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Advise on winter feeding

Discussion in 'Feeding Time - Cattle (Feed & Forages)' started by Robert Shon, Oct 27, 2016.

  1. Oct 27, 2016
    Robert Shon

    Robert Shon Chillin' with the herd

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    Where to start ? As of next week I'll be housing & feeding 8 head in another COLD Central NY winter.
    I'm looking into feeding about 5# of corn silage per head along with a mix of hay ( timothy/rye/alfalfa) or oat balage while I've still got 15 1000# bales left. Will this work OR do I need to add something to the diet ? Should I do the corn silage twice a day ? I do have mineral blocks out & they seem to use them.
    The herd consist of:
    1-6 yr. old baldy (open)
    1-20 mth old Jersey Heifer (preg)
    1-7 mth old Baldy/Angus heifer
    2-8 mth old Jersey steer calves
    2-5 mth old Jersey Steer
    1-14 mth old Jersey steer
     
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  2. Oct 27, 2016
    Green Acres Farm

    Green Acres Farm True BYH Addict

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  3. Oct 28, 2016
    Latestarter

    Latestarter Novice; "Practicing" Animal Husbandry Golden Herd Member

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    Greetings and welcome! Glad you finally posted! Looks like GAF has already tagged the most commonly tagged folks for cattle issues. Hopefully one or more will be on soon to help you out. Meantime, hope you'll share some pics of your herd with us. Make yourself at home!
     
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  4. Oct 30, 2016
    farmerjan

    farmerjan Herd Master

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    If you are feeding them all together, you will find that the older/bigger animals will eat more of the corn silage than the smaller/younger ones. 5# per head per day is more of a teaser than any great additive, but will be good for their digestion so am not saying not to. Is the silage available and fairly inexpensive? Tha's only about 40# for 8 animals, so won't go far but if it has alot of corn in it, will add a little energy to their diet. I would rather see you put a little extra into the younger animals so they will continue to grow. Maybe giving them a second feeding a day? Just as a reference, and this is a little different deal since they are milking cows, but most dairy farmers feed 50-75 lbs corn silage per cow per day, plus most keep hay in front of them all the time, plus grain or concentrates....We were feeding about 20 lbs per cow/calf beef pair last winter, plus all the hay they could eat and they were cleaning it up.
    You don't say where you are, what kind of winter weather you get and all that will play a big part in what and how much you feed. Sorry, I just realized that you are in NY. Plus what are you planning to do with the jersey steers? I don't know how much attention you pay to the cattle markets in general, but prices have fallen way off from a year ago and a jersey steer is only worth in the $.50 to .60 lb range around here in Va. If you are going to butcher them then that's one thing, but if you are hoping to make money on them I don't think you will and I would not feed them through the winter. I have 2 that weigh 800-900 lbs that will be going to butcher in Jan and 1 that is about 500 that will be next years beef and we have plenty of hay and a fair amount of pasture left for the next couple of months here. But I usually have 4-6 a year that I sell and the market is not there and they are too cheap for me to make back my expenses so will eat them myself and unless my cows have another bull or two, I will not be buying any except to graft onto my nurse cows. Hope this helps a little.
     
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  5. Oct 30, 2016
    WildRoseBeef

    WildRoseBeef Range nerd & bovine enthusiast

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    Oh my. Okay, first of all you have 3 to 4 different types of animals with different feed requirements. Of them, the Baldy cow who is open (is she still lactating, or dried off?), and the Baldy heifer are beef, with (normally) lower nutritional requirements over all than the Jerseys; the cow more so than all the younger animals combined, especially!

    All the Jerseys will need plenty of energy and at least 12 to 16% protein in their diets. The bred heifer and older will need a little less than the Jersey calves. All calves will mostly likely need between 14 and 16% protein. The beef cow probably only needs about 9 to 10% protein because, if my guess is right, if she's at the last end of her lactation OR she's already dried up and the heifer weaned (I'm assuming the baldy heifer is hers), she could get away with less energy than the rest of the group. That assuming she's in good body condition that can be maintained over the winter.

