Feeding requirements during drought
In the long run it is economical to maintain the present size of your cow herd and feed for high production. Dairy cows need at least 800 pounds of hay or its equivalent each month. This amounts to the cow eating about two percent of her body weight each day as hay. Milking cows need at least 11/2 per cent of their body weight as hay daily or they will have digestive upsets and drop milk fat percentage. Also, cows need 350 pounds of cereal grain for each 1000 pounds of milk they produce. When good quality hay is in short supply, slough hay, cereal hay and in extreme situations, cereal straw, may be used as a substitute. Slough hay may be used as the only forage for dairy cattle. When it is the only forage they receive, the cattle will need about an 18 per cent protein dairy concentrate. A less costly ration based on slough hay consists of 6 to 12 pounds of dehydrated alfalfa pellets, sun cured alfalfa pellets or alfalfa cubes and enough slough hay to add up to 25 pounds of forage a day.
Cereal hay can replace good quality hay entirely. Feed each cow 25 pounds of cereal hay daily.
When cereal straw has to be used to extend hay supplies, feed only 5 to10 pounds a day to milking cows. Use hay or a mixture of hay and dehydrated alfalfa to make up the balance of the forage needed.
You can feed replacement heifers and dry cows lower quality forages such as slough hay, grass hay and weedy hay. You will also have to feed them 5 to 10 pounds of grain and supplement. To be sure you are feeding your dairy herd balanced rations, have samples of the feed analyzed for energy, protein, vitamins and minerals. Seek advice on how to combine the feeds so they provide the proportions of nutrients the animals need.
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This page was last updated on November 16, 2002