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Surviving. The Drought. Background . High Corn Prices Scarce hay supply Drought Heat. Impact on-. Summer Grazing Winter Feed Water Supply Nitrates / Poisonous Plants. What do I do to meet needs when forage quality is not the issue but forage quantity is? DROUGHT!. Assess Situation.

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The Drought

  • High Corn Prices
  • Scarce hay supply
  • Drought
  • Heat
impact on
Impact on-

Summer Grazing

Winter Feed

Water Supply

Nitrates / Poisonous Plants

what do i do to meet needs when forage quality is not the issue but forage quantity is drought
What do I do to meet needs when forage quality is not the issue but forage quantity is?DROUGHT!
assess situation
Assess Situation
  • Inventory Cattle
  • Inventory Feed Supply
  • Do the numbers match?
animal management issues
Animal Management Issues
  • Pregnancy check, cull opens
  • Cull older, lower producing cows
  • Cull problem cows, disposition, arthritic, teat, udder and feet problems.
conduct a feed and animal inventory
Conduct a feed and animal inventory
  • Use ASC-78 as a guide
  • Group animals by their needs
  • Compare how much feed is needed vs what is on hand
allocation of hay to various classes of cattle based on quality
Quality of Hay



Classes of Cattle

Young Calves

Weaned Calves



Bred Heifers

2-year old Cows

Lactating Cows

Mature Cows, last 1/3 of gestation

Mature Bulls

Mature Pregnant Cows, first 2/3 of gestation

Allocation of Hay to Various Classes of Cattle Based on Quality
nutritional quality of forages
Nutritional Quality of Forages

Source: Parish, Jane etal. 2007. Producer Guide to Coping with Drought Conditions

are alternatives available on the farm
Are Alternatives Available on the Farm?
  • Corn that will make little or no grain yield
    • Chop it as silage
    • Do not graze or roll it for hay due to nitrates
  • Soybeans that will not set a bean
    • Graze or roll as hay, prevent bloat if grazing
    • Cut and roll when all leaves are still green
soybeans for hay or silage
Soybeans for Hay or Silage
  • For silage, harvest at R6 stage
  • May need to wilt after cutting
  • Forage beans yield 3-4 tons/ac of DM
  • Grain beans yield 2-3 tons/ac of DM
  • Animals do not like the silage, eat 20% less than corn silage
soybeans for hay or silage1
Soybeans for Hay or Silage
  • Hay may need to be harvested at a little earlier stage
  • Should be conditioned to crush stem or hard to cure
  • If too mature at cutting, will lose bean due to conditioning
  • May have feeding loss of up to 20% due to stem refusal
baling or grazing corn stalks
Baling or Grazing Corn Stalks
  • 120 bu corn = 4 to 5 tons residue/acre
  • Cows consume grain, leaves, husks, cobs, stalks in order
  • 1 acre of stalks = 30 days grazing/cow with mineral, protein supplementation
  • Should be strip grazed
  • Baling leaves much of the best (grain, leaves, husks) in the field
corn stalks
Corn Stalks
  • High Nitrates have been detected
  • Low quality feed
  • Requires protein and energy supplementation
  • Considerable waste in feeding
  • Stores poorly
what can i pay for silage
What can I pay for silage?
  • Based on previous estimate, hay costs $178.31 per cow to winter
  • How many tons of corn silage will it take to winter them?

=> 3.06 tons

  • You can pay $58.27 per ton of corn silage if hay is $125 per ton
Nutrient dense feeds such as grains, commodities, etc., are cheaper per unit of nutrient compared to hay.Be sure and compare on a dry matter basis.
stretch hay with supplement
Stretch Hay with Supplement

Feed the hay on hand and buy supplement

  • Corn will replace hay at the rate of 1.0 lb. Corn can replace 2.0 lb. of hay
economics of corn vs hay to cows
Economics of Corn vs. Hay to Cows

*Corn purchased at $4.90 / bu from feed dealer

**Assumes 130 day winter feeding period

assuming 130 day winter feeding
Assuming 130 Day Winter Feeding
  • Corn based may be cheaper depending on hay / corn price
  • Even if hay is cheaper, what is the goal?
  • Do we want to minimize costs, or maximize profit?
  • What is the value of a 21 lb increase in weaning weight and a 7% increase in conception rate?
value of increased production
Value of Increased Production

