Winter Feeding Beef Cows

Steve Boyles, OSU Beef Extension Specialist

The goal is to have a winter feeding program meets the cow’s requirements and is economical. There is a biological priority for nutrients.  The needs for maintenance, growth and milk production must be met before we can optimize reproduction.

The period from approximately 60 to 90 days prior to calving is affects the calf and the subsequent reproductive performance. Fetal growth is at its maximum and fat stores will be used for lactation.  Nutrition during this time also affect colostrums quality. Underfeeding during this time period include:

  1. Lighter calf birth weights (although calving difficulty won’t be reduced).
  2. Lower calf survival.
  3. Lower milk production and calf growth.
  4. A longer period for cattle coming back into heat.

Cold Temperatures:  The only adjustment in cow rations necessitated by weather is to increase maintenance energy. Protein, mineral and vitamin requirements are not Continue reading

Managing Cattle Through Winter Weather Conditions

– Warren Rusche, South Dakota State University Extension Beef Feedlot Management Associate

Winter weather conditions often present challenges to cattle managers in the Northern Plains (and upper Midwest). Although we can’t alter the weather, there are management steps that can be taken to help maintain cattle health and performance.

Bedding: Providing bedding is the most useful tool to improve cattle comfort, especially in outside yards. Bedding helps cattle preserve body heat and mitigate the negative effects of cold stress on maintenance energy requirements.

Feeders should consider bedding sooner rather than later when extreme cold weather is expected. Waiting until cattle are exhausted before providing bedding results in calves simply “resting up” on the bed pack instead of maintaining dietary intake. This could result in diminished Continue reading

Feeding Management to Minimize Hay Waste

Stephen Boyles, OSU Extension Beef Specialist

Feeding hay to cattle is expensive. Hay costs between $0.02 and $0.07 per pound of dry matter; usually more than double the cost for the same amount of nutrients from pasture. Hay is expensive because (1) it requires a large investment in equipment, (2) it requires labor to make and feed, and (3) more than 50 percent of it is wasted by either poor storage methods or improper feeding practices.  This article focuses on the last of these expenses — losses associated with feeding hay.

You wouldn’t dream of throwing away one-third of your hay.  That is what happens, though, when livestock are allowed unlimited access to hay.  Livestock trample and waste 25 to 45 percent of the hay when it is fed with Continue reading

The Winter of Mud: Consequences of the Wettest Year on Record

– Michelle Arnold, DVM, Ruminant Extension Veterinarian, UKVDL

Record rainfall in 2018 has had major impacts on cattle health in KY. Despite relatively mild temperatures this winter, submissions at the UKVDL and telephone conversations with veterinarians and producers confirm cattle are losing body condition and some are dying of malnutrition. The very prolonged cloudy, wet weather with regular bouts of rain has resulted in muddy conditions that require substantially more energy in feeds just to maintain body heat. In addition, the hay quality is exceptionally poor this year as much of it was cut very ripe (late stage of maturity), rained on while curing, and baled with enough moisture to support mold growth. Many cows presented to the laboratory for necropsy (an animal “autopsy”) revealed a total absence of fat and few, if any, other problems. This indicates winter feeding programs on many farms this year are not adequate to support cattle, especially cows in late pregnancy or early lactation, or their newborn calves, even though bitter cold has not been a factor.

The body of the animal has several defenses against cold. The first is the hair coat which grows longer in winter and offers considerable help in conserving heat and repelling cold. Under winter conditions, if an animal’s coat cover is wet and muddy, then energy requirements for maintenance can easily double, particularly if the animal is not protected from the wind. Energy from intake of hay that is adequate for maintenance in normal years is falling far short of the requirement this year. Cold conditions are not too difficult for cattle but when rain and wind are added, heat loss is multiplied several times by the effects of conduction and evaporation. Under these circumstances the “wind chill factor” referred to by the weatherman has real meaning to Continue reading

Beef AG NEWS Today, the January Podcast; Cow Stress, and Addressing the Nutritional Concerns

In this month’s podcast of Beef AG NEWS Today, show host Duane Rigsby visits with OSU Extension Beef Coordinator John Grimes about the weather related stress cows have been under, and addressing the resulting nutritional concerns. That conversation evolves into a preview of the 2019 Ohio Beef School being hosted in several Ohio counties on February 5.

