Cold reality of winter feeding

What would possess 45 people to stand in the bitter Saskatchewan wind for two hours on a December afternoon? It was the chance to learn how to keep some of their hard-earned cash.

The Western Beef Development Centre hosted a Winter Grazing Field Day in early December at the Termuende Research Ranch near Lanigan, Sask. Beef producers saw first hand, ongoing research projects whose implementations could very well shave a sizeable chunk off their feed bills.

The afternoon began in the barn with a brief overview from Dr. Bart Lardner, senior research scientist at the Termuende Research Ranch, and then it was out to the fields. Speakers at the field sites included Dr. Lardner (WBDC), Dr. Jeff Schoenau (U of S) and graduate students, Amanda van de Kerckhove and Amber Smith.

Four projects were visited during the afternoon: Supplementing Straw-Chaff Grazing with Dry Distillers’ Grains and Solubles (DDGS) for Beef Cows; Backgrounding Calves on Swath Grazing Barley or Millet Crops; Backgrounding Calves on Bale Grazing with DDGS; and Nutrient Export from a Winter Bale Grazing Site for Cows. (See details K & C item Page 18)

The data gathered from the research projects toured shows that in-field feeding or grazing beef cattle during the winter can reduce costs of keeping beef cows or backgrounding calves, and thus can result in keeping some cash in the producers’ pockets by reducing feed handling, yardage, and manure hauling costs.

Dr. Lardner advised producers that, when using in-field feeding, they work with a nutritionist to ensure adequate energy and protein is available when using of straw and chaff or DDGS for their beef cows. Also recognized by participants during the windy afternoon of the field tours, was the necessity of windbreaks to shelter the animals in colder weather.

For more information on these, or other research projects at the ranch, visit the WBDC website at www.wbdc.sk.ca

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