MMM 370 August 7, 1998

Drought Feeding Strategies
H.D. Hupp, Animal and Veterinary Sciences
J.W. Irwin, Laurens County Extension Agent
P.J. Rathwell, Extension Ag. Economist

In drought conditions, when pasture quality is poor, you need to develop a plan of action to care for your cattle. First estimate the amount of feed you have on hand. Figure the daily requirements you need to carry your cattle. If you are going to run out before next year, start stretching your supplies and looking for alternative feed sources.

Consider using extenders such as equal parts of corn, soybean hulls and cottonseed hulls. The analysis of such a feed mix is about 8.6% crude protein, 30% fiber and 42% TDN. This feed is equivalent to an average quality hay. Feeding a 1,000 lb. cow up to 25 lbs. of this feed should serve as the maximum amount offered per day. This amount should obviously be lower if some hay or forage is available. A second formulation of equal parts corn and cottonseed hulls can be used as a limited supplement. A feeding rate of 8 to 10 lbs. per cow is suggested to help extend the life of available pastures and hay supply.

There are other by-product feeds that can be used as well. A list includes, but is not limited to the following: corn gluten, hominy, wheat midds, citrus pulp, peanut hulls, soybean hulls, stale bread & cookies from a bakery thrift store, and brewers grains. A note to consider on brewers grain, brewers grain is delivered by brewery companies (or contract haulers) in bulk dump trailers and contain a high moisture content (75-78% water). Handling of brewers grain requires advanced planning and usually blending with other feedstuffs to improve palatability. Consult your County Extension office for more information on by-product feeds and remember to do cost/analysis comparisons before you buy to make sure you're paying a reasonable price for emergency feedstuffs.

MINERALS

It is important to provide minerals and salt to the cattle at all times of the year and especially during a drought. During drought, phosphorus supplementation is even more critical. Try using a mixture of equal parts salt and dicalcium phosphate free choice to the cow herd.

VITAMIN A

Vitamin A (carotene) is deficient in forages growing under drought conditions or hay made from drought affected forages. The younger the animal the quicker the deficiency will show up. Give cows a Vitamin A & D booster within a month of calving. Also give the newborn calves a booster.

PROTEIN

Drought dormant pasture also may be deficient in protein. Reduced pregnancy rates can occur at this time. Give dry cows 0.5 to .75 pounds of crude protein while nursing cows will need 0.9 to 1.2 pounds. Sunflower meal, safflower meal, as well as other protein meals may be used

ENERGY

Energy may be the most limiting nutrient during a drought. Grain, hay, and by-products can be used to provide the energy. A general rule of thumb is not to feed more than 2.5% body weight as supplemental grain. More than this will affect forage digestibility.

ALTERNATIVE FEEDS

Hay, pasture, and traditional supplements during a drought are often expensive. Using alternative feeds can reduce your feed cost. Whether you use commodities or complete feed, you will be better able to compete if you buy in bulk to avoid the handling charges of bags. A fully loaded truck will be 45,000 to 50,000 pounds. Commodities are usually bulky and not suited for storage bins. And, it is advisable to use open-front sheds that are large enough to handle a truckload. If you have 75 cows and will be feeding them about 10 pounds a day then a 45,000 pound load will last you 60 days.

The goal is to provide the type and amount of supplement that will maintain weight and condition without reducing forage intake or digestion. High fiber energy feeds like soy hulls, wheat midds, corn gluten feed or brewer's grain can be fed at higher levels than corn, barley, or wheat. Limit intake on cows to about 8 pounds/day and 4 pounds/day for 500 pound calves

The following table shows the feeding value and cost per pound of feed, TDN (Total Digestible Nutrients) and Crude Protein (CP). Here is how the table was developed. First get the nutrient value of each ingredient along with their market value. To calculated. $/lb take the cost of the ingredient divided by the pounds of the unit. Corn for an example: $3.40 / bu divided by 56 lbs/bu gives $.061/pound. To calculate $/lb TDN take the pound cost of the ingredient divided by the percent TDN. Again using corn: $.061/lb divided by .87 (87% TDN) = $0.07 /lb TDN. Correspondingly for CP $.061/lb divided by .10 (10% CP) = $0.605 /lb CP. After you have determined the unit prices, you can then evaluate which ingredient is most economical for what you need TDN or CP.

An example will help illustrate this concept. Assume you have adequate dried forage from pasture sources. However, energy to maintain your cows is limited. Under these costs and products the cheapest $/lb TDN is corn silage at $0.026 and the most expensive is 48% SBM at $ 0.123. The cheapest source $/lb CP is Broiler Litter at $0.068 and the most expensive is Cotton Fiber by-products at $0.813. Feed balanced diets and do not over feed. County Extension Offices can get help balance rations if necessary.

