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  #1  
Old 05/21/12, 10:35 AM
 
Join Date: Mar 2012
Location: Southern Illinois
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What are the best grains to feed cows?

I am looking into maybe changing the grain that I feed my cows. Looking for a more inexpensive idea. I don't have a large area to plant much in, but I am sure that I can find a couple of 1/2 acre plots in my yard. Can someone help me? I would appreciate all help. They get grain now, but it is what the mill mixes up for them. There isn't a lot of weight gain happening from it. And they have plenty of pasture. Plus DH put a round bale out for them too. Now what do I need to plant or have the mill mix up that will be reasonable in price?

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  #2  
Old 05/21/12, 11:03 AM
 
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Good pasture is the best feed for your cows. Cheap, since you already have it, and healthiest for the animals. And for you if you are going to eat their meat.

ETA - have they been wormed?

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Old 05/21/12, 11:36 AM
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Are there any legumes in your pasture? A mix of grass and legumes is ideal.

Ditto on the worming.

I like oat hay. Seems like nobody puts it up anymore, at least not around here. When cut, cured and baled at the "milky" stage, you get fiber and dry matter from the stems and leaves plus the bonus protein from the oats baled in.

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Old 05/21/12, 12:12 PM
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what the mill mixes up can be many different things. What sort of feed is it?
What kind of cows? How old are they? What do your pastures look like? What sort of plants are in your pasture? What kind of hay are you feeding them?

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  #5  
Old 05/21/12, 12:45 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Cliff View Post
Good pasture is the best feed for your cows. Cheap, since you already have it, and healthiest for the animals. And for you if you are going to eat their meat.

ETA - have they been wormed?
We just wormed them 2 weeks ago. Spring worming. Will worm again problate July. I try to worm 4 times a year. They are active and playful. Just seem to go through a ton of grain with little gain. 2 Heifers go through about 150 lbs grain and hay and pasture a week.
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Old 05/21/12, 12:51 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sammyd View Post
what the mill mixes up can be many different things. What sort of feed is it?
What kind of cows? How old are they? What do your pastures look like? What sort of plants are in your pasture? What kind of hay are you feeding them?
They are 11.5 months old. We have fescue, clover, and grass in our pasture. DH just put out more clover seed about a month ago. Pastures are not bare and they seem content with it. They are Angus/Charolais cross. Hay is a clover/grass mix. We have it baled on our land. It is a 2/3-1/3 agreement.
I am just trying to figure out if we should make up our own kind of grain mix and grow some to save money, cut the grain, or what. The mill bill says it is 160 lbs corn and 40 lbs cattle mix rolled up.
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Old 05/21/12, 01:14 PM
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Do you know how much protein is in your feed? Also, any idea how much they weigh? Can you judge it or do you have a weight tape?

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Old 05/21/12, 01:35 PM
 
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I would say, based on a guesstimate from a dairy breeder, approx. 750-800 lbs. I am not sure how much protein is in it. They say it is a mixture that "everyone" uses when they are growing ou ttheir cattle. It is supposed to have mineral in it. The bull gets mostly hay and pasture. Once or twice a week DH will put some grain out for him, but he is full grown now. 2 years old. The other two are heifers and I am really wanting to get them up to par for breeding in the next few months. What is it, 15 months? As you can tell, I am new to cattle and starting slowly. Next spring or this winter we plan to buy a couple o fmore and slowly buil dup our herd. I just want to give them the best I can at a most reasonable price.

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Old 05/21/12, 01:55 PM
 
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They honestly don't need grain and it's an unnecessary expense. Cows were made to eat grass I have a herd of around 60 cows on pasture/hay only and they do great.

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Old 05/21/12, 02:11 PM
 
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Wow I do hope to wean them off it for the summer. I know with winter they might need the extra though, right?

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  #11  
Old 05/21/12, 04:12 PM
 
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What I feed to my cattle is dry COB. I like to see what I am paying for and not for bad grain or mill screenings that are disguised by covering it with molasses. It's not the cheapest, but I only feed 1 pound per day per cow, which is about 1600 calories, if I remember correctly.

Then each cow gets a handful of good quality alfalfa for the protein. Other than that they eat good pasture (and trace mineral and selenium block set out where they can have it if they want it.)

