Feeding Grass Hay To Beef Cows
By Bruce Anderson, University of Nebraska
Farmers and ranchers often tell me their prairie, cane,
or other grass hay looked really good, but the relative feed value (RFV)
was surprisingly low. Protein was good, TDN was okay, and the animals
did just fine. So what's wrong with relative feed value?
Actually, nothing is wrong. But we must understand how RFV is calculated
and how it should be used. First, it is calculated using only fiber
values. Even though protein certainly affects the value of hay, it is
not part of the RFV calculation.
Initially developed for the dairy industry, RFV was designed to help
rank the potential energy intake of different hays by lactating dairy
cows. And it does this quite well, especially for legumes like alfalfa.
Grass hay, though, is more difficult. Grass has more fiber than alfalfa,
which lowers its RFV. Yet that fiber often is more digestible than
RFV also doesn't predict performance by other types of animals, such as
beef cows, as well. That's because potential energy intake doesn't have
as much influence on their performance.
What this basically means is that when you feed grass hay to animals
other than dairy cows, focus on crude protein and TDN. The RFV is much
less important and could cause you to worry more than it's worth.
Source: University of Nebraska Beef Cattle Production Web site (beef.unl.edu/).
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How Much Forage Will Beef Cows Eat?
By Rick Rasby, University of Nebraska Animal
A number of factors determine the daily intake of a
beef cow. The primary ones are forage or diet quality, cow weight and
stage of production. Cows that weigh 1,300 lbs will consume more on a
daily basis compared to 1,100-lb cows. In addition, lactating cows will
consume more feed than non-lactating cows. Intake is different for cows
in early lactation compared to late lactation, too.
Some thumb rules help estimate daily feed intake -- on a dry matter
basis -- of cows consuming forages of differing qualities when they are
gestating or lactating. When forage quality is low (52% TDN or less) and
cows are not lactating, they will consume 1.8% of their weight. If the
forage quality is average (TDN content between 52% and 59%),
non-lactating cows will consume about 2% of their body weight daily. As
an example, if the forage were 55% TDN and lactating cows weigh an
average of 1,200 lbs, it could be estimated that they would daily eat 28
lbs (1,200 lbs x 0.023) of hay on a dry matter basis. If the hay were
88% dry matter, on an as-fed basis cows would eat about 32 lbs (28
lbs/0.88) daily. With 200 cows, it would take about 3.2 tons of this hay
per day [(200 head x 32 lbs/head/day)/2,000 lbs] not accounting for any
To take it one more step, the 1,200-lb cow during its first 90 days
post-calving, producing 20 lbs of milk at peak production, needs to
consume 2.7 lbs of protein daily. If the hay is 8% crude protein and the
cow consumes 28 lbs of hay, she will eat 2.24 lbs of protein (28 lbs x
0.08). After calving, this hay will need to be spiked with protein to
meet the protein requirement. Likewise, if she needs 16.0 lbs of TDN
daily, then 28 lbs of a forage that's 55% TDN yields 15.4 lbs of TDN
consumed. This forage will need to be spiked with energy. A small amount
of a good-quality alfalfa could fit the need.
Source: University of Nebraska Beef Cattle Production Web site (beef.unl.edu/).
Online Equine Health, Disease Info
A Web site providing equine health and disease
surveillance information has been developed by USDA's Animal and Plant
Health Inspection Service in cooperation with the American Horse
Council. From vesicular stomatitis to West Nile, this site has the
latest information for horse enthusiasts. It also provides information
on animal movement requirements. Visit www.aphis.usda.gov/vs/nahss/equine.
Report Shows More U.S. Dairy Cows
U.S. dairy cow numbers totaled 8.25 million head in
October. This represents a nation-wide increase of 2,000 head from
September reports and 78,000 more cows than were on hand one year ago,
according to the recent USDA Milk Production report.
Create your own future with the
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TL-A Series utility tractors. They can easily handle extra-heavy-duty
work around your operation. Take a closer look at TL-A Series Utility
tractors to see the generous number of outstanding standard features
that set them apart from the rest. To learn more, see your local New
Holland dealer or call 1-888-290-7377. www.newholland.com/h4/
Sales activity was light due to the holiday week in
many parts of the Midwest, according to the University of Wisconsin. Hay
prices were steady in Nebraska and demand was moderate to good for
dairy-quality hay. Iowa hay prices were reported to be higher than they
had been, with light to moderate sales activity. South Dakota hay prices
were mixed, and tended to be higher than in previous weeks.
Southwestern Minnesota prices were mixed to slightly higher; demand and
sales activity were good.
In Missouri, hay prices were steady, with moderate to good demand and
moderate to light supply. Temperatures were reported as above normal,
leading to slightly less hay being fed due to a lack of snow or freezing
temperatures. What little grass pasture available is quickly
disappearing, and most farmers have been feeding. Many growers in some
areas have fed some during summer and fall, and are having a hard time
locating hay. Parts of the state are said to be bringing in hay from
quite a distance.
