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Our Feeding Situation

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randiliana

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This is how we are feeding our cows this year. With the cost of hay, we had to work in a bunch of straw. So the cows are getting about 40% alfalfa hay, 40% barley straw and 20% kochia/barley. They are also getting promolas as a protien supplement.

The alfalfa is costing us $.05/lb, the barley straw is $.0325/lb and the kochia also about $.0325/ lb. Depending on how long the pile lasts (hopefully about 50 days), it will be costing us about $1.18/cow per day. To feed hay would have cost us about $1.50/cow/day. Then, we will bring them home and will tubgrind a bunch more of the same stuff, although we may add in more hay as we will be getting near/into calving by then.
 

c farmer

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If the alfalfa is only costing 2 cents a lb more would it not be worth the little extra money and feed value to not feed straw.
 
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randiliana

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c farmer":1m2qj9ci said:
If the alfalfa is only costing 2 cents a lb more would it not be worth the little extra money and feed value to not feed straw.

Nope, first off, we feed for approx 180 days. The cows get 30 lbs/cow/day. To feed straight alfalfa, would cost me an extra $0.30/day, that adds up to an extra $54 per winter. To feed 90 cows straight alfalfa all winter would cost us and extra $4860 for the winter. By feeding straw, it will cost us about $392 (in feed) to keep a cow for the year. Add that $54 to that and you are at $446. Right now, heifer calves are in the $.85- $.90/lb range regardless of weight, a 500 lb heifer is only bringing you $450. Steers are only slightly better than that. So for me to scrape by corners have to be cut, and this is one corner (if cut correctly) that won't harm the cow.

The alfalfa has about 14%-16% protien, which is 5% -8% more than what they need to maintain themselves.

Here is the situation we were dealing with. We had approx 170 cows and bred heifers. To feed that many cows we needed about 460 tons of hay. We had 275 tons. We would have had to buy 185 tons, at $100/ton, that works out to $18,500. We did not have that much $$, no bank was going to lend us that, and I would not have wanted to borrow money to buy hay. So, we sold 80 cows/heifers. Decided that rather than buying 185 tons, we would instead sell some hay and turn around and buy enough straw to get the remaing 90 cows, and whatever heifers we wanted to keep through the winter and, maybe bring in a little $ to pay a few more bills.

So far, we have sold 98 ton @ $100/ton = $9800. And bought back 68 ton of straw @ $65/ton = $4420, and are planning on bringing in 24 ton of pea bales @$80/ton =$1920 for a grand total of $6340. Which leaves us enough $ to either buy more feed if we need it, or pay some much overdue bills!!
 

S B Knap

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Kinda off topic but are those sections of concrete with post set in them or are they planks of wood? Do you shovel the hay down or let them eat up to the pile then move the fence closer? Is there significant extra waste with the hay being piled outside? 20 questions I guess. Thanks Scott
 
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randiliana

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S B Knap":2pkd0f08 said:
Kinda off topic but are those sections of concrete with post set in them or are they planks of wood? Do you shovel the hay down or let them eat up to the pile then move the fence closer? Is there significant extra waste with the hay being piled outside? 20 questions I guess. Thanks Scott

They are planks of wood. They came out of a bridge that is being rebuilt, and measure 6" x 18" x 20 feet long.

Both, they eat the hay up to the pile, and then we will either fork it up or if it is getting a ways away from the bunk we will push the timbers up. You can see in the pictures where they were sitting this morning before we pushed them up.

We don't have any significant extra waste with the hay being piled outside, especially in winter. It won't get wet with below freezing temps. The only way we would lose much is if we got a very strong wind, and now that the pile has settled it would have to be a bad one, or if the cows get in to the pile for a long period of time.
 

Bez+

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Still trying to get back to even.
randiliana

Straw is a great feed supplement if done right, and even better if heavy with chaff - I always figured it should be in everyones feed plan.

It is nice to actually see someone work a calculator and a pencil and KNOW that two pennies makes a huge difference to the bottom line - and is prepared with a fast "Nope". Tells me you have done your homework! Something most do not do.

Also, you know as well as I, that it is not unusual in your part of the world to feed for more than 180 days!

You'll do fine

Regards

Bez+


A big P.S. to others - Straw is a valuable feed and there is a tonne of info on this site about it and how to use it. It seems to me that most here fall into the "more protein the better" trap - which also increases costs and decreases profit. I believe there are a lot of folks on this board that feed so much that it gets
p!ssed out on the ground.