    Now, with that, the cow doesn't need near the amount of silage as the younger cattle. She can do just fine with around 5 lb of silage and free-choice hay. But the other young calves will need more silage than hay, or almost equal parts hay and silage, depending how much of the hay is alfalfa and how good quality it is (Feed test is a MUST). If protein is going to be still deficient (which it can be, no question), then figure in supplementing with something like peas or soybean meal.

    But you must get your feed tested. And get the lab to do Wet Chemistry, not NIR because wet chem is more reliable with reported values.

    Good hay is at least 10% protein and less than 60% NDF; about 60% NDF or higher and yet get hay that is a little better than the quality of straw, especially if protein values get down to 8 or 9%. When TDN values get below 50% I get worried too, because that indicates there's not enough energy to meet animal needs.

    Here's the other thing: With different animal ages you get different requirements based on how much they'll eat and need a day. My estimates are just going to be general, but the main thing to remember is that the only animal in your herd that you could give 5 lb of corn silage to a day is the 6 year old cow.

    The other ones may need more like 10 to 20 lb of corn silage (I'm thinking a little more with the older Jerseys) with 5 to 8 lb of hay. The corn silage will need to be increased by a pound a day or more when animals are cold-stressed, be it from cold rain penetrating their winter coats, muddy lots, a sudden dip in temperature, or increased wind.

    Another tip: Feed mostly in the late afternoon to evening. That way they have a better chance at keeping warm overnight because what's called an "incremental heat production" is an adaptation ruminants have where 4 to 6 hours after eating they'll get a kickstart in heat production from fermentation in their rumens. This will keep them extra toasty warm during the coldest part of the night.

    If and when you do decide get your feed tested, shoot me a PM and let me know the results. I'd be happy to help you figure out a rough ration plan based on those, if you like. :)

    ETA: BTW, what mineral are they getting?
     
    Last edited: Oct 30, 2016
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  6. Nov 1, 2016
    Robert Shon

    Robert Shon Chillin' with the herd

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    OK, I can see I'm in over my head. Thanks for the replys, I can see I've got more work to do.
    The only minerals I've been giving are the 40# blocks. The corn silage is from a local dairy farm & he feeds about 50# per head + hay. My guess at 5#s was just that, a guess as I have NO idea how much they need & neither did he. The couple of local folks that I've talked to that raise beef don't feed anything except hay during the winter. They say I'm wasting money on feed !
    I'm paying $60 Ton for the corn silage while my 18% Dry/Fitting feed runs me $400 for a Ton which is why I decided to switch. The two smaller calves (5mth) are still in a separate enclosure & have been getting calf starter grain @ two 16oz cups twice a day + all the hay they seem to want. My hay is both 1st & 2nd cutting & although it hasn't been tested it smells real good. I'll definitely start feeding my grain in the evening feeding & leave them on just hay or balage during the day. It was 29 here this morning !
    I'm also buying two feed panels with 6 openings each to help slow the bullies down a little at feed time. Right now the Baldy keeps everyone else away until she's done since there aren't any dividers on my 10' troughs so the 8 month old calves don't stand a chance & are living on hay & what clover is left in the pasture which right now isn't very much !
     
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  7. Nov 1, 2016
    Robert Shon

    Robert Shon Chillin' with the herd

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    My hay is free choice & is in a round feeder since all of the "cows" are in the same area. I figured I needed to give my pastures a rest for the winter or they won't be any good in May when I need then again.
     
