Calculate how much hay a cow needs for the winter is not as easy as it seems at first glance. The calculations must take into account the age of the animal, and its weight, as well as existing or future milk yield. But, determining the right amount, do not forget about the nutritional properties of the product. If the grass mown at the right time is prepared for storage in accordance with the technology, then the feed will need less than its counterpart of poor quality. It is here that the farmer should think about whether it makes sense to save.
When is it better to mow the grass
In winter, one of the main types of food for cattle meat is hay, which refers to various types of herbs dried for long-term storage. For dairy cows, this product is about 30-35% of the diet. Legumes have the greatest nutritional value, but in the amount collected per unit of area, the cereals surpass them.
The main advantage of grass of the legume family is the high content of protein in them. Usually the following types of plants go to the hay that a cow eats with pleasure:
To get the maximum amount of alfalfa, it is in a hurry to mow in the flowering phase. And if the goal is the high quality of future hay, then even earlier, while the flowers are in buds. This grass is good because it can be cleaned 2-3 times per season, and 4-5 in southern areas.
It is possible to determine how much a bean hay cow needs for the winter by simple arithmetic operations. We count on 3-4 kg per day for every 100 kg of the weight of the cow. As a result, we obtain that for an animal with a mass of 500 kg, 15-20 kg of hay per day is needed. Of course, if there is another food in the menu.
Assuming that the winter period lasts unequal amount of time in different regions, farmers will have to harvest hay in unequal quantities. Where the period of the cold season is 6 months, 2.5-3.6 tons of hay should be prepared. And where winter lasts 8 months (for the calculation we take 240 days), it is necessary from 3.6 to 4.8 tons. In this calculation it is assumed that the daily milk yield is 14 liters of milk.
It is believed that you can keep the cows so that they eat only one dry grass. But we do not recommend saving too much. This kind of food will not lead to anything good. And you will never get big yields or solid mass gain from a cow, if she eats only hay. Read more about the rules of nutrition, read the articles: "The diet of feeding dairy cattle" and "The diet of cattle during fattening."
Quantitative indicators for all cases
The above calculations are the basis of the food supply, from which you need to make a start when drawing up the diet for the winter. In fact, in addition, it is necessary to take into account very many nuances.
The first is the physiological condition of the cow. For example, during lactation, the amount of hay should be 25% of the total feed. It is desirable that it be harvested from legumes, which do not have high milk-bearing properties, but improve the quality of milk due to the large number of nutrients.
For a dry cow, the total percentage of hay is increased to 50, in order to help the cow completely to stop milk yield. In the last days before childbirth, the reduction of succulent feed is compensated by additional portions of hay.
When feeding for meat to a young bull, 30 kg of hay per day will be needed, and a bull for a producer will need 10-15 kg. To ensure that animals with herd content in pens do not trample on food, they use special feeders, where whole rolls of dry grass are placed.
This method gives the possibility of continuous access to livestock, because cows, like ruminants, are eaten almost constantly.
Useful, but in moderation
Practice shows that for a cow with a calf for the winter it takes up to 50 centners of hay. Such a large amount helps reduce the cost of other products. But, again, this does not mean that animals should be kept on the same dry grass. Food should be varied. If a cow eats only hay, it immediately affects the amount of milk yield.
Constant control over how much a cow eats, allows you to adjust the diet depending on the mass of animals or the size of milk yields. This is necessary to protect cattle from disease. For example, if a cow has harvested 5 tons of bean hay for a year, and she eats 50 kg each day, then it is realistic to develop ketosis or other diseases associated with the gastrointestinal tract. In this mode, no grass eaten will benefit; it only harms.
Consider the fact that bean hay is difficult to store for a long time. Therefore, counting on the amount of feed for the winter, it will be rational to include in the menu haylage from the same legumes, which can last up to several years. Compulsory in the diet and straw, which is also used as bedding.
Adjust protein balance
The amount of hay from cereal crops (oats, grains, timothy grass, barley), which the cow eats during the winter, differs slightly from the norms that are provided for legumes. When the stems of plants become dry, the content of nutrients in them is reduced by 30-40%. And since there is less protein in cereals than in leguminous plants, then, accordingly, it will be less in dried form.
Therefore, switching to hay from cereals, the rate per day should be increased by about one-fourth. This will keep the intake of protein in the body of the cow in the same volume. The same applies to the product obtained from herbs.
Approximate figures for harvesting different types of hay for the winter (6 months duration) are listed in the table:
How to choose a good hay
The quality of hay depends on how dried it is. The oldest, but still effective way, is the treatment of the sun and wind in the open air. For mowing and use the manual way oblique or self-propelled mowers, which are attached to the tractors.
The cut hay remains on the field, it is turned over several times a day, ensuring complete drying. For further storage, dry grass is collected in stacks and rolled into rolls. The principle of “the drier the better” is not working here. Properly made hay has a green color, and does not break when twisting.
But after drying, the bright green color has only cereal grasses - timothy grass, couch grass, sweet clover, fenders. It is this sign indicates a good quality. However, if you see brown hay, it does not mean that it is bad. Most likely, this is a clover. And if the color of hay is bluish, then sedge is clearly contained in its composition.
If you see that the product has a yellow color, it means that the grass was mowed too late. Such hay does not have a pleasant smell peculiar to it, and it is not worth buying a similar feed for the winter for your own cow. Remember that the animal can eat and spoiled the product, thereby condemning itself to torment.
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Tell us in the comments if you feed your cow with hay and which one she prefers.