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Winter Nutrition

Posted: Tue Jan 10, 2017 9:53 am
by brett4usm
I have just bought 30 head of Angus cattle from a man I know who desperately needed to sell them. They are in average to below condition and I did not plan on buying them, but couldn't pass up the opportunity. The cows are close to third trimester and I have an abundance of medium quality hay, but no rye-grass because I did not plan on purchasing this winter. I am looking for the best/ cost effective option for them at this stage in cycle and time of year. Any suggestions?

Re: Winter Nutrition

Posted: Wed Jan 11, 2017 11:00 am
by TexasBred
brett4usm wrote:I have just bought 30 head of Angus cattle from a man I know who desperately needed to sell them. They are in average to below condition and I did not plan on buying them, but couldn't pass up the opportunity. The cows are close to third trimester and I have an abundance of medium quality hay, but no rye-grass because I did not plan on purchasing this winter. I am looking for the best/ cost effective option for them at this stage in cycle and time of year. Any suggestions?

What do you consider "average" hay? Has it been tested. May be all the need.

Re: Winter Nutrition

Posted: Wed Jan 11, 2017 11:16 am
by skyhightree1
TexasBred wrote:What do you consider "average" hay? Has it been tested. May be all the need.


TB don't be so difficult you know " average " hay :lol2: :lol2:

Re: Winter Nutrition

Posted: Wed Jan 11, 2017 11:43 am
by farmerjan
If they are in average to below average condition it could be caused by a couple of things to start. Maybe they weren't getting enough to eat. Any average hay will help fill them up and get their gut tract working better. If they are in third trimester, then a little supplemental grain is in order. Not enough to overload their systems, but enough to boost their energy and maybe help them to gain a few pounds. If they are cows then should not have a calving issue unless they are very thin. NOT SEEING THEM, my first thought would be to give them all the hay they can eat for at least a week so they are laying around chewing their cud. Then put them on about 2 lbs per head of a 15-17% protein feed just to get them some energy and a GOOD mineral. If they are about third trimester, you have a month or two to get them in better shape. So somewhere in the 50-75 lbs feed a day for 30 cows. But, as I said, I haven't seen them. We buy some less than great cows, many w calves, cheap, and that is the protocol....fill em up with average decent hay for about a week, so they are not hungry, then a little grain if they are rough or thin, and then watch and evaluate. Mineral is important.

Re: Winter Nutrition

Posted: Wed Jan 11, 2017 1:07 pm
by Son of Butch
farmerjan wrote:If they are in average to below average condition it could be caused by a couple of things... to start....
fill em up with average decent hay for about a week, so they are not hungry, then a little grain if they are rough or thin, and then watch and evaluate. Mineral is important.

Good plan... Jan
Skimping on mineral is not cost effective.
Since they were acquired in a desperation sale assume a quality mineral program was lacking and correct it.
Cost effective, you have an abundance of medium quality hay, spend the 30 bucks to have it tested.
Your abundant supply of hay and a good mineral program may be all they need.

Re: Winter Nutrition

Posted: Wed Jan 11, 2017 2:08 pm
by JSCATTLE
I'm no expert but have been in your situation.. free choice hay and 2 lbs of 20% cubes a day should do some good.. I don't buy high dollar hay anymore .. down here the difference in 8 percent hay and 10 percent is 25 bucks .. I can put out cubes every 3rd or 4th day and keep them in better condition than I can buying 45 dollar hay .. much cheaper too ..

Re: Winter Nutrition

Posted: Sun Jan 15, 2017 12:04 pm
by WalnutCrest
farmerjan wrote:<snip>

Not enough to overload their systems

<snip>


What, in your experience, does this mean?

