“A lot of producers want to put out alfalfa in a blizzard,” says Frank Brazle, extension livestock specialist for Kansas State University. “Their reasoning is that it will put more heat into the cow because of the fermentation process and that’s true. The problem is that cattle will eat about 2 percent of their body weight in prairie hay but 2.7 to 3 percent in alfalfa. All that extra protein raises the cow’s water requirement due to the extra nitrogen that needs to be flushed. If you’re feeding her that way during bad weather, she probably doesn’t have good access to water and it can be hard on her.”

Mr. Brazle says the same thing can be accomplished with grain since it’s the cow’s energy requirement that increases in cold weather, not her protein needs.