Current Progressive Cattle digital edition

Feed & Nutrition

Learn about all aspects of cattle nutrition from harvest and storage to balancing rations with forage, byproducts and supplements.


Editor’s note: The first of a two-part series. Click here to read the second part.

When you think about August, the first thing that comes to mind is the three letter word “hot.”

While it is hot and dry in most regions right now, if you were to ask a true optimist what August means he would respond, with a sparkle in his eye, something along the lines of the following:

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As I put this article together in mid-June, much of the central and eastern Corn Belt is in need of precipitation.

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The summer sun provides a reprieve from cold winters in the North and a change of pace from mild temperatures in the South but can be detrimental to lactating cattle if not managed properly.

Feeding routines, ration adjustments and consideration of feed additives can keep cows productive while temperatures sizzle.

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Feed is a significant portion of annual production costs in a cow-calf operation.

These high costs make a supplement strategy with price control guidelines an important part of the management plan.

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Summer annuals are often used by cattle producers for summer grazing or harvested for hay. Plants such as Sorghum-Sudan hybrids, Sorgo-Sudan hybrids, Sudan-Sudan hybrids and millets all fall in this category.

These summer crops can be very productive and high quality but can also accumulate toxic levels of nitrate when stressed. The heat and dry weather of the past two weeks has caused many of these plants to become very stressed.

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We all hope that the severe drought of 2011 is over. If it is, we need to use what we learned and write a preparation plan for the next one.

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