When you buy hay, choose well. In order to understand the nutritional need of your cattle you need to have some knowledge about forage quality and ruminant nutrition. Warm-season perennial grass provides good grazing from April through June and again from July through … For pasture-fed animals, the grass is the forage that composes most of their diet. First off, you will need to assess your cattle’s nutritional needs. The quality of the hay needed will also depend on whether you are feeding mature beef cattle, young calves, or dairy cattle. Cattle can generally tolerate dustier hay than can horses, and can often eat a little mold without problems. Nutritional Needs. Keep in mind, however, that some types of mold may cause abortion in pregnant cows. For beef cattle, Timothy has been known to enhance beef flavor, and is fed to world popular wagyu and Kobe cattle in Japan. Most cattle in the United States have a diet that is composed of at least some type of forage such as grass, vegetables, or silage. You can enter numbers for the hay you are considering, and it will give you the best value hay, not just the lowest cost hay. Alfalfa (green or fed as hay) is better for calves, younger cattle, or dairy and pregnant cows in late gestation. Nebraska has an online tool called the Feed Cost Cow-Q-Lator. 3. Cattle fed hay with moldy sweet clover could be consuming the toxin dicoumarol. Hay containing greater than 10 parts per million of dicoumarol should be fed with caution. Recent analyses show that 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. Most of these mixes are designed for the cow/calf producer and those raising stocker cattle or dairy heifers. Compare the requirements of the beef cattle with the nutrient content of the hay. Back to our 1,100# beef cow: after we gave her the calculated 24.2# of average quality grass hay, free choice water and free choice trace mineral salt each day, we would monitor her for evidence that her nutritional requirements were being met (see inset box). Either mid-bloom alfalfa or grass hay provides an adequate level of the nutrients. Maximizing forage quality Feeding hay to cattle is expensive. Be aware that it can cause bloat when grazed by livestock and purchase improved varieties with good winter hardiness, disease and potato leafhopper resistance. The beef pasture mixes are designed not only for good animal performance but also solid agronomics. For example, a mature beef cow in the mid trimester of pregnancy requires about 7 percent crude protein and 48.8 percent TDN. Actually, most beef cattle are raised on pasture from their birth in the spring and until autumn, which means seven to nine months. Unfortunately it doesn’t take much dicourmarol to cause a problem. Cornstalks are considered forage if they don’t contain grain. Good-quality hay, silage, or haylage meet supplement criteria for grass-fed beef. All cattle are susceptible, but younger cattle seem to be more susceptible than mature cows. Grass-fed cattle are held to high standards of feed and care, and the meat from these cattle is known to be tender, firm, with good marbling and a unique flavor. Hay for Cattle. While the nutritional value of hay for beef cattle isn’t as crucial as dairy, it is still something for producers to think about, especially pre-calving and while nursing a calf. Simply put, what to feed Angus beef cattle for optimum growth is so much more than a bale of hay. Ohio BEEF Cattle Letter. Hay Analysis Guide for Beef Cattle Amy Radunz, UW Extension Beef Cattle Extension Specialist Gene Schriefer, Iowa County Extension Ag Agent Winter feed costs typcially represent the largest portion of cow/calf expenses. 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