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The simple answer is to start your figuring at 25 lbs. decent quality hay per cow per day... so for 50 lb. square bales you would need approximately 750 lbs. or 15 per month per cow. If you are talking small round bales (4x4... the most common in my neck of the woods), they weight around 500 lbs., so you would need about 1 1/2 bales per month per cow.

As you said in your question, there are many factors that can change the final answer:

cow breed
cow size
cow genetics
how cold the winter is
is there any winter grazing available
hay bale size and actual weight
type of hay
etc. etc.

Here's a link to a pdf from UGa. about buying hay and round bale weights and here's a link to a thread on Yahoo answers about small square bales.
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