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Alfalfa as supplement

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Triangle Bar
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Alfalfa as supplement

Postby Triangle Bar » Fri Dec 16, 2016 8:25 am

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Re: Alfalfa as supplement

Postby Faster horses » Fri Dec 16, 2016 8:52 am

Good article. Supports what I have learned and promoted for years. Plus with using alfalfa as a supplement, you get dry matter from it as well. We are finding more all the time how important dry matter is. (meaning digestible dry matter).

One more little thing, when cows have that big 'hay belly'.....that's hay or grass they couldn't digest due to lack of protein to help break it down. Protein requirements are easily met. 10% protein is enough for a range cow as long as they get their dry matter requirement. Thanks for posting that link, Triangle Bar. Glad to have you back!
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Re: Alfalfa as supplement

Postby Triangle Bar » Fri Dec 16, 2016 6:49 pm

Thanks FH!
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Re: Alfalfa as supplement

Postby Denny » Mon Dec 19, 2016 6:28 pm

So how much alfalfa can you feed a range cow? I now have a opportunity to sell my meadow hay for bedding and can replace it with alfalfa @ even money so instead of feeding slough hay with a alfalfa supplement it'll be more like corn silage ,mixed upland hay and alfalfa in the 10# range per day.
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Re: Alfalfa as supplement

Postby Silver » Mon Dec 19, 2016 6:53 pm

Denny wrote:So how much alfalfa can you feed a range cow? I now have a opportunity to sell my meadow hay for bedding and can replace it with alfalfa @ even money so instead of feeding slough hay with a alfalfa supplement it'll be more like corn silage ,mixed upland hay and alfalfa in the 10# range per day.


I don't know what the experts say, but our cows live on hay only for at least 200 days a year and our hay by my best guess would average at least 50% alfalfa, the rest would be mostly brome, timothy, and maybe some stinkweed and sow thistle. :cboy:
If our alfalfa would last longer in the stand the cows would get a lot higher percentage.

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Re: Alfalfa as supplement

Postby Faster horses » Mon Dec 19, 2016 8:42 pm

Alfalfa mixed with other hay is a great combination. Alfalfa fed straight is not advised. I'm not familiar enough with corn silage to know how that will work. Remember their dry matter requirements MUST be met. Don't be afraid to give them plenty of grass hay, even if they leave some, because not all of it will be digestible, but will make a good cushion for the other higher quality feeds.

10# of alfalfa sounds good to me. The 17% fed at 10# was 14% moisture wasn't it? So that is 1.46# protein. 2# crude protein is a good number to shoot for. Requirements go up a bit after calving, but be careful feeding a lot of alfalfa after calving. Raises the PH level and predisposes calves to scours. A mix always works the best IMO. We had a customer who fed alfalfa hay and hay barley after calving and his calves got entertoxemia. Our advice was to cut out the barley hay and feed grass hay with the alfalfa and soon his calves stopped getting entertoxemia. You know, small calves don't require much milk and alfalfa and cereal type hay, contributes to milk production. We learned to head off problems. We didn't have alfalfa, so our cows just got grass hay, but plenty of it. I know some producers give their calves an over-eating shot when they are born. We never had a problem so we never did that.

I found this:
Processed higher priced supplements such as those listed in Table 1 are often used because of their convenience (range block or cube). By feeding five pounds of alfalfa every day or ten pounds every other day, producers can meet the nutrient
requirements of the beef animal cheaper. Not only does alfalfa furnish the needed protein, but it also
stimulates the rumen to increase the consumption and digestibility of the lower quality forages.

Alfalfa As An Energy Source
Alfalfa has one of the highest feeding values of forages. It has always been perceived as an excellent
source of protein, but is sometimes underestimated as an energy source. A ton of alfalfa hay contains as
much TDN as 25 bushels of corn (and as much protein as 2/3 ton of soybean meal). Beef cows are more
likely to be fed rations more deficient in energy than in protein, particularly during the last trimester of
pregnancy and postpartum. A beef cow needs high energy hay to regain body weight after calving,
produce milk for her calf, and rebreed in 40 to 90 days after calving.


