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Writing in the Ohio Beef Cattle Letter, Rory Lewandowski, Ohio State University Extension educator, provides some thoughts on feed and feeding options for drought-stressed cattle operations.
Feeding corn grain
Alright, now back to the suggestion by Steve Boyles that producers consider some other cattle feed options other than corn silage to stretch hay supplies. One of those options is to feed corn grain and limit feed hay. Shelled corn has a TDN (energy) content of 88%. In most of our ruminant meat animal enterprises, energy is most often the limiting nutrient.
At $8/bu., the cost of 1 lb. of TDN on a DM basis is 19¢. Given the year we have had for haymaking, second-cut grass hay with a TDN value of 64% is probably reasonable. The breakeven cost for hay of this quality to equal corn on a TDN basis is $200/ton.
If the hay price /ton is higher, then it’s more economical to feed corn. If the TDN value of hay is lower than 64%, that will push the breakeven price of hay even lower. The point is, that even at $8/bu., corn can be an economical feed option when hay prices are very high.
According to Steve Loerch, OARDC ruminant nutrition researcher, cows can be fed a ration of 10-12 lbs. whole shelled corn with 4 lbs. of average-quality, first-cutting hay. This cattle feed ration does require a feedlot protein supplement fed at 2 lbs./cow/day, an adjustment period to work the cows on to this diet, and enough bunk space so that all cows get their share of the ration. For more specific information about this diet, go to http://beef.osu.edu/library/limitfed.html .
Another feed option Boyles mentions is the use of wheat middlings to stretch hay supplies. Wheat mids can be fed up to about 1% of body weight, contain 14%-18% CP with an energy value that is 80%-85% that of corn. Read more on Boyles’ thoughts on wheat midds at http://beef.osu.edu/library/wheatmid.html.
Recently Steve has recorded a number of short YouTube videos explaining the use of wheat midds as well as some other alternative and by-product feeds that could be considered by cattlemen. Find them at http://www.youtube.com/OSUBeefTeam.
For most beef producers this fall and winter will be a challenging time to feed the cowherd. Other cattle feed options do exist, but deciding which one is right for your operation will take some investigation, cost analysis and consideration of what is required to feed an alternative feedstuff.
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