Hay and Feed 2/22/2014

No calves born today. My husband and I fixed a windmill and trimmed some cow hooves. Sometimes our cows will get lame and the cause is usually an over grown hoof. Since there isn’t much to blog about today, I’ll share a little about the feed we use.

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In the winter, all our cattle get hay that was cut and baled during the summer. The hay comes from our meadows and can vary in quality. When we line up bales in the hay yard, we try to group the hay by quality. Heifers and older cows get higher quality hay than the general herd. Horses get the highest quality hay. When it’s cold, one would imagine we feed better hay, but because cold weather is usually accompanied by moisture, a lot of the hay tends to go to waste. Cattle want to eat as much as they can in cold weather so we feed them the lower quality hay because they’ll eat it and not waste any good hay. Cattle will also eat any hay they get into that you don’t want them to eat, it’s just ranching law.

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Every other day we feed our cattle cake (heifers get it everyday). This supplements the protein in their diet and feeds the rumen. Essentially, the idea is to feed the bacteria that aids in digesting their hay, allowing them to eat more hay, allowing them to digest more nutrients, allowing them a better BCS (body conditioning score). Cake can come in different types, typically our cake is composed of the by products of cottonseed processing and pressurized into a hard, tubular form to feed. More information can be found on the National Cottonseed Products Association site. They also make cake from distillers grain ( by product of ethanol production), and oddly enough, chicken feathers. For more information on feeding the rumen, refer to the following link:

Canadian Cattlemen, Feed the Rumen First

Our heifers get cake every day and our young replacement heifers get started on cake at about a year old.

Speaking of replacements, ours are started on wheat midds (middlings) after weaning. Wheat midds are a byproduct of wheat milling (surprise!).

The cattle also get a mixture of salt and mineral. The mineral is specially formulated for our area to make up for the nutrients our soils lack.

Maybe you’ve realized how much cattle feed is made through the by products of crop production that would otherwise be waste. This shows how well different areas of agriculture work with each other.

Maybe tomorrow I’ll have more to talk about, calving hasn’t really picked up its pace yet. But until then, enjoy this cow who was sticking her head in the cake truck window in search of a treat.

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One thought on “Hay and Feed 2/22/2014

  1. Pingback: How Now Brown Cow – Copper and Calving | Calving2014

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