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Cattle Feeding More Opinion Then a question!!!

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Hey all,
I came across this convo i thought i should post here and see what others do and recommend,
i was currently talking to a buddy of mine who's orignally from Alberta Canada, he said his cousin would feed cattle once a week with the quantity needed per head it was hard to believe considering i feed my cattle everyday is that even feasible?Or good for your herd? do others on here do the same? Any input on this topic would be amazing.
 

hillsdown

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A lot of people stockpile feed.

BUT if you need to ration your feed it is not a good thing to do.
 

ToddFarmsInc

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In the winter time when I'm haying my cattle, I feed them every other day. (takes me about 10 round bales per feeding)

If the wether gets really bad, and the access roads are too icey or slick or if it's too cold to start up the diesel tractors, I will walk down to the bottom barn with the square bales stored in it, and feed them there, then I feed twice a day, because I just about can't drop enough hay down into the manger to feed longer than that.


Besides, is it really a bad ideal to be interacting with the herd on a daily basis? :dunce:
 

IluvABbeef

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CC there's an important point of difference that you missed out on that Jo just mentioned: are you talking hay or feed? With feed it's typical to be feeding every day. For me, feed is silage or grain. With the steers that we had we had to feed them most every day, but most of the time we fed every other day to make them clean up what was there so that they wouldn't get to picky over what was given to them. Grain; every day, but that was before we started feeding barley silage.

With hay, that was a different matter. We'd put out 6 or 8 bales for about 80 x 600 # calves and (if I'm correct here) they'd have them cleaned up within a few days. With 8 bales (large round @ ~1200 lbs each)---going by guesswork here--they'd be all gone by 3 or 4 days (at the most; usually it's 3 days). Now that's for feeder/stocker steers. For cows you'd have to have a couple more bales or so to not be feeding them every day; and of course that also depends on how many head you got. For instance, if my "invisible" calculations are correct, if you feed 80 cows 8 large round bales, you probably would be feeding them every day. (Since the consumption value, in a matter of speaking, is twice that of a backgrounded stocker steer or a replacement heifer).

Another thing to take into account for feeding every day or other day is the quality of the hay. If the cattle LOVE it, it'll be gone overnight. But if it's more dusty or older than the fresh first or second cutting hay that was just baled that year, it'll last longer, simply because cattle just like to be a bit too choosy for thier own sake.

(Note: please don't jump on me if I made an error, because I just did this all in my head, with no calculator or spreadsheet to back me up.)
 
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thank you all for your reply,

to answer your questions the feed is hay.

So what you guys are saying is if for example i have 30 cows, at 30 x 1000ilbs =30000lbs x3%=900 so for arguement sake lets say 1 bale (at 1500ilbs)with wasted feed in consideration.so if i put 6 bales out it should last me 6 days? is that what you guys are rying to say? :cboy:
 

msscamp

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CanadianCowboy":2v5km109 said:
Hey all,
I came across this convo i thought i should post here and see what others do and recommend,
i was currently talking to a buddy of mine who's orignally from Alberta Canada, he said his cousin would feed cattle once a week with the quantity needed per head it was hard to believe considering i feed my cattle everyday is that even feasible?Or good for your herd? do others on here do the same? Any input on this topic would be amazing.

Well, I'm thinking it is going to depend on what type of feed, and what time of year. You could get by with feeding once a week if feeding hay, but you would be wasting a fair amount of that hay - thus increasing your costs. Maybe those increased costs would be offset by the decreased use of gasoline/diesel fuel, maybe not. There is also the risk of your animals not having enough to eat towards the end of that week due to the waste. We always fed on a day to day basis - it reduced waste, made sure their daily requirements were being met, gave us the opportunity to check mineral/salt, and gave us the chance to look over the herd.
 

SRBeef

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The short answer is yes, you can "feed" cattle once a week or two weeks. I do it. Might help to have an overview of my system as its developing. Small herd, one bull. (I'm open to suggestions for improvements)

I have two groups in the winter, at weaning in about a month I will sort off all calves, heifers and steers to one field, cows, yearling heifers and bull to another field. They are on opposite sides of a fence at the single automatic/heated concrete waterer. Both groups have separate wooded areas for their winter shelter.

