Most of the cow calf producers of the Midwest and Southwest are going into winter with very limited hay supplies and standing forage.  As they search for alternative methods to keep the cows in adequate body condition this winter, some were planning on wheat pasture that so far has not received enough rain to grow.  Therefore it has become time to look for Plan B (or C or D).  Most of the alternatives after wheat pasture are not easy or inexpensive

Information that may provide guidelines for alternative winter feeding methods can be found in an Oklahoma State University Extension Fact Sheet:  ANSI-3034 called “Management of Cows with Limited Forage Availability”.  In this fact sheet you will find:

  • Culling suggestions (if that has not already been done);
  • Recommendations about how much hay is needed if it is to be purchased; 
  • Limit-feeding grain with limited forage available
  • Suggested complete diets for cows fed in drylot
  • Limit energy concentrate feeding management tips
  • Limit feeding of hay

Some of the suggestions in the fact sheet require great skill and discipline on the part of the herd manager.  Also feed handling equipment, feed bunks, and well-fenced lots or sacrifice pastures are necessary for many of these alternatives.  Study the lesson extensively before undertaking some of these alternatives.  The price of many grain-based diets must be considered as well as the management challenges.  Read Oklahoma State University Extension Fact Sheet ANSI-3034 (http://pods.dasnr.okstate.edu/docushare/dsweb/Get/Document-4968/ANSI-3034web.pdf) before winter sets in.