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I’m going to be specific on this blog to beef cows and feeding for fattening. There is a difference in feeding beef/fattening cattle and dairy cows. This is another topic I’m going to try to not get into to much science details. I’ve had a lot of school and life experience feeding cattle.
If you are a beginner homesteader raising beef cows, it's essential to know how to feed them correctly. Unlike dairy cows, feeding beef cows is less complicated, but it still requires a bit of science, especially when you don't have access to year-round pasture grass. Feeding cows lacks year-round grazing is possible, provided you adhere to some essential nutritional requirements. The secret lies in providing the necessary macro and micro-nutrients to your cows, including proper protein supplements, minerals, and vitamins. Many micro-nutrients can be made by bacteria in the rumen of the cow. In this post, we will focus on the basics of feeding in the lack of year-round pasture access, aimed specifically at beginner homesteaders.
1. Start with Forage
Forage is the foundation of a cow's diet, even when you don't have access to pasture. Dry hay, silage, and other types of roughage are great sources of forage to replace pasture grass. It is imperative to ensure that the forage you choose contains the essential minerals and protein requirements. Generally, good quality forage will contain more than 50% proportion of total intake. Ensure that you provide adequate amounts of forage for your cows, depending on their weight and body condition score.
2. Add Supplements to meet Deficiencies
Cows require specific supplements, such as protein and minerals, to meet their nutritional needs. During the winter season, beef cows may need more energy and protein, especially for pregnant or lactating cows. You can supplement your cows' diet with alfalfa, soybean meal or cottonseed meal, but you need to ensure that you do not exceed the recommended dosage. Make sure that the supplements you choose provide the correct amounts of nutrients to meet your cows' protein and energy requirements. Cattle being fed for beef/fattening will require more energy and protein, than a cow in reproduction stage of her life.
3. Offer Salt and Mineral Lick Blocks
Minerals and vitamins are micronutrients that are essential for the growth and development of beef cows. They are needed in small amounts but are crucial for proper bodily functions. There are two types of minerals – macrominerals and microminerals. Macrominerals such as Potassium, Calcium, and Magnesium are needed in larger quantities, while microminerals such as Zinc, Copper, and Manganese are only needed in small quantities. These nutrients can be provided in the form of salt mineral supplements, which should be available to cows at all times.
4. Provide Water
Water is essential for cows as their bodies require it for various functions, such as digestion, metabolism and temperature control. During the winter season, cows may drink less water, but you need to ensure that they have access to clean water regularly. Generally, cows consume around 1-3 gallons of water for every 100 pounds of their weight.
5. Optimize Feeding Practices
To efficiently feed your beef cows without year-round pasture access, it's essential to optimize your feeding practices. You can feed your cows using a total mixed ration (TMR), in which all the ingredients are combined to meet their nutritional requirements. Additionally, you can feed your cows using a ration balancer that contains a combination of essential vitamins and minerals to supplement their diet.
Feeding beef cows isn’t rocket science, but it’s not quite as simple as feeding them some hay and grains. The key to ensuring the health and productivity of beef cows is providing a balanced diet that meets their nutritional needs, including proteins, minerals, and vitamins. Additionally, feeding them should be adjusted depending on the season and the needs of the cow's life stage. While grazing year-round is the easiest option, when that is not possible, supplements like soybean meal and mineral supplements can help meet their dietary needs. Understanding these basics can make a significant difference in your beef cow farming, and even beginner homesteaders can provide their cows with proper nutrition by using the tips outlined in this post. If you are wanting more information on specifics, join my free group for beginner homesteaders linked below. I go into way more detail there.
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I've had 3 very different pregnancies. After the first traumatic birth, I learned better and how to care for my body naturally and prevent common pregnancy and birth problems before they arise. This quick course will get you the tools you need to have a naturally healthy pregnancy, labor, and delivery. My first pregnancy I had a normal western medicine all the things pregnancy. My second? I flipped to completely natural, no medicine. Bonus: Preventing Preeclampsia Without the Aspirin & Healing from Birth Trauma
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