*613# @ $100 / cwt, 634# @ $98 / cow

Moisture content

Nutrient profile






soy hulls
Soy Hulls
  • Excellent palatability
  • Less starch content than grains; therefore, less negative effect on forage utilization
  • Safer, less incidence of founder
corn gluten
Corn Gluten
  • By-product of soft drink industry
  • May be wet or dried
  • Corn gluten “feed” is around 22-25% CP; corn gluten meal is about 60% CP
  • Low starch
corn gluten feed
Corn Gluten Feed
  • High level of Sulfur (around 0.6%)
  • Limit to 50% of DMI due to its high sulfur content (Cu deficiency and polio)
  • Transportation costs
  • Equipment needs for handling and storage
  • Rancidity
methods of ensiling
Methods of Ensiling
  • Silo Bags
  • Bunker Silos
  • Covered Piles
advantages of a 70 30 mixture 50 50 dm basis
Advantages of a 70:30 Mixture (50:50 DM basis)
  • Reduces dust in soybean hulls
  • Reduces seepage
  • Decreases CP content to 21%
  • Maintains high energy values
ensiling wdg with crop residues
Ensiling WDG with Crop Residues
  • On farm study
  • Blended corn stalks with MWDG
  • Blend was 60% DM
    • Cool at bag opening
    • Heated quickly

Garcia et al., 2004

  • DM of blends should be no more than 50%
  • Drier blends do not preserve as well
  • Use of WDG over MWDG is preferred
meet the nutritional needs
Meet the nutritional needs

You must maintain body condition

  • Calving
  • Rebreeding
energy deficiencies affect
Energy Deficiencies Affect
  • Cow Rebreeding
  • Calf Health/Survival
  • Calf Growth Rate
timing of deficiency influences effect
Timing of Deficiency Influences Effect
  • Pre-calving deficiency  days of post partum interval
  • Post-calving deficiency  % conception
limit forage consumption
Limit Forage Consumption
  • Supplement Forage
  • Feed in Hay racks
  • Utilize all hay before moving rack
  • Delay feeding by 12 hours after roll eaten
  • Move feeding area to reduce mud
rumensin for wintering cows
Rumensin for Wintering Cows
  • 50 – 60% of total cost is winter feed
  • Prevent and control coccidiosis
  • Improved feed efficiency
  • Feed in 1 lb of feed daily
Cost per day on Purchased Hay

Cost of hay per ton

Disappearance per day

Cost per day on Hulls / HaySubstituting Concept (Late Winter)

Cost per ton of hay

Cost per ton of soy hulls

*Ration: 15 lbs soy hulls, 3 lbs grass hay

Cost per day on Hulls / HayStretching Concept (Late Winter)

Cost per ton of hay

Cost per ton of soy hulls

*Ration: 11 lbs soy hulls, 10 lbs grass hay, w/ protein block

savings from limit hay feeding dry cows
Savings from Limit Hay FeedingDry Cows

* Hay valued @ $125 per ton

early weaning of calves
Early Weaning of Calves
  • Decreases nutrient needs of the cow
  • Cheaper to feed calf than cow
  • Calves as old as 50 days can be weaned
  • Feed conversion 4 to 5 lbs/lb of gain
  • Good health practices
  • Must be able to reach feed and water
sellout now and buy back in spring
Sellout now and buy back in spring?
  • Stock cows averaging near $650 this fall
  • Pairs ranged from $850 to $1,000 last spring
  • Wintering costs – (140 days @ $1.75) = $245
  • Mkt. value + winter feed savings = $850 to $950
  • Considerations
    • Prices for pairs this spring
    • Quality
    • Tax considerations


Consider all alternatives before you pay too much for poor-quality large round hay bales or other sources of roughage.

long term adjustment
Long Term Adjustment
  • Store a surplus of hay (carry-over)
  • Consider some warm season grass pasture
  • Select cattle for reproductive efficiency
  • Calving season