Surviving the Next Four Months in Three Steps for Cattle Producers


David Burton, University Of Missouri Extension

via Drovers - December 5, 2018


Beef cattle producers in southwest Missouri and across the country have about four months to manage their forage supply to accommodate their beef cattle's nutrient needs according to Eldon Cole, field specialist in livestock with University of Missouri Extension.


The forage supply may be stockpiled fescue, hay of questionable nutrient content, emergency silage or haylage.


The First Step


"The first step is to collect samples and test the forage especially if it has never been fed before," said Cole.


According to Cole, corn silage is an excellent feed as a rule, but for most cattlemen in this area, it is a new adventure.


The "book value" for corn silage is 30 percent dry matter; 65 to 70 percent total digestible nutrients (TDN) and 7 to 8 percent crude protein. TDN and protein are on a dry matter basis.


"Usually, plain fescue hay is the staple of the winter feed supply," said Cole.


Fescue hay, properly harvested and stored makes decent hay with around 10 percent protein and 53 to 57 percent TDN. However, if mature and headed out when cut, those values can drop to 7 and into the '40s. If stored outside and possibly under trees, its feed value plummets.


"Twenty dollars spent on a forage test is a bargain as you calculate what supplements you need," said Cole.


The Second Step ...


The Third Step ...