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Old 05/21/12, 04:14 PM
 
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Originally Posted by Bambitski View Post
Wow I do hope to wean them off it for the summer. I know with winter they might need the extra though, right?
Not really. Just good hay and mineral. Cows never "need" grain. They evolved eating grass and they are perfectly suited to get all the nutrition they need from pasture. Most of mine have never had a bite of grain. They are all healthy cows who raise healthy calves.
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Old 05/21/12, 04:33 PM
 
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If your heifers are 750-800lbs on good pasture and getting 10lbs of grain/day, they should be pigfat. You do not want a breeding heifer fat, you want her in good condition. That is pretty subjective, huh? I would stop feeding the grain now, if you want to baby them and keep interaction limit it to a pound or two. There are a couple of reasons 1 you don't want them too fat 2.grain in sufficient amount decreased the animals ability to digest roughage(plant matter, hay and grass) by changing thepH in the rumen. Arule of thumb for full grown cows is if you are going to supplement with grain to give them under 5lb or over 12lbs. The idea is either keep the amount small enough that is does not change the rumen environment or give them enough to supply enough energy to make up for the lower digestion of roughage. 3. You want your heifers gaining weight at breeding time, with good pasture they will be doing that. You do not want to take the grain away shortly before or during breeding. When you quit graining them they will probably lose some weight. Here people talk about cattle falling apart, meaning looseing weight because of change of feed. This due to removeing the energy source the grain and the animal not being able to efficiently digest roughage. You want to stop feeding the excess grain now so the rumen can readjust to efficiently digest the pasture. Bambitski, if you really want your heifer to like you feed them an apricot kolachi once a week.

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Old 05/21/12, 04:46 PM
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What Bruce said. Over-fat heifers can get fatty deposits that ruin their udders and even keep them from conceiving. You want them to be in good condition but not fat. And you want their rumen to be full of "bugs" that help them digest forage and make the most of it.

Here is a link to "Body Condition Scoring" or BCS. This is real good info, shows you how to look at the different areas of their body and really evaluate them. If your heifers are 5 to 6, you are in good shape. They are still growing and if they have enough nutrition to keep growing and still store a little fat, perfect.

http://pods.dasnr.okstate.edu/docush...SI-3283web.pdf

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Last edited by MO_cows; 05/21/12 at 04:46 PM. Reason: oops - forgot the link
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  #15  
Old 05/21/12, 06:56 PM
 
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MO Cows. I had my husband look at the link, and we both agree that they are closest to the 6 than they are to the 5. So, I guess we are in better shape than I assumed. We might become good at this cow raising thing yet. I guess I worry to much. Nothing new, I just like to raise my animals as best as I can. Just like my kids.
We will slowly wean them from grain then, and I will look into some alfalfa. I am assuming you mean pellets?

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  #16  
Old 05/21/12, 07:07 PM
 
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At this time of year with fast growing grass and clovers in your pasture your cows are probably getting more protein than they need, so no need to feed alfalfa. In late July August if the grasses are mature and not growing then maybe. There are literaly millions of cows on pasture that get nothing more than salt and mineral. You are worrying too much. Enjoy not spending money on their feed this time of year. Buy yourself and chocolate bar and a bottle of wine and relax.

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  #17  
Old 05/21/12, 07:35 PM
 
Join Date: Mar 2012
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You have all given me great advice. Thank you so much! And I told my husband about the wine and chocolate. LOL He is all for it. LOL

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  #18  
Old 05/22/12, 11:00 AM
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I'll chime in. I've been around cattle all my life. We still run cow/calf pairs. I never feed grain until it gets close to weaning time. Then I only feed a handful per head to get them to come in. I could bring them in on horseback, but a handful of feed for a few days is easier. lol

Cattle are not children nor pets. They will do just as good without grain as they will with grain, depending on the breed. We've always had Hereford and a few Longhorns thrown in. If I have a cow that needs feed in the winter to keep her weight, she goes to town. Through culling and such, we have a herd that never requires anything more than grass or hay (In winter), mineral and salt. Even when nursing they keep their weight and look good.

Our neighbors feed the heck out of their cattle and they can't figure out how we keep making money and buying more land when they struggle to keep afloat. I tell them they feed all their profits and have cows that are not easy keepers.

As an example. that neighbor's son was over here one winter day. There was snow on the ground and a couple of big bales of hay. The two horses were the only ones eating hay. He was amazed that the cows were out grubbing through the snow for grass. I told him it's all in the way we cull and manage the herd.

You make your herd what you want it to be.

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