Re: Winter Nutrition

Posted: Sun Jan 15, 2017 12:42 pm
by farmerjan
In our experience it would be going from no supplemental feed to something like 2-3% body weight right off the bat. What we do is about 1-2 lbs per head initially. Don't know if that is the right thing, just what we have done. If the cows are hungry, filling them up with hay just gets their gut to working. We have found that a cow will gobble grain if she is hungry and then might get a "belly ache" so to speak then back off and wind up with acidosis and actually take a step backwards. So to me "overloading their system" is too much grain too fast; adding to the change of farm, change of water, change of everything.
Example. We just bought 10 cows, at a sale. All ckd preg except one had 1 mo calf with her. We ran them through the chute to check mouths and ear tag. Nothing else. Put them in field with 2 rolls of hay in feeders. Put some silage in trough, about 100-150 lbs since 2 are avg to a little thin and 3 are fat. We will observe them for the next several days to see how they are doing. Don't know if any/all were ever together so it will be a sorting of "pecking order" etc. Get used to the hay, the waterer, and learning the fence perimeter. Then probably in a couple days we will go take a 5 gal bucket of 17% pellets that we get and pour across the bunk and call them. It's about 20 lbs to a bucket m/l. Try to get them used to us as "good guys" with feed. We don't feed much grain, especially not to the bred cows unless they are thin; and the old "grandma group" will get a little. But I am talking about 1-2 lbs per head. We have both avg quality hay, mostly orchard grass and pasture grass, and sorghum/sudan hay that we made dry and didn't wrap since conditions were good this past fall. There are also 6 other bought cows in this field, that we got before the holidays. 2 are high headed looney tune skittish, 2 are pretty quiet older cows, 2 avg. All know the feed bunk routine now, although we have to back off to get the nutty ones to come to it. They were CHEAP, and will probably go to a sale when they have a calf on the ground. But the new ones will see what is going on, get curious and come with the others as soon as they get it figured out. Unless we get some that are very thin, they will all get the "token" amount of 1-2 lbs per head. If there are any thin ones, we will up the grain to about 3-4 lbs per head after about 2-3 weeks, and move them to a separate lot. But we try to get the condition back on them just by making sure they have enough hay to eat. During pasture season it's a little different, but they usually all get the initial come to the farm and get oriented to filling up on hay and see what their dispositions attitudes are.
We will worm only after a couple of weeks of all you can eat hay. They need to get full before you start putting the stress of even worming on them.

Don't say it is the only way to do it, just what we have kinda developed into a routine over the years. Seems to work for us. I am not opposed to grain or cubes, just that we try to have "grass genetics" and so feeding alot of grain defeats the purpose....and deflates the pocketbook!!!! But I like that if we go in a field, the cows come since they know they are going to get a "treat"....even in the summer when grass is lush...

Re: Winter Nutrition

Posted: Sun Jan 15, 2017 12:52 pm
by WalnutCrest
There are lots of people who read these threads but don't comment. Your additional response will no doubt help many. Thanks!

Re: Winter Nutrition

Posted: Sun Jan 15, 2017 1:32 pm
by farmerjan
WalnutCrest ; after reading all that you did for that heifer with the frozen hoof, and the ET work you do, I surely am humbled that you think my experiences with cows will help anyone much.
We are a fairly big operation I guess in compared to some here, but I don't think that my experiences are all that extensive. Just alot of trial and error. But if I help one person, then I am glad to try.
We do a fair amount of buying and selling as a way to turn over dollars, and also gives us some leeway to cull and keep the better producing cows so hopefully the more profitable. I just think so many think that they get some animals and then want to "fix" them right away and it just doesn't work that fast.
With all the years I have in the dairy industry, milking, and milk testing and all, and spending time listening to vets at meetings about the concentrated feeding systems and rations for dairy cows, I have learned that just putting grain into an animal can cause more harm than good. The dairy rations nowadays are so fine tuned that if something gets a little off, the cows can get into trouble so quick. And that is big money in lost production...with today's milk prices that is a disaster in a hurry.
So we have tried to incorporate into our beef operation the practices of both types of cows, and walk a line between both. I do supplement my dairy animals that I use as nurse cows, but I am asking them to feed 2-4 calves at a time and they will milk all the fat off their back and then get into a negative energy balance and not cycle or have poor heats and not breed back if I don't supplement them. But it's not cheap, and takes months to get them back into condition if they get too thin.
Same thing is a beef animal won't get in good condition in 2 weeks time. But if she is FULL on hay, and the rumen working good, then a little supplementation will go a long way to weight gain and condition improvement.

Re: Winter Nutrition

Posted: Sun Jan 15, 2017 2:19 pm
by warped04
WalnutCrest wrote:There are lots of people who read these threads but don't comment. Your additional response will no doubt help many. Thanks!


Some of us are only lvl 1 compared to your lvl 15. I'm just trying to learn vicariously through you. Oh, I was the exception to wanting more responses? :cboy:

But I would agree. What you did with the frozen hoof was incredible. Gather info and trust your instincts.