The shortage of hay and high hay prices has evolved into a crisis on some Indiana livestock farms, especially those with beef cattle. Feeding $6 plus small square bales hay to mature beef cattle is a no-win proposition, but the real kicker is that there isn't a lot of hay out there to find anyway. As cattlemen turn to other forages, including low-quality grasses and corn stalks, specialists advise they make sure they understand that extra supplementation with minerals or other feedstuffs may be necessary.
"The goal is to keep cattle in shape, and not let their body condition decline," says Keith Johnson, Purdue University Extension forage specialist. Johnson will be one of two featured speakers at special meetings to be held on Monday, October 29. The meetings are slated for the Springville Feeder Auction on Indiana stat road 54 West in Lawrence County from 1 to 3 p.m. EDT, and at the Little York Stockyards, 10050 East Brush Road, Scottsburg, from 6 to 8 p.m.
John Johns, University of Kentucky Animal Sciences specialist, will present feeding options, based on what forages you might have available. A county agent, Dave Redman, Lawrence County, has sampled various forages, including CRP hay and corn stalks, and will display his findings at the workshop as well.
These meetings are sponsored by the Purdue Extension Service. Counties cooperating to promote and conduct these special programs include Clark, Crawford, Floyd, Lawrence, Harrison, Orange, Scott and Washington.
Johnson will set the stage at each meeting, updating pasture conditions and discussing what forage options there may or may not be. Then Johns will get down to the nitty-gritty of what it will take to keep cows in condition if you're using a certain feedstuff.
Once concern is whether those not used to feeding corn stalks to beef cattle will sock in ample supplies. Cattle can waste a significant amount, turning it into little more than bedding, Johnson says. The other biggest concern is that cattlemen won't test their forage, but instead just rely on average values, or none at all. Even within a forage substitute, such as corn stalks, there can be wide variation. Johnson urges cattlemen to consider sampling their own forage and having it tested for nutrient levels. That provides a base of information fro making decisions on how cattle should be fed during the rest of the winter to maintain body condition.
To learn more about the meetings, call 1-888-EXT-INFO, or contact one fo the county Extension offices sponsoring the meetings.