It’s always cheaper to let your cows do the harvesting,” says Laura Paine, grazing broker with Southwest Badger Resource Conservation & Development Council.

In the northern U.S., pasture growth provides forages for only six months, and producing or purchasing hay is often a grazier’s largest expense. In a 2010 study, Paine and other researchers found that pasture cost $14 to $40 a ton, while producing hay costs $70 to $90 per ton, and purchased hay is $90 to $140 a ton – and prices have not gone down.

Paine promotes the concept of building a “forage chain” to extend the grazing season, as well as stockpiling forages for cooler seasons. Learn more at: http://www.progressivedairy.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=12699:extend-the-grazing-season-with-a-forage-chain&catid=46:feed-and-nutrition&Itemid=72

Want more good data on the value of grazing? Check out some of the “fringe benefits” of controlled grazing: http://magissues.farmprogress.com/BeefProducer/BP08Aug14/bp02.pdf

Self-evaluate herd’s winter feeding needs

Cattle prices are high, but so is the cost of feed. There’s value in understanding animals’ nutritional needs and exactly how much is required.

It can be easy for cow-calf operations to underfeed or overfeed. But by having a basic knowledge base, producers can increase profitability and lower reproduction complications in their herd.

Winter feed accounts for roughly 40 to 50 percent of the total cost of producing weaned calves, says Dale Blasi, beef cattle nutrition and management extension specialist at Kansas State University.

The proper amount of feed and the nutritional value it provides is vital to producing and maintaining a productive and economical cow herd. He shares more on the topic at: http://www.progressivecattle.com/topics/feed-nutrition/6494-producers-should-self-evaluate-winter-feeding-annually.

Bale Grazing Basics

Wouldn’t it be nice to get up on a cold winter’s morning and not have to worry about starting the tractor to feed the cows? Instead, all you have to do is move a single strand electric fence about every two or three days a few feet. Now that would be living. Well that is exactly how produc-ers that have adopted bale grazing feed their cows. University of Idaho Extension specialist Jim Church shares how to make to work at this link: http://extension.uidaho.edu/nezperce/files/2014/06/Cattle-e-letter-June-2014.pdf