And we can't forget this:
Bloat Problems Associated With Feeding Alfalfa
The danger of bloat can be lessened by following several management practices.
* Do not feed dairy quality alfalfa hays to beef cattle. *Do not allow leaves to build up in the feed bunk.
*Allow plenty of feed space for all animals to have access at once.
*Feed alfalfa in conjunction with a higher fiber feed such as grass hay. Never introduce hungry
animals to leafy alfalfa.
* Remove and sell animals that are chronic bloaters.
* During wet weather take extra precautions on the aforementioned points.
*Bloat control may also be aided by feeding an antifoaming agent (i.e. polaxalene). Bloat Guard is
such a product and is available in medicated blocks, in commercial pelleted feeds as a top dress, or
a liquid that can be added to the water.
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

How much TDN is there in corn silage? That would be interesting to know and I have no idea.

I hope this helps.
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Re: Alfalfa as supplement

Postby Denny » Mon Dec 19, 2016 10:59 pm

Our last sample was 8.5% protein 64% tdn I haven't tested this years as we normally just do a bunk sample on the bulls and they are on a pellet ration for another 10 days. Most likely we'll do one shortly. Most of the time it seams our silage is pretty close year in and year out.
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Re: Alfalfa as supplement

Postby Faster horses » Tue Dec 20, 2016 12:58 am

I have something to share about DMI as soon as I get permission.

Denny, I think what you are planning to do is sound. I wish knew more about corn silage and I would be even more sure.
As with all feeds, Dry Matter Intake (DMI) is key, along with water.
With 64% TDN in your silage....which was 40# as fed, containing 65% moisture.......that gives you 14# DM....x 64% TDN....almost 9# energy. Plus what you get in the alfalfa.

I found this table which shows the nutrition requirements of a beef cow at different stages of gestation/lactation.

Scroll down to page 12. I tried to bring the table over here, but it didn't transfer well, so best to just check it out using the link:

https://www.bookstore.ksre.ksu.edu/pubs/C735.pdf

For example, it shows 1300# cow, mid third pregnancy needs 22# DM; 10.8 TDN; 1.5 Crude Protein. I suppose this is at 20 degrees.
Colder than that the requirements go up substantially. Last trimester requirements go up too. It's a good chart, same as what I have. Came from the NRC published in 1984. To my knowledge, there hasn't been new research by the NRC since.

Figuring your silage alone looks like almost 9# TDN, so you have almost met that requirement. You have 14# DM, so you need an additional 8# of that to make 22#. I know our cows needed more than 22# when it was cold and windy. So keep that in mind.
(10# alfalfa hay @ 14% moisture yields 8.6# DM so adding that to your silage, you have met your DM requirements at 20 degrees.) 10# alfalfa @ 17% Protein results in 8.6 DM x 17%=1.46# Crude Protein. 14# DM silage x 8.5% Protein = 1.19# protein. Now you have 1.19 + 1.46#--2.65# total of Crude protein from the silage and alfafa. The alfalfa PLUS the grass hay would put you over the requirements, which is a good spot to be in going into the winter. It is so much easier to keep them in good body condition and MAINTAIN during the winter as to try to catch up when the winter is cold; sometimes you can't feed enough! Your grass hay will be good to feed as it isn't as digestible as the alfalfa/silage and looks to me you would have a nice balanced feed for your cowsand would give them more DM. Feeding 40# silage; 10# alfalfa (you might be able to cut back to 5#) since you would be adding some grass hay. The grass hay is important, even though it isn't quality feed like the alfalfa. Cows will utilize it and do well having it. Dry matter, dry matter, dry matter. :-)

FWIW.
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Re: Alfalfa as supplement

Postby Triangle Bar » Tue Dec 20, 2016 8:39 am

We grow a lot of alfalfa on our place, so we always have rain damaged alfalfa. I've always heard people talk and folks ask me about cows bloating. I've never experienced cattle bloating on alfalfa hay. I've fed it on snow, slush, and spring rains. I have not ever seen it happen. I guess in a susceptible animal it could. The only time I've used the polaxalene blocks is when grazing growing alfalfa in the summer time. I can only remember loosing one steer calf.