Feedlot Management Mistakes that Can be Prevented

Regardless if you’re a “beginner” or an experienced cattle feeder, this recent one hour presentation by Dr. Francis Fluharty provides a comprehensive and fast moving overview of the basics of feedlot management. Many of you will remember Dr. Fluharty as the recently retired Research Professor in the OSU Department of animal Sciences, and currently the Head of the Department of Animal and Dairy Science at the University of Georgia.

Feeding Raw Whole Soybeans to Beef Cattle

– Ruth Correll, UT Extension-TSU Cooperative Extension Agent, Wilson County

Soybean harvest in Wilson County was hit and miss this fall. Rainy weather prevented timely harvest. Some beans remain in the field and may not make the grade at grain elevators when harvested.

This leaves the dilemma of what to do with these beans to try and recover some of the costs of production. There is potential for feeding these beans to beef cattle but certain precautions should be followed.

Whole soybeans are usually processed by cooking. Unprocessed soybeans have several enzymes that can make them potentially a risk. Whole raw soybeans should never be fed to monogastrics such as horses and swine or young calves less than 300 pounds.

One of the risks is raw soybeans contain Continue reading

Moldy Feed and the Potential Effects on Cattle

– Michelle Arnold, DVM (Ruminant Extension Veterinarian, UKVDL)

Record-setting rainfall in 2018 has resulted in moldy hay and feed throughout the Commonwealth. Many questions regarding the safety of these feedstuffs and how to test them have come to the UK Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory (UKVDL) as producers begin to feed these moldy products. While mycotoxins (mold poisons) are the main concern, molds themselves can adversely affect health and productivity of cattle. Ingestion of moldy feed or hay can potentially cause mycotic (fungal) abortion, respiratory effects, decreased feed consumption and rate of gain, and digestive problems. Additionally, molds can have effects on humans that handle the moldy feed. A wide variety of mycotoxins, not all of which can be tested for, can be produced in moldy feeds and hay under the right conditions, and ingestion of sufficient amounts of various mycotoxins can result in a large array of clinical effects. Testing is recommended but proper sample collection is crucial as samples must be representative of the whole field, cutting or batch. Although there is no foolproof approach to avoiding health effects, a practical approach involves testing suspect feeds in the ration, avoiding moldy feed if possible, and dilute with clean feed to minimize effects.

The presence of considerable mold in hay is a fairly common occurrence but when is too much mold a problem? Several laboratories have the ability to run mold spore counts (reported in mold spore count per gram) to help quantify the extent of mold present. Recommendations from Penn State Extension (https://extension.psu.edu/mold-and-mycotoxin-problems-in-livestock-feeding) regarding feed risks with various mold counts are presented in Table 1. Generally, moldy hay is Continue reading

Managing in Mud

Stan Smith, OSU Extension PA, Fairfield County

Trudging through mud that’s only dew claw deep can reduce animal performance by as much as 7%

As most of Ohio quickly approaches the record for the wettest year in history, cattlemen continue to deal with the ramifications caused when it gets wet in February, stays wet throughout the spring, and summer, and continues wet into winter. The result is more than just a forage quality issue . . . it results in MUD! Whatever happened to the adage, “One extreme follows another.” We’ve certainly got to be due for a stretch of “extremely dry!”

While mud is, at best, an inconvenience when it comes to managing most any aspect of a farm – especially a beef cattle farm – it also can easily evolve into a livestock health and nutrition issue. In an article on Feedlot Mud Management that OSU Extension Specialist Steve Boyles published here a few years ago he suggests that Continue reading