By David G. Hallauer.

Jefferson County Extension Agriculture Agent.

Eastern Kansas

It has been such a nice fall, it is a little hard to believe that adverse winter conditions may be in store for us down the road.

Up to this point, our cowherds haven't required a great deal of extra management. There haven't been a great many mornings when ice needed broken, let alone much hay feeding to be done. However, the time is coming!.

Every cattleman knows that winter feeding is a necessity. How much and when could be argued from most any angle! What is fact, though, is that feed costs make up a good deal of the cost of production for the cowherd. You may remember a few weeks ago, when I noted that these costs can make up 40 to 50% of the cost of production. That is the reason they deserve such attention!.

To help you make the most of your winter feeding program, consider the following:

--What is your forage situation like? Yes, even in winter, forages are an integral part of the feed your cowherd receives. Even though the pasture was grazed during the grazing season, it still may hold some usefulness even now. If it wasn't over-grazed during the summer, or there is adequate forage, consider using stockpiled pastures to supply some of the feed required by cow or calf. Winter pastures not only provide feed, but usually a dryer place to feed as well!.

--Have you tested your forages? Any forage used for the animal should be tested to determine its nutrient content. A number of producers contacted me last winter about body condition on cows and gain of calves during the winter. The lackluster performance was likely due to a combination of factors, maybe No. 1 of which was poor forage quality. It is inefficient to supplement forages that are of high quality. Likewise, it is inefficient not to supplement when animal performance could be enhanced.

--Do you have a supplement program put together? If you do, does it meet your animal's needs without overfeeding? To answer some of these questions, feel free to stop in or contact me at the Extension office and we will put your supplement to the test! I have computer software available for the cowherd, as well as growing calves, to give some idea as to what type of supplement program is needed. I would be happy to run some numbers for you. Not only can we work on animal performance, but possibly cost of the supplement program as well.

Whether your herd is five or 150, feed costs can make or break your bottom line. Feel free to contact me for further information about making sure your feeding program is meeting the needs of your animal, without hurting your pocket book!.

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