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  8. Nov 1, 2016
    farmerjan

    farmerjan Herd Master

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    First off welcome to the forums.:welcome I am also fairly new here, but lots of years with cows and all kinds of other livestock.
    You are right about getting the animals off the pastures to give a rest but with the cold weather and freezing temps, you can probably safely let them have the freedom of the pastures til probably feb or so. The grasses will be dormant, and unless it gets muddy, they won't do much damage to the ground and will do any picking/roaming and keep spreading their manure around. You know your weather better than I do, but you want to get them off before it starts to warm up much so that the grass will have a chance to grow. :thumbsup

    WRB gave you alot of info and I am sure she can help with a more defined feeding program; however after raising scores of jerseys, both for milk and steers for beef there are a few things I would suggest. Agreed, they younger animals need a higher protein, 15-18% to keep them growing. I would possibly put a creep gate in fence line where the 2 younger steers are so that they can get in and out. That said, then feed them in their feeder at least once a day and up their grain to about a 2 gallon bucket. For reference, a 5 gallon bucket here will hold approx 20-25 lbs feed (pellets or a sweet-textured feed). So a 2 gal bucket will hold in the neighborhood of 10 lbs. That will be maybe twice what you are feeding them. I would switch from the expensive calf starter to a 14-16% grower or the 18% you have. It's not gonna be cheap to carry dairy breed animals through the winter. That was why I was questioning your keeping the smaller 2 jersey steers at least. And at least a 5 gal bucket of silage per animal.
    Then the beef heifer and the 2 older jersey steers and the bred jersey....probably all them can eat about the same and do okay, I would feed a 5 gal bucket grain to them all, which would be in the neighborhood of 5 lbs each. You don't want the bred jersey to get too fat but with the winter coming, you want her to maintain a fairly good body condition so she can nourish the calf inside and still continue to grow and to be able to come into her milk when she does calve. When is she due? Hopefully not until spring is in the air. Are you going to milk her or raise calves on her? She will need to eat more once she comes into her milk. I also do not believe in rationing feed to bred heifers in order to control the calf size in the last 2 months or so....UNLESS she is bred to something that will throw a big calf.
    Most beef cows can survive with just hay if it is decent. SURVIVE not necessarily thrive..:\:\..Especially if they are already adult, mature animals, bred or not. Dairy animals are a whole different ball game and they do not have the body fat stores on them and it takes more to keep their body heat up. The delayed heat of the rumen starting the fermenting process like Karin mentioned does really help; but dairy breeds just do not have the same fat covering and will eat more than any beef cow and still not hold their weight nearly as well. You don't often see many FAT jerseys.....
    The "piggy" adult baldy...is there a reason why she is open? :hu Again, the cattle markets are way off, would it suit your purposes better to sell her, maybe buy a bred cow back or just winter the younger group and not have to fight her in the feeding area? Is she a pet? (and yes I had a beef cow that was a bully, a pig and a pet and I buried her at about 18 but I cussed her attitude many times...She also was my foundation beef cow and gave me over 12 calves in her lifetime)... Since you are looking at feeding costs, and it sounds like she is getting more than her fair share, maybe she would be the one to take a ride. Or at least keep her separate for feeding. She could probably get by on mostly just hay.
    Smellin good :rolleyes::rolleyes: isn't an indication of how the hay will test, but at least it isn't old and moldy stuff and it sounds like they are eating it good.:) In the absence of any forage testing, if you supplement with grain and some silage it would be likely that you will meet their basic needs for the winter. Yes we feed hay free choice to all our cattle, big rolls 5x6, all winter and we do not test. We moniter the cows pretty close, and they get LOOSE mineral, comes in 50 lb bags, and the bred heifers and the younger weaned heifers get protein tubs that are all natural- NO UREA - that are about 20% protein. 225 or 250 lb big tubs. I feed a little grain, 2-3 times a week, about one - 5 gal bucket for every 5-8 head, 17% stocker pellet that isn't anything too expensive, about 200-225 a ton delivered bulk, but we mostly do that to keep them coming into the bunks so we can check them closely and keep them quiet and friendly. If it is real cold they will get grain every other day or we will feed it on top of the silage if we are feeding that.
    Now have I totally confused you???:gig:barnie:th Or scared you to death?
    We also feed some baleage, we usually make our sorghum/sudan as baleage and the cows LOVE it. This year we made it all as dry hay since when it finally stopped raining we had good weather to make it dry and they like it real well that way too.
    Ask away ....:idunno:idunno
     
  9. Nov 1, 2016
    WildRoseBeef

    WildRoseBeef Range nerd & bovine enthusiast

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    I certainly have some more questions for you Robert:

    Is the baldy cow still lactating? Is the beef heifer weaned?

