Cattle won't eat the hay

Discussion in 'Cattle' started by myheaven, Nov 21, 2013.

  1. myheaven

    myheaven Well-Known Member Supporter

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    My girls and 2 boys for that fact will not eat the hay we just got. We have 21 bales of it. This is our winter hay there is nothin I can do for them. I supplament the 5 heifers and 1 cow in milk plus the boys with alfalfa. They eat the alfalfa but then starve themselves till the next am when it's time to throw the alfalfa. My cow has taken it upon herself to jump the cattle panel each night and wait for me in the morning! Not a good thing! Bad bad cow!
    What do I do!? Goats will devour the hay but not my brat cattle. We are electric reinforceing the winter Lot tonight. I don't want my cow hurt. Nor anyone else for that matter. Advice please.
     
  2. ramiller5675

    ramiller5675 Well-Known Member

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    Last winter after 2 years of severe drought and very little hay available, about half of my hay was some wheat straw I had baled as "insurance".

    When winter came, I had the choice of either selling off half of the cattle or finding a way to get them to eat that straw (it was quality wheat straw but was real low protein).

    I started out by putting out 2 days worth of higher quality hay in bale feeders, then would roll out 2 days worth of wheat straw and would also feed them a few pounds of high protein 38% cubes for each of those 2 days. Once they started eating the straw, I stopped rolling it out and started feeding it in feeders, too (as it was I had to ration out what hay I had to make it last as long as possible).

    The cubes are supposed to stimulate their appetites and make the low-quality straw or hay more digestible so that they will eat more of it.

    I hated spending all that extra money on those 38% cubes, but it was cheaper than buying higher quality hay (if I could have found any), or taking the loss from selling them all off.
     
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  3. Allen W

    Allen W Well-Known Member

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    I'm curious what kind of hay it is.
     
  4. myheaven

    myheaven Well-Known Member Supporter

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    It's grass hay. They have had it before. But now they are throwing a fit cuse they have a taste of the alfalfa. The goats who are normally my pickeyest eaters are devouring it.
     
  5. myheaven

    myheaven Well-Known Member Supporter

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    I have a 32% pellet I run in their grain mix.
     
  6. Chaty

    Chaty Kathy Supporter

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    I would only give the alfalfa to the milk cow and the others should eat the hay. I would maybe put a little Molassas on the hay to get them started. Just drizzle it over some of the hay. I give my goats that are in milk alfalfa pellets, less waste. When I had my Jersey she got alfalfa pellets added to her food. Just a thought.
     
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  7. Lazy J

    Lazy J Well-Known Member Supporter

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    It seems you are feeding them too much. Obviously they like the alfalfa, stop giving it to them and they will start eating the grass hay.
     
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  8. Yvonne's hubby

    Yvonne's hubby Murphy was an optimist ;) Staff Member

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    My cows can get a bit picky sometimes too. I offer them whatever hay I have.... and point to the snow covered pasture.... odd how they choose the hay nearly every time. :) now and then I do run up on a roll they dont care for at all... a little molasses or salt seems to help. :)
     
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  9. countryfied2011

    countryfied2011 Well-Known Member

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    And I always heard cattle will eat just about any hay.....not my two and I am so glad to see I am not the only one who has picky eaters.

    I will try the molasses and salt trick. Another problem I have is it seems to be hard for them to eat from round bales. Anyone else have this problem? I finally switched to square bales, but that is so expensive.

    I feed clean grass hay.
     
  10. sassafras manor

    sassafras manor Well-Known Member

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    If they are having a hard time getting started on the round bales, try using a hay hook to loosen up the top or sides of the round bale. I agree with the other posters about using molasses to stimulate them to eat the hay. In the past I also have tossed some sweet feed onto the loose hay to encourage them to start eating the hay.
     
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  11. karenp

    karenp Well-Known Member

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    I'm so glad it's not just me. I picked up a few bales of alfalfa and was giving a flake in the morning as a treat. She started turning her nose up at the very nice grass hay she had been devouring. I quit the alfalfa, after about a week and a half she's back to normal. I agree with Countryfied, anyone who says cows will eat any kind of hay has not met my girl.
     
