Effects of Three Hay Feeding Methods on Cow Performance and Wintering Cost

Effects of Three Hay Feeding Methods on Cow Performance and Wintering Cost

March 2007

The primary objective of this 3-year North Dakota Univ. project was to compare the effects of three different hay feeding methods on cow wintering cost. The three methods were: 1) Round bales fed by rolling bales on the ground; 2) Round bales shredded with a power takeoff-driven bale processor and fed on the ground; and 3) Round bales fed by placing the bale in a tapered-cone round bale feeder. Cows were in their third trimester of pregnancy, and were on feed for an average of 59 days. Alfalfa grass hay was fed during the first two years, whereas oat hay was fed in the third year.

Compared with treatments 1 and 2, feeding bales in a tapered-cone feeder significantly increased cow wt. gain; resulted in greater positive rib fat gain; reduced hay consumption an average of 10.2%; and reduced hay waste in the two years of the study when alfalfa-grass hay was fed, but not when oat hay was fed. Average cost per cow over the 3-year period for a 100-cow herd were $109.00, $127.00, and $100.30 for treatments 1, 2, and 3, respectively. Under the conditions of this study, feeding round bales in a tapered-cone feeder clearly had an advantage over the other two methods (Landblom et al. 2006. North Dakota State Univ. Beef Cattle and Range Research Report).

Rick Rasby Dr. Rick Rasby, Professor of Animal Science
Animal Science, University of Nebraska - Lincoln, Lincoln, NE