Store straw whenever you can get it. Cows like it best after two to three years old. And when hay is not to be found you are not in a jam.

b
 

Alberta farmer

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randialina: Seems like you have done some number crunching and come up with a good solution. I wonder if you have included the tub grinding cost in the price of straw/hay/kochia?
It seems to me your straw price is pretty costly?
It is pretty sad to see good cows going down the road because of this poor cattle situation, but the market is what it is and we need to do whatever it takes to survive. Hopefully next year things will improve.
I also would like to ask what you will be doing with the extra pasture you will now have seeing as how you sold half your herd? Do you intend to break it up and crop it? Is it suitable land?
I ask because I am considering breaking up some land and decreasing my cow herd. In my area they are going to build a huge bio deisel/ethanol plant and it might make more sense to grow canola or wheat. Of course this plant might supply a good source of cheap feed, so am weighing all my options.
 

1982vett

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Alberta farmer":353hh0a9 said:
randialina: ...Do you intend to break it up and crop it? Is it suitable land?
I ask because I am considering breaking up some land and decreasing my cow herd...
Don't mean to step in front of you answer randialina, but breaking up suitable land is not the answer when the problem is rain. Lack of timely rain has been the problem here for the last several years. Quantity of rain has been the problem this past year.
 

Brute 23

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randiliana":1ui9t0it said:
c farmer":1ui9t0it said:
If the alfalfa is only costing 2 cents a lb more would it not be worth the little extra money and feed value to not feed straw.

Nope, first off, we feed for approx 180 days. The cows get 30 lbs/cow/day.


IF you were feeding better quality (higher protien) of feed you would feed less of it, Correct? Might only need #20? Try calulating how much it cost for x-amount of protien. See if it is still the better route.

For Example, Some times I come out better by paying $28 a bag for dog food than a $20 bag because I only have to feed 1 cup/ day of the $28 bag to keep the dogs in shape as opposed to 1 1/2 cups of the $20 bag.

OR, paying $230 for a tire you get 60K out of as apposed to $210 for a tire you get 40K out of.
 

TexasBred

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Brute 23":12cclp9w said:
randiliana":12cclp9w said:
c farmer":12cclp9w said:
If the alfalfa is only costing 2 cents a lb more would it not be worth the little extra money and feed value to not feed straw.

Nope, first off, we feed for approx 180 days. The cows get 30 lbs/cow/day.


IF you were feeding better quality (higher protien) of feed you would feed less of it, Correct? Might only need #20? Try calulating how much it cost for x-amount of protien. See if it is still the better route.

For Example, Some times I come out better by paying $28 a bag for dog food than a $20 bag because I only have to feed 1 cup/ day of the $28 bag to keep the dogs in shape as opposed to 1 1/2 cups of the $20 bag.

OR, paying $230 for a tire you get 60K out of as apposed to $210 for a tire you get 40K out of.

:clap: :clap: :clap: :clap:
 
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randiliana

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Thank you Bez+

Alberta Farmer, we won't be breaking the land up. Most likely we will just reduce our stocking rates for the next year or so, or perhaps rent some out or buy some yearlings. We ended up keeping a bunch more calves than we planned on so they may go out there if we don't market them in the early spring. Neither DH or I are 'farmers' and the land is all sand or alkalai so not really worth breaking up and risking erosion with. Plus, we have had a couple pretty dry years and it won't hurt to let it rest a bit.


Brute, the problem with what you are saying is that our winters tend to be COLD. While we could likely feed less and still keep the protien level high enough, it isn't protien that keeps a cow warm in -30 to -40 weather it is energy that keeps them warm. By decreasing the amount of feed you are feeding to reduce the protien levels, you are also reducing the amount of energy that you are feeding. Do that and the cow starts to use her body fat coverage to keep warm. Body fat, hair coat and skin are what insulate the cow against cold weather. As well, the fermentation process produces heat, and reducing the amount of feed will reduce the length of the fermentation process.
 

TexasBred

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Not a lot of energy in "straw". Depends on what kind of straw you're feeding. It will produce some heat during the digestion process but the old cow will burn about as many calories chewing and digesting as she will get out of it. But at least she'll be full.
 
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randiliana

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TexasBred":2tfrttv7 said:
Not a lot of energy in "straw". Depends on what kind of straw you're feeding. It will produce some heat during the digestion process but the old cow will burn about as many calories chewing and digesting as she will get out of it. But at least she'll be full.

