Solving Winter Beef Cow Feeding Problems

Russ Bredahl, beef forage field specialist
Roger Brummett, livestock field specialist,


The long period of hot, dry weather that extended through the summer and into the fall of 2003 severely reduced the tonnage of hay produced in southwest Iowa. Faced with a short supply of winter feed for beef cattle, many farmers harvested corn residues and other low quality feeds. Such feeds alone would not supply the nutrients needed by spring-calving cows during late gestation and early lactation. Cow/calf producers needed information on how to stretch limited supplies of hay and supplement poor quality feedstuffs.


Forage testing campaigns were initiated in Adair, Decatur, Fremont, Page, Taylor and Union counties. Follow-up meetings were held in Fremont, Page, Taylor and Union counties to help participants interpret their test results and use the results to formulate rations for their herds.

The new Beef Ration and Nutrition Decisions Software (BRANDS) was used to formulate rations using the forage test results. The software was also used to demonstrate ways of stretching limited hay supplies by feeding groups of cattle with different nutritional requirements separately and by substituting silage, by-products, or grain for hay.


Page last updated: July 8, 2006
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