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Cattle For Those Who Like To Have A Cow.

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Old 11/28/09, 08:15 AM
Join Date: Jun 2009
Location: Indiana
Posts: 51
How much hay will a cow need for winter?

I'm planning on one milk cow, two beef cow and maybe a couple of sheep. What do you think they would need to get through winter? Another question would be how much pasture does one cow need?

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Old 11/28/09, 11:05 AM
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Location: Jefferson, Oregon
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A good rule of thumb is about 2% of their body weight in good quality hay / day. You can adjust from there.
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Old 11/28/09, 11:52 AM
Join Date: Aug 2009
Location: SE Oklahoma
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The amount of pasture needed depends on the type/quality of the pasture. 2 acres per cow would be a starting point.
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Old 11/28/09, 03:47 PM
Join Date: Jun 2009
Location: Indiana
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I've let my neighbor hay the pasture the last couple of years. He makes mine a priority. He says it's the best one he does, good for me. It has lots of different clovers, my bees love it . He saves it for his critters. I'm fencing in the back pasture which is a little over 3 acres and haying the front which is a little over 3 acres also. I'm going to check to see how much he took off the front this year to see if I'll need to buy or sell some next year.

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Old 11/28/09, 04:11 PM
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Location: Central WI
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That many animals will have your 3 acres of pasture mowed down pretty quick.
3 cuttings on 3 acres won't get you too far either. Not with 3 good sized cows eating.
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Old 11/28/09, 04:57 PM
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I've been told a jersey needs 1/2 bale a day.
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Old 11/28/09, 08:40 PM
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Join Date: Oct 2006
Location: Alberta, Canada
Posts: 911
The 2% thing with cows can end up as mostly baloney. One because not all cows eat exactly 2% of their body weight (some will eat more than others, as is the case with thin cows vs. fat cows), two the hay may not be of enough quality to meet the 2% BW standard, and three the cows may need to eat more if you get a sudden unexpected cold snap. If you want you could get your hay tested for nutritive quality, or, to be safe, buy/make more hay than you think you need. There's nothing wrong with having too much hay.
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Old 11/28/09, 11:36 PM
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Location: Illinois
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once again it depends on which part of the country you live, up here we can put a cow on a good acre of pasture that isn`t bad, if she has a calf maybe another acre. I usually figure a small square bale of hay per cow in the winter, and my bales are around 50-55 lb bales some eat more some eat that is good hay now, not crap hay.Thanks Marc
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Old 11/29/09, 07:20 AM
Join Date: Nov 2004
Location: New Zealand
Posts: 2,686
Mark, I know you want an answer but unfortunately the question is bit like asking how long is a bit of string. There are too many variables - where in the country you are, the quality of hay, can you also pasture feed through winter, the breed, age, condition and whether any of the stock are pregnant.

I have limited pasture feed over the winter and to that end, shut up paddocks in the autumn which I will break feed over the winter. Dry stock go on to rough pasture at the back of the farm. Added to this I also feed hay. Because I buy in hay I need some point from which I can calculate how much I am going to need so that I can order it and get it before winter. I use 4 cows to one conventional bale, multiplyed by the number of cows I have, multiplyed by 100 days. It works out pretty much bang on and by the time the cows start leaving their hay, I have about 5 bales left in the shed.

Because I live in a warmer part of NZ and don't really know what the Indianna climate is like, my calulations may not be any good to you but you can still use the same basis. i.e. If your cold and don't have the ability to feed pasture, you may only get two cows to the bale and have to look at 200 days. And don't err on the side of conservative - it is better to have too much than not enough.

Can't help with the sheep, mine don't get fed hay as we have enough growth to keep them going through the winter.

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Old 11/29/09, 09:59 AM
Join Date: Jun 2007
Location: TN
Posts: 3,326
You'd better stick to one milk cow and maybe a couple of goats unless you want to buy in a lot of hay. You don't have enough land for more since you're going to use half of it for hay. Goats browse and will eat things cows won't. Sheep graze the same plants as cows for the most part.
Considering you will have to breed the milk cow every year to keep her in milk, and her calf will have to be on pasture for a couple of years till butcher size even that may be pushing it a little.
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Old 11/29/09, 12:26 PM
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Join Date: Feb 2007
Location: SW Michigan
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Actually with 3 acres and 3 cows you might make it- barely. Ask you hay bLed how many bales he gets per acre. If you beef cows are younger, and you time it so you only hay them while young......if you can get enough hay off 2 cuttings and pasture the hay fields later in the season and you don' t have a drought.....but you would be much better off with 1 beef cow. Be prepared to buy hay and fork out the funds for fertilizer.
I have 2 weaned calves. They will be a yr old in march. They grazed o n 1acre and we barely made it with the drought. This yr, the steer will go in late summer and his replacement will be much smaller. It is a balancing act - tip the scale in your favor and start slow as you figure out what your land can handle.
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