Feeding Value and Cost per Pound of Feed, TDN and Crude Protein
Product % TDN % CP $/unit Unit $/ lb $ /lb TDN $ /lb CP
Ground shelled corn 87% 10% 3.40 Bu 0.061 0.070 0.607
48% SBM 81% 54% 200.00 Ton 0.100 0.123 0.185
Hominy feed 92% 12% 132.00 Ton 0.066 0.072 0.550
Grain screenings 70% 14% 108.00 Ton 0.054 0.077 0.386
Wheat midds 80% 19% 130.00 Ton 0.065 0.081 0.342
Dried Brewers 66% 26% 127.00 Ton 0.064 0.096 0.244
Dry corn Gluten 82% 28% 149.00 Ton 0.075 0.091 0.266
Soy Hulls 75% 14% 121.00 Ton 0.061 0.081 0.432
Cookie meal 97% 10% 121.00 Ton 0.061 0.062 0.605
Broiler litter 40% 22% 25.00 Ton 0.015 0.038 0.068
Whole cotton 87% 22% 145.00 Ton 0.073 0.083 0.330
Ground wheat 86% 14% 129.00 Ton 0.065 0.075 0.461
Ground barley 80% 12% 118.00 Ton 0.059 0.074 0.492
Excellent hay 65% 16% 100.00 Ton 0.050 0.077 0.313
Medium hay 55% 10% 82.00 Ton 0.041 0.075 0.410
Cotton Seed 77% 44% 175.00 Ton 0.088 0.114 0.199
Peanut hulls 22% 8% 38.00 Ton 0.019 0.086 0.238
Cottonseed hulls 42% 4% 60.00 Ton 0.030 0.071 0.750
Corn silage 68% 7% 36.00 Ton 0.018 0.026 0.257
Sorghum Silage 60% 7% 32.00 Ton 0.016 0.027 0.229
Cotton Fiber
by-prdct
50% 4% 65.00 Ton 0.033 0.065 0.813

USING POULTRY LITTER

When processed by an acceptable method, poultry litter is an economical and safe source of protein, minerals and energy for beef cattle. Grain and poultry litter (40-45% of mix) can reduce the pasture demands by 20-40% for cows. However, young calves under 300 pounds can not utilize this type of ration efficiently.

The best result with feeding poultry litter is with the deep stacking process or ensiling it along with a forage crop. A 6 page article on "Deep Stacking Broiler Liter As A Feed For Beef Cattle" can be found at http://www.ces.ncsu.edu/drought/dro-49.html . The Southern Region Beef Management Handbook has two articles, Secton 2007 "Feeding Poultry Liter to Beef Cattle" and Section 2007a "Deep Stacking Liter as a Feed for Beef Cattle".

The following two tables list the nutrient content of broiler litter and turkey litter and the MAXIMUM amount of poultry waste that should be in diets of various classes of beef cattle.

NUTRIENT COMPOSITION OF POULTRY WASTE
ITEM (%) BROILER LITTER TURKEY LITTER
Dry Matter 75 % 81%
Crude Protein 32 18
TDN 55 45

RECOMMENDED LEVELS OF POULTRY WASTE AS A PERCENT OF THE DIET
Classes of Cattle MAXIMUM Level Classes of Cattle MAXIMUM Level
Feedlot Cattle 25-30% Dry Cows 80%
Replacement heifers 40 % First Calf Heifers 60%
Stocker Cattle 50% Nursing Cattle 60 %

AMMONIATION OF LOW QUALITY ROUGHAGES

Ammoniation works best on low quality forages such a straw, corn stover, and very mature, low quality grasses. Ammoniation can double or triple the crude protein and can boost consumption by 15-20%. Phosphorus, trace minerals and Vitamin A should be added to the diet when ammoniated residues are fed. Residues treated with anhydrous ammonia are not very effective on thin cows. Cows can maintain their weight and condition until 50 days prior to calving when additional supplementation may be required. The best results occur when residues are 10-20% moisture. For more information on the process, safety precautions and cost see http://www.ag.ndsu.nodak.edu/drought/ds-9-97.htm.

LEASING LAND

It may be possible to lease additional pasture land and move some of your cattle there to reduce the stocking rate of your fields.

DRYLOT

During extreme condition, you may have to move cows to a drylot area. It may be more economical to concentrate cattle by feeding large amounts of supplements. Doing this will also let the pastures rest.


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updated 8/11/98