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Commodity mix alternative

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FourSquareFarm

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Looking for input regarding winter feeding my cow calf pairs. I have a small herd of 25 mama cows. I feed hay but would like to supplement with something that keeps weight on over winter without stressing them. I have used commodity mix and 3way from my local southern states but it seems to cause loose stools. I saw a post about millings being fine and not good for their GI tract due to fungal burden. So what is the alternative besides just hay. I have to purchase our hay which is also expensive. Thanks in advance for your thoughts.
 

Stocker Steve

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I have used commodity mix and 3way from my local southern states but it seems to cause loose stools.
Probably too much protein, caused by too much supplement per day.

Should not need to supplement expensive hay. Can you buy inexpensive straw or corn stock bales? Fescue stockpile?

Here we use DDG for a protein supplement. Not much cotton grown in Minnesota.
 
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FourSquareFarm

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Probably too much protein, caused by too much supplement per day.

Should not need to supplement expensive hay. Can you buy inexpensive straw or corn stock bales? Fescue stockpile?

Here we use DDG for a protein supplement. Not much cotton grown in Minnesota.
I have never used corn stock bales, but I saw some for sale. Do you have to grind those, or can you just roll them out?
I don't have stockpiled fescue, but that is one if my goals for next year. Also how many pounds per day per head do you feed for average hay?
 

sstterry

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Reach out to @kenny thomas and @jltrent. They can tell you what is best and available in your area. If you have good hay (get it tested) you should not need much supplement. But an easy (and expensive) solution is Lick tubs.

Pounds per day is tricky depending on waste. I think that with a lactating cow it is estimated at approximately 2.5% of body weight per day. To me, that is a little high and I shoot for between 28-30lb per day, more if it is extremely cold or wet.
 

pricefarm

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Looking for input regarding winter feeding my cow calf pairs. I have a small herd of 25 mama cows. I feed hay but would like to supplement with something that keeps weight on over winter without stressing them. I have used commodity mix and 3way from my local southern states but it seems to cause loose stools. I saw a post about millings being fine and not good for their GI tract due to fungal burden. So what is the alternative besides just hay. I have to purchase our hay which is also expensive. Thanks in advance for your thoughts.
I usually only feed DDGS to my cows in the winter. I grow all my on hay and usually it is pretty good. I feed the cows 4 pounds of ddgs per head every other day. Sometimes everyday if the weather is really cold.
 

Stocker Steve

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I have never used corn stock bales, but I saw some for sale. Do you have to grind those, or can you just roll them out?
A couple problems with course forage is the cows don't like picking at it though a bale ring, and the waste goes up regardless of how you feed it.

I don't have a TMR - - so I leave 3 to 4 wraps of twine on the middle of the bale to hold some shape and skip the bale ring. Then when the bale is mostly gone I will shake 2 to 4 gallons of DDG mix on it.
 
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FourSquareFarm

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Sorry. 3+ hours east of me. Can't help with supplies for that area. But your weather is very close to mine and my cows get no additional feed except stockpile fescue and then hay.
Sounds good. I am planning on stockpiling a field next fall for next winter. Thanks for the input.
 

WFfarm

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We have about the same sized herd, 30 mommas and two bulls thru winter. Ours get mostly just good hay. I would say our winters in NY are longer and colder than what you have. We try for early cut hay to get higher protein levels. We've never had our hay tested, but they seams to hold their condition thru the winter and into spring calving. We feed some baleage thru late fall after weaning to put some weight on them and add in some second cutting alfalfa mix hay during the cold winter months. We also supplement ear corn a couple times a week in the winter. Probably not enough corn to make a big difference, but it's a hand fed treat for them and keeps them trained to come when you call them and keeps them friendly. We keep performance data, and keep replacements and cull underperformers, so cows are selected that produce on our program.
 

Lee VanRoss

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Totally agree with keeping cows in good condition. If you are feeding free choice . ie. continual access, you might consider the actual time
the the supplemental feed is available to them. If it is so you can give them access to the supplemental feed for no more than a half an hour a
day they should straighten out. The third trimester is critical if you want them in condition to breed back. Facilities and time will be a factor.
Have a profitable year!
 

Muletrack

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It's hard to answer because we don't know the quality of the hay you are feeding. Up here, in cold, frozen (often below zero) North Dakota, we like to feed a good alfalfa/grass mix and nothing else besides mineral. A spring calving cow can lose a little weight in the winter -- that's perfectly normal. One of the most convenient protein supplements is range cake (cubes). I use it in the late fall to make my cows follow me around instead of running in the opposite direction. Although there is plenty of DDGS (Dried Distillers Grains plus Solubles) in the area, it is not conveniently fed, especially for a small herd -- probably best to just feed whole corn. Bottom line, feed good hay, because a cow is a ruminant, not a pig in a cow suit.
 

Muletrack

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Walt Davis' book, How Not To Go Broke Ranching, is a great resource. I like this line especially, "I never met a salesman who didn't think you needed what he was selling." Select for a cow that will maintain winter weight on what you've got on hand to feed her. We call those cows "easy keepers." I fall calve in the frozen north, so I know what it's like to have calves sucking in January, etc., and I do not creep feed the calves. I do, however, provide a creep hay area so the babies can get plenty of good grass hay without having to compete with their mamas.
 

snoopdog

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We generally only feed hay, but do use cubes for working/ following. If we have some sorry hay and don't need to get them up, we'll use tubs.
 

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