NADO Kenya technical fields team on the fields at sarman farm training local farmers on how to utilizes a limit fed,high grain diet fed on drylot session on how to sustained their livestock

  • Drought is a part of the normal production cycle. Dealing with these dry periods and decreased feed supplies needs to be part of the overall management plan.
  • In many cases, the best solution for cow/calf producers is to utilize a limit-fed, high grain diet fed in drylot or semi-confinement.
  • Substitute 1 pound of grain or other concentrate feed for 2 pounds of alfalfa hay or 3 pounds of grass hay.
  • Since intake on concentrate diets is restricted, cattle may appear gaunt and behave as though hungry, however after 14 to 21 days, they will adapt to the reduction in feed intake.

Drought conditions greatly reduce the available forage for livestock. They also impact forage and rangeland production across the state. Short and long-term ramifications will continue to affect the management of livestock. Livestock have been sold, or relocated out of state in record numbers; however, there are alternatives for the remaining population.

Alternative Feeding Options

When deciding on an alternative feeding program, there are several options to consider. The goal is to re-breed cows while maintaining calving intervals, maintain pounds of calf produced per cow, and minimize feed cost per pound of calf sold. When considering feed options, think about the following:

  • Design a feeding program to fully utilize local feeds,
  • Supplement low-quality feeds correctly,
  • Analyze forages and feed precisely,
  • Substitute 1 pound of grain or other concentrate feed for 2 pounds of alfalfa hay or 3 pounds of grass hay,
  • Carefully balance every ration against the animal’s requirements,
  • Make every effort to reduce feed losses,
  • Feed the highest quality feeds to animals that have higher feed requirements (i.e., growing replacement heifers or growing calves),
  • Feed the lower quality roughages to cows in the middle-third stage of pregnancy,
  • Save the better quality feeds for periods before and after calving, and
  • Treat low-quality roughages with various feed additives. Additives can improve palatability and feeding quality. 

Stretching the Hay Pile

Substitute 1 pound of grain or other concentrate feed for 2 pounds of alfalfa hay or 3 pounds of grass hay. Do not exceed grain feeding by 0.4 percent of the live body weight when forage is the major component of the diet. Grain is not always practical to feed, but there are ways to feed it even in pasture or rangeland situations. Many producers use barrels, gated pipe split in half, bunks, or old hog feeders mounted on a trailer. 

Relocating the cowherd into drylot is a management alterative that may allow producers to take advantage of grains and byproduct feeds.. Diets for drylot cows are formulated to meet the nutrient requirements of the cows while minimizing feed costs. As a result, intake is generally limited and more concentrate feeds are included to cheapen the diets.

Since intake on concentrate diets is restricted, cattle may appear gaunt and behave as though hungry. After 14 to 21 days, they will adapt to the reduction in feed intake, but they may continue to appear gaunt. Cattle should adapt to high-grain diets in seven to 10 days and should be observed closely during that time. A minimal amount of roughage is required to maintain rumen function. As a rule of thumb, cows should receive at least 0.5 percent of their body weight as roughage (90 percent dry matter basis). Thus, a 1,200 pound cow should receive at least 6 pounds of roughage per day.

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