Last year and this year also, I am feeding a 1 to 1 ration of alfalfa hay to grass hay during the winter. Just before calving and until green grass, I will feed a 2 to 1 ration of grass hay to alfalfa hay. In the past I've done it the other way around. I like having the greater protein and TDN during the worst of the cold weather and then having a less protein and TDN during calving season. There is still adequate protein and energy but not enough to turn beef cows into almost dairy cows far as milk production.
Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and will dine with him, and he with Me. - Rev. 3:20



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Re: Alfalfa as supplement

Postby Faster horses » Tue Dec 20, 2016 10:06 am

Triangle Bar wrote:Last year and this year also, I am feeding a 1 to 1 ration of alfalfa hay to grass hay during the winter. Just before calving and until green grass, I will feed a 2 to 1 ration of grass hay to alfalfa hay. In the past I've done it the other way around. I like having the greater protein and TDN during the worst of the cold weather and then having a less protein and TDN during calving season. There is still adequate protein and energy but not enough to turn beef cows into almost dairy cows far as milk production.


IMO that is a great plan. Some kill them with kindness after calving.
We had relatives that let their first calf heifers get too thin. Their thought was that they would fatten them up after calving.
They called for molasses lick tubs. I asked what else they were feeding them and they said "all the second cutting alfalfa they could eat and some cake." My response was that they didn't need more protein. So that was the end of it, until another relative called after calving and he said he had a trailer load of calves that were "sh*tting and shivering." He was going to put the trailer in the heated shop and wondered what else he could do for the calves. I asked what they were feeding and yep, "all the second cutting alfalfa they could eat, cake and the molasses tubs they got from you." I told him they didn't get any tubs from me, because I told them they didn't need them. Long story short, I figured up what they were eating and it amounted to almost 7# protein/day. :shock:

Protein doesn't fatten; cattle can't gain weight after calving until they are out on green grass so they literally 'killed with kindness'. All that feed went to milk production which was deadly for the calves. They missed the time when they could have put some weight on their heifers safely and efficiently. And then there was the expense of it all.....the price of.cake and tubs....and the loss of doctoring sick calves and the ones they lost......needless to say, they didn't do that again,

My advice was to stop the tubs, stop the cake and get some GRASS HAY to dilute the alfalfa. They did that and it did help, but of course not immediately. They paid a high price for supplement and created a huge problem.

I like alfalfa and grass mixed. :D It makes a nice balanced feed. IMO and FWIW. :D
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Re: Alfalfa as supplement

Postby Triangle Bar » Tue Dec 20, 2016 9:19 pm

I like a grass alfalfa mix also.

I planted half a sprinkler quarter to an irrigated grass mix with some clover this past year. I can hay it or graze that way. I'm excited to see how it will produce. If it works good, I'm going to plant the other half.
Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and will dine with him, and he with Me. - Rev. 3:20



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Re: Alfalfa as supplement

Postby Brad S » Thu Dec 22, 2016 10:10 am

FH is absolutely correct that 10% total ration protein is adequate for dry cows in good flesh. Seems like we're always chasing flesh so I use a 12% target on dry cows.

I didn't realize tubs did a poor job of delivering mineral - I thought mineral delivery was the lone redemption for mineral tubs, but I'm quite certain FH knows the score in that area.

When FH says "don't know how to score corn silage," that's just one of those feed ingredients that's so variable it simply must be tested for feed value.

< $1 calves are coming, and this thread is valuable.


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