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Study shows heifers don’t have to be pigs at the feed bunk

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LCP

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This article also ran in the Cattle Business Weekly this week.

http://billingsgazette.com/business/article_f9efbe15-ebe6-560f-923d-c9633e64e640.html

In my search for an easier way to feed calves over the winter, I'm now wondering if I could just carry half as many buckets and get by with it. Our heifer calves get free choice grass/alfalfa hay (not ground) and I bucket 3.5-4 lb of corn/DDG (75/25). Perhaps I could get by with less.
 

Faster horses

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I think I mentioned to you in an earlier thread, that we fed our
replacement heifers only grass hay. Granted, it was the best we
had (meaning that it was finer, being some of the
earliest we cut) and mineral
and they did just fine. Many times I wanted to feed them a
supplement of some kind, as we used to, but we didn't and
really, they did just fine. They weren't fat, but they were in
good shape in the spring and they went right on to gain and
breed up. We only bred them for 30 days. They weighed right
up with all the other heifers in the fall after being bred.
I can't see we lost anything
and it sure beat packing all those buckets. A couple of year,
when we were still giving them something extra, we found
naked oats and fed them. It didn't take much of them so that
made less buckets to carry.

Here we fed them on the ground once a day. It's nice if you can feed
them twice a day, but we weren't set up to do that. We had
a bunk type fence line feeder in SW Montana and every time you
pitched it up, they'd come to eat. So that helps too, feeding
them more than once a day.

I'll see if I have any pictures of our heifers. Not sure I do.
 
A

Anonymous

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Justin said:
i winter mine the same as FH, grass hay and mineral. IMO, they do just fine.

Same here... Years ago I used to lot and grain them all winter-but about 8 years ago the snow was so deep I couldn't keep a trail broke to their lot- so turned them loose with the cow herd...Heifers did fine- bred up good...So since then I've only fed the heifers a small amount of grain for about a months time at weaning (and more for the reason to get used to someone walking thru them and gentle them than anything else)- and from then on they go with the cow herd either grazing or being fed hay....
 

Shortgrass

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Same here, only I use alfalfa. I'll bet you can forget the corn entirely and stick to the grass/alfalfa hay & mineral with great results. Remember free advice is worth everything it costs!
 

WyomingRancher

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Oldtimer said:
Justin said:
i winter mine the same as FH, grass hay and mineral. IMO, they do just fine.

Same here... Years ago I used to lot and grain them all winter-but about 8 years ago the snow was so deep I couldn't keep a trail broke to their lot- so turned them loose with the cow herd...Heifers did fine- bred up good...So since then I've only fed the heifers a small amount of grain for about a months time at weaning (and more for the reason to get used to someone walking thru them and gentle them than anything else)- and from then on they go with the cow herd either grazing or being fed hay....

Same here... and I can't believe I used to do it any other way. Last year I did have them in a separate pasture, more or less for pasture distribution reasons. I caked them on days they could graze, and fed them alfalfa/grass hay on days the ground was covered up. They eventually went back in with their mothers post-calving, and I didn't have any trouble with them trying to nurse anything... if anything, they didn't like being with pairs, and would go off on their own most of the time.

The best part is they become socialized, and don't act as much like silly calves. If you're set-up to give it a try, I'd go for it... I also strongly believe it sets them up for better feed efficiency later in life :D .
 

Denny

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I would bet you guys are feeding dairy quality hay to your cows I don't so I keep my heifers seperate.I think you need to step back and see that if your heifers can gain all winter on what your cows are consumeing your feeding quite heavy most likely overfeeding the whole herd to save a little on the heifers.I feed alot of low meadow hay and the rest is mixed upland with corn silage. I have no alfalfa it does'nt grow well here unless you have deep pockets and don't mind replanting every 5 years or so.
 

Faster horses

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We kept ours separate too, Denny.
Just look at the difference in the size of the mouth
between a weaned heifer calf and a cow. The heifer
has to unfaily compete for feed against those
old girls, is our thought.
At times we put an old cow or two with them and that
sure settled them down, kinda gave them a leader.
We don't have much alfalfa hay here either, and feeding
grass hay gave us no problems bloating, being loose, etc.
It's really safe to feed. It would be nice if it had a little
alfalfa in it, but ours hardly ever did.
 