Midwestern straw prices averaged $2.74 for small square bales, $25 for
large square bales and $22 for large round bales. Large square bale
prices have been steady; small square prices were up 25% over the
Prime hay (greater than 151 RFV/RFQ) averaged $129/ton for small square
bales, $125/ton for large square bales, and $92/ton for large round
Grade 1 hay (125-150 RFV/RFQ) averaged $73/ton for large square bales
and $63/ton for large rounds.
Grade 2 hay (103-124 RFV/RFQ), brought an average of $60/ton for large
squares and $46 for large rounds.
Source: Ken Barnett, University of Wisconsin.
Online List Helps Locate Hay
Many parts of Minnesota experienced the worst drought
in nearly 20 years, and some livestock producers are having difficulty
finding hay and other forage, says Paul Peterson, University of
Minnesota agronomist. Surrounding areas were also affected, he
To help, the Minnesota Department of Agriculture and extension services
in Minnesota, Illinois, Wisconsin and South Dakota have developed an
online tool to help connect hay buyers and sellers in the U.S. and
Canada. The Upper Midwest Hay List is a self-service, free site. Lots
are not required to be located within sponsoring states. Users do not
need to register with the system for searches, but are required to
register to enter buyer or seller lots.
Registration provides a hay list ID that allows users to easily revise,
add or remove lots. Buyer and seller lots can be searched by hay type,
bale type, geographic proximity, state or province, etc. Lots stay in
the system for 60 days. Sellers assume all responsibility for accurately
listing their hay lots, and information is not verified by the
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whether you feed it or sell it. www.nk-us.com
Horse Owner Education Programs Set
The 2007 Regional Horse Owner Education Program
schedule has been set, according to the University of Minnesota
Extension Service. It will be held Feb. 10 in St. Paul, Feb. 17 in
Crookston, Feb. 24 in Rochester, March 10 in Foley and March 24 in
Preregistration is required for all programs. The cost to attend a
program is $35/person, including lunch and printed materials. Learn more
and register at www.cvm.umn.umn.edu/outreach, or call 888-241-0719 for
**Dec. 11-13 -- Western Alfalfa & Forage
Conference, Reno, NV. Contact Dan Putnam at 530-752-8982 or firstname.lastname@example.org, or Glenn
Shewmaker at 208-736-3608 or email@example.com.
**Dec. 13-14 -- Kansas Hay & Grazing Conference, Kansas State
Fairgrounds, Hutchinson. Call Gary Kilgore at 620-431-1530.
**Jan. 17-18 -- 2007 Washington State Hay Growers Association Annual
Conference & Trade Show, Three Rivers Convention Center, Kennewick.
Contact the Washington State Hay Growers Association at 509-585-5460.
**Jan. 18-19 -- Southwest Hay Conference, Ruidoso Convention
Center, Ruidoso, NM. Learn more at the New Mexico Hay Association Web
site at www.nmhay.com.
Contact Doug Whitney at firstname.lastname@example.org or call Gina
Sterrett at 505-626-5677.
**Jan. 24-25 -- Heart Of America Grazing Conference, Holiday Inn,
Mount Vernon, IL. Contact Justin Sexten, University of Illinois, at
618-242-9310 or email@example.com.
**Feb. 6-7 -- The Nebraska Alfalfa Marketing Association's
Mid-America Alfalfa Expo, Buffalo County Fairgrounds, Kearney, NE.
Visit www.alfalfaexpo.com or call Barb Kinnan at
**Feb. 7-8 -- Utah Hay & Forage Symposium, Holiday Inn Resort,
St. George. Details for participants and exhibitors are available at
utahhay.usu.edu, or contact Thomas Griggs at 435-797-2259 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
**Feb. 9 -- Ohio Forage & Grassland Council Annual Conference,
Reynoldsburg. Contact Mark Sulc at 614-292-9084.
**Feb. 22 -- Kentucky Alfalfa Conference, Cave City Convention
Center. Learn more at www.uky.edu/Ag/Forage.
**Feb. 26-27 -- 2007 Idaho Alfalfa & Forage Conference, Red Lion
Canyon Springs Hotel, Twin Falls. More details will be available at www.idahohay.com.
**Feb. 28-March 2 -- National Grassfed Beef Conference,
Grantville, PA. Contact John Comerford at 814-863-3661 or email@example.com, or Dave Hartman at
570-784-6660, ext. 12, or firstname.lastname@example.org.
**March 13-14 -- 2007 Midwest Hay Business Conference & Expo, KCI
Expo Center, Kansas City, MO. Learn more at hayconference.com/conference/index.htm.
**March 14-15 -- 2007 Manitoba Forage Symposium, MacDon Product
Showcase Building, Winnipeg, MB, CA. For more info, visit www.mbforagecouncil.mb.ca or contact Tanis Sirski at
204-768-2781 or email@example.com.
**March 21-22 -- 2007 Central Plains Dairy Expo, Sheraton Inn,
Sioux Falls, SD. Learn more at www.centralplainsdairyexpo.com/ or call Kathy Tonneson
**June 23-26 -- 2007 American Forage and Grassland Council and
Northeast Branch ASA & SSSA Annual Conference, Penn State
Conference Center and Hotel, State College. Call 800-944-AFGC or email
** Jan 27-Feb. 1, 2008 -- Joint Society for Range Management and
American Forage and Grassland Council Conference, Louisville, KY.
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