Like so many other western states, Wyoming farmers and ranchers are having a tough time finding hay for livestock this winter. Hay supplies are short in nearly three-quarters of the state, according to the Wyoming Agricultural Statistics Service. Farmers and ranchers have resorted to supplemental feeding in many areas because of cold temperatures and lack of fall and winter pasture. There are several supplements that can be used to provide both energy and protein to cattle.
- Range cubes. Cubes do not require troughs to be fed. Cubes can be fed on grass. Cubes are convenient but can be expensive. Most cubes can be fed at 3 to 5 pounds per day, but more can be fed if needed. Be careful if cubes contain a high percentage of urea or other NPN protein sources.
- Liquid supplements. Liquid supplements are convenient feed but are expensive. Cows will over consume. Most liquid feeds contain ingredients that are intended to serve as intake limiters. Additional feed will need to be fed if free-choice forage is not available. Do not feed this to cows grazing soybean stubble or cows grazing or being fed forages that are likely to be high in nitrates.
- Protein blocks. Protein blocks should be handled and feeding guidelines followed similar to liquid supplements.
- Whole cottonseed (WCS). Whole cottonseed is an excellent source of energy and protein. There should be an adequate supply. Feed 5 to 6 pounds per day of WCS this fall.
- Home prepared mixes. Producers can either mix or have custom prepared supplements. Mixes should contain approximately 20 percent crude protein and 65 percent TDN. Following are some examples:
- Self-fed supplements. Self-fed rations listed below provide the same nutrition as the ones outlined above. There are a few minor changes due to addition of salt or an intake limiter.
- Consider acreage that has not been previously thought of as a forage source. Is there land that has not been grazed such as around the edges of hay fields. If it is not fenced, consider temporary electric fences to provide some grazing.
- Dry, pregnant mature cows could secure some forage from grazing woodlands. Be concerned about potential poisonous plant.
- Contract with local truckers for “back Hauls" of hay. If hay will need to be purchased, it can probably be purchased cheaper in other area of the country. The problem will be the expense of transporting. Some reports have indicated that the cost per ton for transportation is about the same as the purchase price for the hay. Local truckers may be a possible "back haul" at a reduced cost.