As winter approaches, nutritional needs and increased stress on cattle are becoming a concern. Winter feeding plays a very important role in the profitability of a beef cowherd because it can comprise a large percentage of your cost of production.

When the environment results in an effective temperature below the animal’s lower critical temperature, the animal must increase heat production to maintain a constant body temperature and performance. To produce more heat, the animal must either receive an increase in energy from the cattle feed ration or draw on body stores.

To compensate for the energy deficit created by the cold stress, follow this rule of thumb: Increase the amount of feed 1% for each degree of cold stress. If you have the wind-chill temperature, use that temperature.

Keeping hay in front of the cattle may not take care of meeting the extra nutrient needs. If the hay is good, meaning it was harvested before it matured or was rained on, cattle can probably make it through the cold weather and still maintain good body condition. If the quality of the hay is poor, the cattle may not perform as well.

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