Droughted cows may need high concentrate diets this winter

US - After this summer's drought many cattle producers have had to start feeding hay earlier and, with the recent hay shortage, have had trouble finding enough to last all winter.
calendar icon 31 October 2006
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Producers can, however, successfully winter their cows in drylots on high-concentrate diets and maintain desired body condition scores, says Kansas State University Research and Extension cow-calf specialist Twig Marston.

Feeding a limited but high concentrate diet will require greater monitoring to help avoid problems such as rumen acidosis, a decrease in rumen pH causing diarrhea and decreased feed intake; bloat, a swelling of the rumen that occurs when feed fermentation creates a foamy layer at the top of the rumen, which traps gasses; and founder, an increase in rumen acid production and a decrease in pH, he says.

The amount of forage a cow should consume daily ranges from 0.5% to 0.75% of her body weight. This will equal about 5.0 to 7.5 pounds of dry hay, or 30 to 45 pounds of silage daily.

Producers should provide 2.5 to 3.0 feet of bunk space per animal and make sure the diet is properly mixed and delivered evenly in the bunk, Marston says. This allows all cows to have access to the feed they need to meet their nutritional requirements.

Source: agriculture.com

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