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  12. Lazy J

    Lazy J Well-Known Member Supporter

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    As a rule we overfeed our cattle, especially the further East and the smaller the herd. Thousands and thousands of brood cows are fed on what we affectionately called "sticks and stones" in my grad school nutrition classes. There are very few if any cases where you can justify providing high quality alfalfa to a beef brood cow, unless you raised it and do not accurately value your opportunity costs.

    Brood cows and brood ewes should be the scavengers on a farm, eating the lower quality feedstuffs while they are gestating. Of course once they begin to milk they need a slightly higher plane of nutrition.

    The result of overfeeding brood cows is overconditioned females which leads to breeding and birthing problems, lack of milk production and reduced weaning weight. A beef producer must view their animals with proper nutrition in mind and resist the urge to throw them a flake of succulent alfalfa simply because "They look hungry".

    Jim
     
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  13. myheaven

    myheaven Well-Known Member Supporter

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    We have the alfalfa hay as it is cheaper by $7 per 50 pound cheaper. The girls and boys don't waste it. The other girls and boys need it as they are smaller then should be as our last grass hay was not adequate and the co-op scrwed up on the bulk fed mix they sold us. We now make our own.
    The alfalfa added was at the vets suggestion. Trust me they need it. Molly stayed in the pen all night. They have always had round bale hay. This is nothing new to them. I'm feedin the alfalfa on top of their round bale now. We are now covered in snow so that should help Encourage the hay eating. We need to feed 155lbs of hay a day for the 5 heifers 2 steer and 1 cow. Then the concentrates. They are not overfed. That is 3% of their body weight combined.
     
  14. Allen W

    Allen W Well-Known Member

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    If your figuring 3% of body weight + grain your over estimating what they are going to eat, grain will replace some of the hay they eat.

    A brood cow will eat about any thing you put in front of her, just don't let them have the good stuff first. I've bought thin dry wintered cows to feed low quality hay to I couldn't sell for a decent price. A little protein supplement and water and hay and they were happy. I've got a pair I bought yesterday,need to go see if that old rip still wants to kill me or has settled down, If I'm lucky the neighbors dogs come through last night and she got to take her anger out on them.
     
  15. ramiller5675

    ramiller5675 Well-Known Member

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    There's always that joke about the best way to get a cow to eat old hay is to throw it in a gulley for erosion control and they will eat every last bit of the bale.

    I baled up an extra-weedy area last summer (mostly marestail and ragweed) trying to clean up the weeds and also give me some bales to use for erosion control. Those bales were mostly stemmy weeds and you could smell the ragweed from a distance, so I thought the cattle would leave them alone until they had composted down and filled in the gulley.

    I carefully stacked those bales in the eroded area I was trying to fix and a couple of days later, they had eaten almost all of those bales. I can almost guarantee that if I had tried to feed them those bales in February, they probably wouldn't have touched them.
     
  16. myheaven

    myheaven Well-Known Member Supporter

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    Well Allen you are far warmer then I. This am it was 7, now it's 15. I'm going to give them 1/2 the alfalfa in the am 1/2 I p then their grain. We're to be -5 tonight. Brrrr.
    I'm going to continue on my vets advice. I trust her. She has 150 cows herself. She was also born and raised on a farm.
     
  17. myheaven

    myheaven Well-Known Member Supporter

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    These are dairy heifers and to be bred by may 2014.
     
  18. Allen W

    Allen W Well-Known Member

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    You wanted to know why your cattle weren't eating the hay I gave my opinion. I'm just a dumb farmer, hay baler and do a little cow upgrading in between.

    If you was closer I could fix you up with some nice crabgrass hay that would be ideal for your young calves.
     
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  19. nchobbyfarm

    nchobbyfarm Well-Known Member

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    A man I met years ago trained/raised bird dogs. He told me he fed his dogs collards. I told him my dogs wouldn't eat collards. He said his wouldn't either for the first week! Hunger is a great motivator!
     
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  20. myheaven

    myheaven Well-Known Member Supporter

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    Allen I'm not disagreeing on the cause as the refusal to eat the grass hay. I disagree about the amount of the feed they need. I agree they want the alfalfa over the grass.