About Feb 1 the now weaned steers and pregnant cows/heifers trade places so all females are in the sacrifice pasture with good hay only and all males are in the corn stalks but there are still just two groups. After calving in March, most of the steers will go the processor off of the corn, a couple steers will stay with the bull for company and summer beef on separate pasture (from the cows, now yearling heifers and new calves) until 3rd week in June when everyone gets back together again into one group and my bull goes to work.

The calves get 3% of their weight in hay put out once a week in two feeders, one is a cradle type holds two big bales the other is a modified ring type for a third bale. So they could have up to 4800 lbs of hay plus whatever forage is still available in the winter sacrifice pasture which is right along the road and near the corral. I see little hay waste with these big round bale feeders.

The other group, pregnant (will preg check at weaning, any NOT pregnant will get shipped immediately) cows, pregnant yearling heifers and bull, will be grazing a corn stalk area limited by an electric wire and will always have one bale of hay available to them if they get a bit too much corn. From experience last year, I know about how many cow-days of grazing I can get from an acre of standing corn (a lot!) so by estimating the area and when I will be back I use the 4-wheeler to run done some corn and put in a hot wire. The following week or whenever I'm back I repeat the process, exposing more corn. No back wire is necessary.

In any case it is fairly straightforward to calculate how much hay or how much area of corn I need to leave them with depending on when I will be back.

A very good neighbor keeps an eye on them every day as he drives by but that's about it.

Really appears like there are two ways winter beef cattle: you feed them and all they have to do is just eat or you let them feed themselves, as cattle have been doing for centuries. In the second approach you do need to make sure they have enough feed for the time period until you are back. As I gain more experience I am finding that we can calculate how much hay or grass or stalks cattle will need per day or per week just like we can tell how much silage or grain they will eat every day.

An important point however is to make sure that both groups have good mineral, water and salt available to them at all times. The mineralyx tubs I use last fairly well, are not turned over and doesn't matter if they get snowed on...

That's a long answer to your question but yes, it is possible to provide "feed" to cattle once once a week or two unless you are in a grain or silage finishing program. jmho and (limited) experience.

I'm fairly new to cattle (have been in row cops for many years). It does surprise me a bit to find that letting cattle feed themselves year around seems like a novel idea to many folks. I'm not saying one way is better or worse than the other. One of the interesting things about raising cattle is that there are so many different ways to do it! Geography and climate have a lot to do with the wide range of systems also.

Jim

edit: by the way I should add "thank you"'s to several regular posters here who have provided some key information to help me get started in this system. Thank you!

MSS, I don't see why putting out several days or a week's hay would increase "waste" as long as you are feeding it in feeders. If laid out on the ground, yes I can see waste. As someone posted here some time ago, without bale feeders, Day 1 the bale = dining room, Day 2 the bale = bedroom, Day 3 the bale = bathroom...

As Iluv points out you also need to know more about the nutrient content of the hay you are feeding. You can put out 3% of their wt a day in very poor CRP hay and they can still starve too! To try to get a better idea of this I just sent in a hay sample for analysis to see what I bought and make sure they are getting enough feed value out of it.
 

msscamp

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SRBeef":1bljz1ud said:
MSS, I don't see why putting out several days or a week's hay would increase "waste" as long as you are feeding it in feeders. If laid out on the ground, yes I can see waste. As someone posted here some time ago, without bale feeders, Day 1 the bale = dining room, Day 2 the bale = bedroom, Day 3 the bale = bathroom...

We used big bale feeders for too long with the weaning calves for me to not know that there is a lot of waste associated with that type of feeding. Cattle are just like any other species of livestock - give them more than one feeding worth of hay at a time, and they will root through it, eat the best parts, and the rest of it ends up on the ground to be trampled into the dirt/crapped on/peed on, or rooted out on the other side of the feedbunk.
 

novatech

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Rationing feed is OK if it is done on a daily basis. Skipping days in between is not good practice. Cattle need a regular diet of what ever it is they eat. The ruminant digestive system contains microbes. One type of microbe is for digesting grass. They are usually much more abundant because that is what the cow has been eating on a daily basis. When supplements are given there are microbes that break down starches. They are are present but not abundant. So they are not able to break down the starches with a great deal of efficiency. With a steady diet of supplements, fed daily, the microbes needed will grow in number to fit the diet. With small amounts of feed at a time this may not be very important. But it is not a good idea to feed a great quantity at any one time until their system has adjusted to the change.
 