No, there isn't much energy in straw, but there is more energy in it than if we were to simply reduce the ration by 10 lbs. The straw we are using is Barley straw, and it does have some grain left in it. As well ,we are feeding the Kochia/Barley bales and there was definitely barley in that.

One thing about it, we feed for 180 days, it doesn't take long to figure out what works, and what doesn't. Energy is not usually a big problem, but keeping the protien levels where they need to be can be a problem.
 

Brute 23

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randiliana":1lxwa6fh said:
TexasBred":1lxwa6fh said:
Not a lot of energy in "straw". Depends on what kind of straw you're feeding. It will produce some heat during the digestion process but the old cow will burn about as many calories chewing and digesting as she will get out of it. But at least she'll be full.

No, there isn't much energy in straw, but there is more energy in it than if we were to simply reduce the ration by 10 lbs.

Your not just cutting the ration by #10, you have to raise the protein/ lb. Not sure if it will pay in you situation or not, but as I understand it... it is how you should calculate feeding animals.
 

Angus Cowman

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I feel for you having to feed 180 days or more I feed an average of 90-100 days a yr and some yrs don't feed that so far have not had to feed yet and unless we get snow or ice I wont feed til febuary becasue of my supply of grass this yr on avg I figure 1 bale of hay pr month and figure 150 days so I always have plenty of hay

I also run #s on everything and if everyone did they would be alot better off.
I am gonna feed some protein tubs this yr to help utilize the grass I got, if my cows were dry or spring calvers I wouldn't be doing that and my older cows look all right but my first calf hfrs need a lil more and they all have 250-300lb calves on them now

Goodluck
 

Alberta farmer

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Angus cowman: Just wondering what you are paying for the protein tubs? I bought a tub last week for a few calves I've got weaned. I paid $89.95(Canadian $) for a 110 Kg. tub (25% protein). Or in other words 240 lbs. for $72 USA dollar?
 

mnmtranching

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We have a 210 feeding season here. I would say for sure in a cold climate cows need to fill. I seldom feed straw, we have to truck it in and it ends up costing to much. I will do the poorer grass hay with corn silage and a little protein. 30% tubs and a little Alfalfa, haven't put a pencil to it but, I'm still in the cattle business. :cowboy: Cows Winter real well and have good vigorous early calves.
 
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randiliana

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mnmtranching":hxbn6z4o said:
We have a 210 feeding season here. I would say for sure in a cold climate cows need to fill. I seldom feed straw, we have to truck it in and it ends up costing to much. I will do the poorer grass hay with corn silage and a little protein. 30% tubs and a little Alfalfa, haven't put a pencil to it but, I'm still in the cattle business. :cowboy: Cows Winter real well and have good vigorous early calves.

We don't usually feed straw here either, but with $100/ton hay and $5/mile trucking the straw was a little more affordable this year. The hay we do have was put up good so we could afford to bring in something cheaper. Even poorer quality hay is worth $85-$90/ton.
 

TexasBred

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randiliana":2wvcyujm said:
TexasBred":2wvcyujm said:
Not a lot of energy in "straw". Depends on what kind of straw you're feeding. It will produce some heat during the digestion process but the old cow will burn about as many calories chewing and digesting as she will get out of it. But at least she'll be full.

No, there isn't much energy in straw, but there is more energy in it than if we were to simply reduce the ration by 10 lbs. The straw we are using is Barley straw, and it does have some grain left in it. As well ,we are feeding the Kochia/Barley bales and there was definitely barley in that.

One thing about it, we feed for 180 days, it doesn't take long to figure out what works, and what doesn't. Energy is not usually a big problem, but keeping the protien levels where they need to be can be a problem.

In the case where protein was my main concern I'd probably spend a bit more and get a higher quality alfalfa which would allow you to cut the alfalfa a bit and increase the straw...16-17% alfalfa is pretty "low grade" stuff.
 
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randiliana

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TexasBred":2otkjm7a said:
In the case where protein was my main concern I'd probably spend a bit more and get a higher quality alfalfa which would allow you to cut the alfalfa a bit and increase the straw...16-17% alfalfa is pretty "low grade" stuff.

Well, one thing you must consider is where we live vs where you live. Our frost free season is from about mid May to sometime in Sept. We get 1 cutting out of our hay. 14%-17% alfalfa is pretty much the norm. We don't get the rainfall generally to even consider a second cut, and if you do take a second cutting you run a pretty good risk of winter kill on your alfalfa.

All the hay we have, we put up ourselves. I cannot afford to buy even the low grade stuff, let alone consider buying second cut alfalfa.
 
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