Adjust feed management strategies to extend forage supplies
As drought intensifies across much of the country, cattle producers are looking for ways to get the most out of short forage supplies.
Purdue Extension beef specialist Ron Lemenager says producers should adjust their feed management strategies and one area he’s been researching is the impact of feeding time. “We allowed animals to have access for one hour, 2 hours, 4 hours, 8 hours, 12 hours, and 24 hours of access time,” he says. “And taking a look at what that did to intake? What did that do to performance?”
He tells Brownfield his research has found that dry matter intake in an 8-hour time period is on par with 24-hour access. “And the logic here is, is that if you give cows 24 hours a day access to hay, they’re going to look for the chocolate cake in among the Brussels sprouts,” he says. “They do a lot of sorting and you end up with a lot more hay residue outside the bale ring.”
Lemenager, who is based in Indiana, said first cutting hay yields were down anywhere from 10 to 30 percent statewide, but because it is higher quality there were no significant weather delays, allowing producers to reduce feed times even more without negatively impacting performance.
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