winter pasture I’ve been feeding a lesser quality of two different types of grass hay. Had a cool wet spell move through the other day so I decided to feed a “better quality” of grass hay that has a lot of clover in it. Tests 2 - 3 points higher in protein. I’d thought they would inhale it but 3 days later they still have some in the rings. They were gathered up at the fence yesterday waiting so I put some of my worst quality hay out. It’s gone this morning so I’m thinking texture has some weight in the equation at least for a while. I think this because a third pasture I’ve only fed the clover hay to eats it just fine and cleans it up.

Re: Winter intake and cow condition?

Posted: Fri Dec 13, 2019 11:01 am
by Jeanne - Simme Valley
IMO - there "shouldn't" be any difference in BCS - but - I do know my cows like a change. give them something different, and they seem to act like they were starving. I really can't make the comparison you are asking about, because 95% of my 1st cutting is always baleage and all my 2nd cutting is dry big bales.

Re: Winter intake and cow condition?

Posted: Fri Dec 13, 2019 12:01 pm
by Stocker Steve
I have two fields where I wrapped part of the hay and dry baled the remainder a day or two later.
Cattle definitely go after the balage harder, but don't seem as content.

Re: Winter intake and cow condition?

Posted: Sat Dec 14, 2019 5:47 am
by Jeanne - Simme Valley
They (obviously) have to eat more baleage because it is part water.

Re: Winter intake and cow condition?

Posted: Sat Dec 14, 2019 4:48 pm
by gcreekrch
A 5x5 bale here will feed 35 cows for a day whether it is dry or 35% moisture. I have noticed that later cut feed with over mature stems will be better cleaned up if dry hay. Makes sense as the cows don’t prefer to eat the dry stems when grazing either.

They all do need to eat “enough”.

Re: Winter intake and cow condition?

Posted: Sat Dec 14, 2019 8:11 pm
by Silver
35 is the number we figure for either dry or baleage here as well. Used to think we'd need to feed more baleage but it doesn't seem to work that way.

Re: Winter intake and cow condition?

Posted: Sun Dec 15, 2019 10:25 am
by Jeanne - Simme Valley
Silver wrote:
Sat Dec 14, 2019 8:11 pm
35 is the number we figure for either dry or baleage here as well. Used to think we'd need to feed more baleage but it doesn't seem to work that way.
Strange. My bales are definitely not as big as yours. Wet, maybe 1250-1350# (can range 35-70% moisture). Dry bales maybe 750-800#. Dry bales last 2x as long as wet bales (figure they are pretty equal in dry matter basis). Generally, dry bales are only 2nd cut hay - which is mostly grass hay with some clover.

Re: Winter intake and cow condition?

Posted: Sun Dec 15, 2019 7:35 pm
by Silver
Jeanne - Simme Valley wrote:
Sun Dec 15, 2019 10:25 am
Silver wrote:
Sat Dec 14, 2019 8:11 pm
35 is the number we figure for either dry or baleage here as well. Used to think we'd need to feed more baleage but it doesn't seem to work that way.
Strange. My bales are definitely not as big as yours. Wet, maybe 1250-1350# (can range 35-70% moisture). Dry bales maybe 750-800#. Dry bales last 2x as long as wet bales (figure they are pretty equal in dry matter basis). Generally, dry bales are only 2nd cut hay - which is mostly grass hay with some clover.
It seems strange that your cows won't eat your dry hay. Do you have a theory?

Re: Winter intake and cow condition?

Posted: Mon Dec 16, 2019 5:47 am
by Jeanne - Simme Valley
Dry bales just seem to fill them more?? I may be way off on weight, never weighed - dry bales are maybe 4-6" bigger, so maybe more dry matter - because they do very well on the dry bales, I just never have a lot of them to feed to the cows. I feed dry bales when I'm going to be gone on a trip, so guy filling in for chores doesn't usually have to feed herd. Don't get me wrong, they LOVE the lush 2nd cutting dry.

Re: Winter intake and cow condition?

Posted: Mon Dec 16, 2019 8:48 am
by Silver
So then in your experience it would take you twice as many silage bales to winter a cow? Or do you think that given free choice they would consume twice as much silage hay?
Our cows are living on straight baleage these days, amount fed is based on what they can clean up. So far, it is working out very close to what they have normally consumed when feeding dry hay. None of my feed tested great this year, it was a haying season that will be remembered for a very long time. Silage bales only tested 10-11% cp, ADF around 40%.

Re: Winter intake and cow condition?

Posted: Mon Dec 16, 2019 8:56 am
by TexasBred
When you say a bale of baleage will feed as many cows for one day as a bale of dry hay keep in mind that the baleage is only about 35% dry matter whereas the dry hay is 85% dry matter so we're feeding a small meal of dry matter along with a very large drink of water. Watch body condition as the baleage is processed very quickly and you'll begin to see the lack of nutrients rather quickly.

Re: Winter intake and cow condition?

Posted: Mon Dec 16, 2019 9:34 am
by Silver
My baleage is closer to 60% dry matter, so suddenly the comparison between dry and baleage is much closer on a dry matter basis.

Re: Winter intake and cow condition?

Posted: Mon Dec 16, 2019 10:49 am
by Jeanne - Simme Valley
Silver - yes - that's about right with my bales. But - I have very few dry bales due to the fact that it is almost impossible to get 3 days in a row to dry hay - in June. If you wanted to wait til July, you have a better chance but the quality isn't any where close to my first week in June baleage. That is why 2nd cutting is generally put up as dry bales but we only put up half the acres for 2nd cut - graze the other 1/2. Dry bales would definitely cost me less, but, the majority of bales are fed to cows nursing calves (start calving 1-1), so the 16% works really great. Heck, even the babies eat it.
Costs more for baleage but at least I know it is going to get done.