During winters in Texas and Oklahoma, grass quality decreases to the point that most cattle producers have to provide supplemental feed for their cattle. The type and composition of available feed supplements may vary depending on location, but the goal should be to provide the nutrients needed for the lowest cost. Each operation will have different resources and limitations, and therefore the best supplementation program is the one that is customized to your operation. Below, cattle producers in Oklahoma and Texas share their strategies on winter supplementation. If you would like assistance developing a feeding plan for your operation, contact a Noble Foundation consultant or your local extension agent.
1. Spring calving herd, Murray County, Okla.
"We winter cows on standing native grass. We typically do not feed much hay unless there is ice or snow on the ground. We usually start feeding around Nov. 1. Our cows get 1 pound of 38 percent cubes during November and 2 pounds in December. In January, we switch to 20 percent cubes and increase the rate to 5 pounds per day. Actually, we only feed every other day, so the amount we put out is double that. If the cows lose much condition after calving, we will go to feeding 6 pounds of 20 percent cubes every day."
2. Spring calving herd, Cleveland County, Okla.
"When the grass starts getting short, we give the cows 8 pounds of distiller's grains (DDGS) three times a week. This works out to about 3.5 pounds per day. We feed this amount until we have green grass in the spring. The cows will put on some condition in the beginning, and this helps get us through the winter. We feed it in 50-60 pound piles on the ground and the cows clean it up. We buy it by the truckload and store it in supersacks in the barn. We don't have the expense of an overhead bin or the problems with bridging in the bin. This place is mostly bermudagrass so we start feeding hay when the stockpiled grass is gone."
3. Fall calving herd, Lincoln County, Okla.
"We try to get ahead of winter supplementation by having our cows in a body condition score of 6 or better going into calving. After the first frost, we put out a 3:1 mix of cottonseed meal and salt and keep it out free choice. We like it because it gives all of the cows a chance to eat and it decreases labor. When the stockpiled grass runs out, we feed hay free-choice. If we have ryegrass, we will limit-graze it for 2 hours a day. This really stretches our forage and decreases hay and supplement consumption."