    Do you also have a feed tag for the blocks?

    Has the dairy farmer done a feed test on the silage, and if he does, would you be able to get it from him?

    For one thing, don't listen to the beef folks. Jerseys aren't beef cattle so no, you are definitely not wasting your money on extra feed. Your Jerseys will need the extra energy that will come from that extra feed because, as Jan said, they don't have the fat cover like beef cattle do. Also, what Jan didn't mention, was that Jerseys have a higher metabolic rate than any beef cattle breed or cross, except Simmentals. What that means is that cattle with a higher metabolic rate eat more feed and need a higher plane of energy than beef cattle do.

    And colder temperatures, plus cold stress, will also increase a bovine's metabolic rate. It's just an adaptation response to keep warm.

    For another thing, the beef cow needs to be separated from the younger stock. I can't tell what body condition score she's in, but if she's being a naughty pig and hogging all the feed, then she's probably at a BSC that is already normal or above normal, and she won't need any extra feed except the hay.

    Do you have a picture of her to share? Preferably one that is a side-view picture, and with the sun behind you.

    I wonder about the beef heifer too. She's still a beef animal and not a dairy one. So that's why I argue that even though she's about the same age as some of the other Jerseys, I fear that if you feed her the same way as those Jerseys she's going to be getting too fat to be able to breed. I was just at a farm where people had said a breeder's heifers were "looking good" but when we did a body condition score evaluation on them they were all at a point where they were at least 100 pounds overweight. For human terms that seems to be really fat, but remember these are bovines, and an excess of 100 pounds of body weight is equal to an extra 20 or 30 pounds to what is considered a normal weight for a human.

    This is a terrific site on information on body condition scoring: http://www.beefresearch.ca/research/body-condition-scoring.cfm

    I also agree that just because hay "smells good" doesn't mean it is good. But, if it smells moldy that's something to watch out for too. But really, I've smelled hay that was in poor quality and hay that was good, and there wasn't much difference in smell. When you look at the leafiness of the hay versus stemmy material, how much legume is in the hay (versus weeds), and the colour (which should be relatively green), you can tell the quality as well. But a feed test is always good to really know how good (or bad) of quality the hay or silage is.

    Agree with Jan on the pastures in the winter. Once the ground is frozen and things stop growing you're not going to do much damage to the ground until time when the frost starts coming out. When that happens, pull them off and keep them off until the grass gets tall enough to graze again.
     
  10. Nov 2, 2016
    Robert Shon

    Robert Shon Chillin' with the herd

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    Rose: Thanks Again !!
    I'll see about getting a couple pictures. My problem with them is that I haven't figured how to transfer them from my phone. I'll figure it out.
    I haven't caught up with the farmer in the last couple of weeks. We're on an honor system & I catch him about once a month. With two farm, a family & a welding business + employees he's far busier than I am so I have to hunt him down to pay. It all works out.
    I don't have the tags from my blocks but today when I was picking up lay mash at the mill they were just unloading several pallets of minerals for bovine so they are on next weeks list. I believe they were under the Purina label.
    I'll keep the "frozen" pastures in mind but for now they are just barely holding their own & it's been wet so I've got MUD to contend with. I hate to say I'm looking forward to winter !!
    The Baldy was lactating but her heifer calf has been off her now for two weeks & they have both stopped calling to each other. Since she's a beef cow friendly isn't part of her personality. She has gotten better since May when I picked her up, at least now when I touch her she doesn't run. As for the heifer calf, she's far larger than the two jersey steers that are the same age. I contributed that to the breed & that she has been on milk & pasture while they were on just pasture. Yea, I know send a picture !
    Separating them at feeding time is going to be a problem as I'm just not set up for that. Right now seven of them are feeding on the hay ring & I can't keep the heifer calf in the horse stall much longer. The horse is starting to get an attitude. LOL That will make eight & still leave me putting the two youngest calves in the barn away from everyone else.