Can Cows Eat Only Hay?

can cows eat only hay

If you’re planning on raising beef cows, one of the first questions you’ll have to answer is, “Can cows eat only hay?” Thankfully, the answer to this question is “yes,” and there are many different kinds of hay you can choose from. The two most popular hays are Alfalfa and Timothy hay, but there are also other types of hay you can feed to your cows.

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Alfalfa hay

Many producers feed alfalfa hay as a protein supplement. The nutritional value of the alfalfa hay varies greatly depending on the growing conditions and maturity at harvest. It is important to consider the quality of the alfalfa hay and the feeding method before selecting the hay for use.

Alfalfa hay is a high protein and highly digestible forage. It is considered the best type of forage available. A good ration of alfalfa hay promotes total health in animals. Providing it as a protein supplement can be beneficial to both the animal and the farmer.

Alfalfa hay was fed to three heifers at the California Agricultural Experiment Station during two lactations. In the first lactation, the cows ate 1.7 pounds of alfalfa hay per pound of milk. During the second lactation, the consumption was reduced by about a quarter. During the third lactation, the amount of hay consumed was about a third less.

Some records indicate that a full-feed ration provided sufficient nutrients to meet moderate production demands. Nevertheless, milk production was only half of what it should have been.

The ration was also a bit bulky. When a high-producing cow was fed it, she was unable to consume enough of the hay. This may have been due to the age of the cow.

Timothy hay

Timothy hay, also known as common cat’s tail, is a cool season perennial grass that grows well in the northeast. It is also commonly used as animal feed, especially for dairy cows.

It is high in energy and low in protein. This makes it an ideal feed for pregnant cows. Besides, it is easy to digest and helps prevent hypocalcemia.

The first crop of timothy is usually harvested in the spring. However, this harvest date is influenced by many factors.

Early-cut timothy yielded approximately 2 to 9 tons per acre, depending on the variety and other factors. But, it is important to note that late-cut hay has poor energy digestibility.

When used as a complete feed program, timothy hay can be a good addition to a diet of legumes. However, grazing timothy is not recommended until it has reached jointing.

Timothy hay is also an excellent feed for horses. Horses are able to digest timothy easily. Also, it is rich in fiber and helps to maintain bowel regularity. In addition, it is a great source of dietary protein for less active horses.

Dairy cows are fed concentrate-supplemented timothy hay at early-bloom and at late-boot. This is because timothy has a high energy content and is easily digested.

Feeding concentrate diets to beef cows

Feeding concentrate diets to beef cows is a cost-effective alternative to feeding forage. However, to be successful, the diets must contain sufficient amounts of essential nutrients.

The concentration and quality of protein should be adequate. Cows should receive at least 15 percent crude protein, preferably moderately-high. Protein is made up of amino acids, and must be metabolized to be used as energy.

In addition to providing the required energy, a diet should also contain enough minerals. Cattle may suffer from a lack of certain minerals, particularly calcium and phosphorus. These are critical to overall herd health.

When evaluating cattle nutrition, pay attention to the amount of vitamin D, a necessary ingredient for proper calcium absorption. Vitamin E may also be useful, especially if calves are co-mingled.

Several types of concentrate feed are available, including corn gluten feed, wheat straw, and soybean hulls. They can be fed dry or wet. Corn is a good choice for a high-protein diet. Wheat straw takes time to digest and is low in energy. It is a good alternative for a high-protein, low-starch diet.

In terms of mineral content, corn gluten feed is a good choice. It is a by-product from the wet milling industry. Grape juice concentrate is another high-fiber, low-ash, high-protein option.