Dale Watson
Commercial Agriculture Beef and Livestock Specialist
University of Missouri Extension




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Please send your comments and sund suggestions to Dale Watson, Commercial Agriculture Beef and Livestock Specialist, University of Missouri Extension, 111 N. Mason, Carrollton, MO 64633, call 660-542-1792, or send messages by e-mail to: watsond@missouri.edu.
For the Week of
November 19, 1998

Determining Your Feed Needs

The weather factor throughout the spring, summer, and fall of 1998 provided both positive and negative circumstances for the beef producer. The extended spring rains imposed numerous detrimental effects on much of the hay harvested in early summer while the abundance of fall rains extended the grazing season.

This season producers need to observe both the quality and quantity of their hay. Basically many producers don't want to comment on either quality or quantity of the hay they have in storage. In fact many producers still are hauling hay in and storing it for the winter. If plastic twine was used the bales will hold together; however, if sessile twine was used we can expect the bales to fall apart and become loose. The looseness will open the bales up for additional moisture to accumulate if temperatures remain above freezing.

We have had excellent conditions for mold development and green growth on top of the large bales that were harvested later in the season. If you by chance baled up sweet clover that contained moisture, close observation is recommended. The accumulation of dicoumarin often times will prevent blood clotting in the newborn and death is frequently the end result soon after birth.

Estimating the amount of forage needed can be a simple matter. Basically the quality of the hay will influence the consumption. Lower quality hay will be consumed in reduced amounts compared to hay of higher quality. A guide that is often used refers to lower quality forage being consumed in the range of 12 to 24 pounds per head per day; the consumption for medium quality hay ranges from 18 to 30 pounds per head per day; and high quality hay will be consumed between 26 and 40 pounds per head per day. Factors affecting the variation within quality depends on the size of the cow, age of the cow, stage of production, weather, body condition and the speed with which the feed passes through the digestive system. Higher quality forage passes through the digestive system at a faster rate compared to forages that contain a higher amount of straw-like material.

The consumption of high quality forage can be reduced by limiting the intake and providing lower quality forage free choice. An example of this would be alfalfa hay that has a protein value of 16% or greater and a TDN value of 60%. A dry cow with a body condition score of 5 or 6 (on a 1 through 9 scale) would consume more of this type forage than is needed to meet her daily requirement. A cow in thin condition may actually need this type of forage to gain body condition for the winter and spring calving season.

University of Missouri ExtensionDale's Country Trails - November 19, 1998
http://outreach.missouri.edu/agconnection/DCT/CT111998.html -- Revised: April 20, 2004