With winter feed supplies low in many drought-stricken areas, University of Nebraska Extension Beef Specialist Rick Rasby says limit-feeding of grain-based rations can offer a good alternative for some producers.

Feeding grain does present some challenges, he points out. Operations might not have the equipment for efficient delivery of the ration, or lack the recommended 24-to-36 inches per head of bunk space. Ample bunk space is critical in assuring that all cows, not just a dominant few, have access to feed in a limit-feeding situation. Feeding on the ground is an option for some operations, but increases waste losses significantly. Grain-based rations can cause digestive problems, and Dr. Rasby says the forage portion of the ration does a better job of preventing acidosis if you do not grind it.

Dr. Rasby offers some examples of rations that producers can adjust based on available ingredients.

1. Non-lactating female:

  • Whole corn or milo – 10 to 12 pounds per head per day.
  • Medium to high quality long-stem hay – 2.5 to 3 pounds per head per day.
  • May need some protein supplement depending on the quality of forage.
  • Salt and mineral – free choice.
  • Can substitute corn gluten feed or soy hulls for the energy portion of the ration.
  • Ear corn also can serve as the energy source, at about 88 to 90 percent of the energy value of whole corn.

2. Alternative ration for non-lactating females:

  • Whole corn – 5 to 7 pounds per head per day.
  • Alfalfa – 10 pounds per head per day.
  • Salt and mineral – free choice.

3. Lactating female:

  • While corn, cracked milo – 12 to 14 pounds per head per day. You might need to feed twice daily to avoid digestive problems due to the volume of grain.
  • Protein supplement (38 percent) with ionophore – 2 to 2.5 pounds per day.
  • Medium to high quality long-stem hay – 3 to 5 pounds per head per day.
  • Salt and mineral – free choice.
  • Can substitute corn gluten feed or soy hulls for the energy portion of the ration.
  • Ear corn also can serve as the energy source, at about 88 to 90 percent of the energy value of whole corn.