Drylot Feeding For Beef Cows
Conventional wisdom tells us that low-cost cow/calf operations are frequently characterized by minimal use of harvested feedstuffs. Letting cows harvest more of their own feed, through combinations of warm- and cool-season pastures, annual forage crops, and extensive utilization of field crop residues or stockpiled grass, can typically result in significant savings in the total feed bill.
On the other hand, successful cattle producers are becoming increasingly aware that profitability can hinge on their ability to adapt to ever-changing conditions, and a willingness to think ‘out of the box’ when necessary. For cow/calf operators, a serious evaluation of feeding options can sometimes call for an extreme shift away from a grazing-intense program. In fact, the industry is seeing a limited, but definitely increasing, number of producers feeding a winter drylot ration to their cows. This may be due to the current availability or price of different feeds, or a need or desire to get the cows off the pasture and/or closer to home. And this year, we will see a lot of animals forced in off their traditional grazing areas due to the drought.