Jogeephus

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CanadianCowboy":361vzads said:
thank you all for your reply,

to answer your questions the feed is hay.

So what you guys are saying is if for example i have 30 cows, at 30 x 1000ilbs =30000lbs x3%=900 so for arguement sake lets say 1 bale (at 1500ilbs)with wasted feed in consideration.so if i put 6 bales out it should last me 6 days? is that what you guys are rying to say? :cboy:

Assuming everything is perfect I'd say yes but you best check on them on the 4 or 5th day to see how the hay is holding out. If you simply dump the bales on the ground there will be lots of waste from them playing with the rolls. Also, temperature has a lot to do with hay consumption. But if you have six hay rings it will work a lot better. Better yet a hay cradle. I try to do something similar but I'm limited by the number of hay rings I own.

BTW - I'd like to add that every day that you check on them you will find that everything is perfect but the day that you don't is the day that something will go wrong. Murphey's Law #23
 

grannysoo

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When feeding hay, I normally fill up the rings every 2 to 3 days. I do however, check on them each and every day at least twice per day.
 

novaman

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You can get away feeding them for several days but I don't recommend it. The more often you feed the less hay will be wasted IMO. The cows will clean up what they've been given (assuming they are not given extra). The next day they get just what they need and on and on. If you throw out 6 days worth of hay they are going to do as mss said and mill through it, eating what they want and neglecting the rest. Even with a bale feeder my cows will reach in and pull out a huge wad and drop most of it on the ground outside the feeder. After chewing a bit they go back in and grab another wad. I guess waste would be my concern. If your not concerned about waste then go for it.
 

mwj

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Some of the northern folks have had good luck with bale-grazing which puts several weeks worth of feed out at once. We should not assume that something that did not work for us will not work for anyone else. :cowboy:
 

dun

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We put out 3-5 days worth of ahy at a time IN HAY RINGS. They don;t get anymore till they've cleaned it up. Some times that's a day longer or a day shorter then what we had planned.
 

IluvABbeef

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Jogeephus":zxq799s9 said:
CanadianCowboy":zxq799s9 said:
thank you all for your reply,

to answer your questions the feed is hay.

So what you guys are saying is if for example i have 30 cows, at 30 x 1000ilbs =30000lbs x3%=900 so for arguement sake lets say 1 bale (at 1500ilbs)with wasted feed in consideration.so if i put 6 bales out it should last me 6 days? is that what you guys are rying to say? :cboy:

Assuming everything is perfect I'd say yes but you best check on them on the 4 or 5th day to see how the hay is holding out. If you simply dump the bales on the ground there will be lots of waste from them playing with the rolls. Also, temperature has a lot to do with hay consumption. But if you have six hay rings it will work a lot better. Better yet a hay cradle. I try to do something similar but I'm limited by the number of hay rings I own.

Another thing that varies is individual cows. Each cow has her own rate of intake, and her rate of intake is also coincided with what level she is in the pecking chain. Top cows get the best hay first (and are probably your bigger eaters, but sometimes not), and the bottom ones have to wait their turn; often getting shunted away if the top cows are hungry again. Rate of intake also has to do with her individual weight and maintenance needs, which goes to show you that you can never assume that each and every cow will eat 3% of her body weight: some will only need to eat 2.5% of their body weight; others 4.5%.

Not only pecking order, but what condition your cows are in plays a HUGER role in rate of intake in the winter time. You get thin cows, they're going to eat more to keep their body temperature and energy level where they want it to be. Fat cows will eat less because they don't need as much energy for keeping body temperature because they've got all that fat on their ribs to keep them warm.

That's why using the BCS before winter feeding helps alot to separate which cows will need to be fed more than others. It's better than having to wonder why some cows are staying thin while others are getting fatter when you got them all mixed together.
 
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