Your Shopping Cart

You have no items in your shopping cart.

Read About Livestock Feeding in Winter

Livestock feeding in winter differs from other times of year due to seasonal changes in pastures and the available foraging for livestock. Additional water runoff from snowfall can also affect pasture lands, making it important to have a specially designed plan for livestock feeding in winter.

Cold weather changes the nutritional needs for livestock somewhat, depending on how cold the temperatures get. In colder weather, animals need more energy to maintain their body temperatures, so high quality feed Imageis important. Since most pasture grasses slow their growth considerably in the fall months, there is less available fresh grass for grazing in the winter. Most livestock feeding in winter involves baled hay and grass, along with good quality commercial feed.

If your plan for livestock feeding in winter includes using baled hay, be sure it is green and fresh. The outside of the bales may be bleached by the sun to a light gold color, but the inside of the bale should be fresh-smelling and clean. If the entire bale is yellow and coarse, the hay was probably left too long in the field before being cut. While it is still safe to feed to your livestock, it is not as good a choice nutritionally as fresher hay would be. Hay that is brown, black, or musty smelling is not only poor livestock nutrition, but could actually be harmful to your animals.

Another option for livestock feeding in winter is to cut but not bale hay in the fall. Allowing the hay to lie in the field in windrows allows cattle to graze on the cut hay right where it lays. This reduces labor costs considerably and makes winter feeding much more economical. One concern about this method is cattle eating in the snow. Cattle tend not to push away snow with their paws, but will usually move their noses around in the snow to locate a food source. Once located, they will use their noses to expose the food and there are no problems eating. If the snow is extremely heavy or crusted with ice, cattle may have a harder time with this; driving a tractor along the windrows to break up the snow will help considerably.

Ensure plenty of clean, fresh drinking water during the winter months.Image Depending on temperatures, water troughs may need to be checked several times a day to ensure ice has not formed in the troughs.

A specific plan for livestock feeding in winter will ensure your herd thrives even in the colder months. Proper nutrition is critical for the well-being of your animals, and additional nutrients in colder weather help your livestock maintain their core temperatures better.