WyomingRancher

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Denny said:
I would bet you guys are feeding dairy quality hay to your cows I don't so I keep my heifers seperate.I think you need to step back and see that if your heifers can gain all winter on what your cows are consumeing your feeding quite heavy most likely overfeeding the whole herd to save a little on the heifers.I feed alot of low meadow hay and the rest is mixed upland with corn silage. I have no alfalfa it does'nt grow well here unless you have deep pockets and don't mind replanting every 5 years or so.

I see your point, but I don't believe that's the case here. When the heifers were separated, they averaged roughly 12 pounds of alfalfa grass mixed hay/day plus what they could graze during normal weather... or a few pounds of cake a day if it was mild and the ground was open... they actually didn't want much hay when the ground was open. When they were put back in with their mothers, they were mostly on grass or alfalfa/grass hay since I don't like feeding straight alfalfa to pairs. As for the amount, it's hard to say, but the cows/heifers were fed roughly 20 pounds of hay/day plus grazing (more obviously during bad weather). It's hard to say exactly how much the heifers actually ate apiece, but they seemed to get by just fine, and the cattle cleaned the hay up appropriately. I don't believe they were ever overfed, but never were neglected either. We purchase a lot of hay, so I feel my hay weight estimates are fairly close.
 

Denny

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WyomingRancher said:
Denny said:
I would bet you guys are feeding dairy quality hay to your cows I don't so I keep my heifers seperate.I think you need to step back and see that if your heifers can gain all winter on what your cows are consumeing your feeding quite heavy most likely overfeeding the whole herd to save a little on the heifers.I feed alot of low meadow hay and the rest is mixed upland with corn silage. I have no alfalfa it does'nt grow well here unless you have deep pockets and don't mind replanting every 5 years or so.

I see your point, but I don't believe that's the case here. When the heifers were separated, they averaged roughly 12 pounds of alfalfa grass mixed hay/day plus what they could graze during normal weather... or a few pounds of cake a day if it was mild and the ground was open... they actually didn't want much hay when the ground was open. When they were put back in with their mothers, they were mostly on grass or alfalfa/grass hay since I don't like feeding straight alfalfa to pairs. As for the amount, it's hard to say, but the cows/heifers were fed roughly 20 pounds of hay/day plus grazing (more obviously during bad weather). It's hard to say exactly how much the heifers actually ate apiece, but they seemed to get by just fine, and the cattle cleaned the hay up appropriately. I don't believe they were ever overfed, but never were neglected either. We purchase a lot of hay, so I feel my hay weight estimates are fairly close.

I see where your coming from thats why I hope these guys wondering relate feeding their heifers to the type of winters and feed availiable. Myself I have no winter grazeing as of Nov 4th they will be all at home which is 80 acres.I have enough grazeing for a couple weeks.Cows will eat lowground swamp grass until the first of the year. I do have alot of silage so this winter we'll be pushing them on silage to get it fed up.I did'nt mean you were over feeding just the quality of the hay has to be pretty good in order for a heifer to maintain and gain where as a cow in 2nd trimester could get by on a rougher ration saving some money in the end.We can feed alot of silage and have and thats not fool proof either 2 winters ago my silage was 75% moisture I fed them all they wanted and they did'nt gain at all. Near as I could tell they did'nt have enough capacity to eat enough water to grow. This year I let the corn dry down before chopping a drier ration I'm hopeing is the answer to my feeding problem.I plant corn to get rid of some hay ground as it is I'm still haying well into september most years a one man crew goes kinda slow.Silage and swamp hay mix well.
 

WyomingRancher

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Denny said:
I see where your coming from thats why I hope these guys wondering relate feeding their heifers to the type of winters and feed availiable.

...not to mention type of cattle they're running. It doesn't hurt to have some common sense when trying to figure it out :wink: :D .
 

rem_243

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We just got done testing our heifers. About 1/3 of them were fed chopped hay and 3-4# of oats daily until May 5 when they were turned out on grass. About 2/3 of them were fed free choice hay in bale feeders, and fed 1# of oats per day until April 15, then we quit feeding oats. The conception rate on these two groups was within .5%, with the heifers being fed the 1# of oats having the 0.5% more opens. The heifers fed free choice hay were fed mostly grass hay with some alfalfa, with a straight alfalfa bale every once in awhile. Some of the hay was also 2 year old hay.
 

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