What to grow as a complete suckler cow ration?

Hi everyone
I’m currently feeding my cows 14.5kg good Haylage, 5.5kg straw and minerals for their maintenance diet, I’ll start adding oats and protein as we near calving. My question is has anyone grown wholecrop oats as a complete feed for sucklers? I was thinking that if I left cutting it until it was almost ripe then it would be mainly straw as I don’t won’t to over feed my cows?
the issue I’m having is we grow very good grass here as all our fields are short term lays and I have to bulk it out with a lot of straw and it’s a lot of mixer work each day.
Does anyone grow a different crop as a complete feed for cows? I know I’ll have to add protein nearer calving but just try to make the job less time consuming! Any help much appreciated...
 

Hampton

Member
Location
Shropshire
Hi everyone
I’m currently feeding my cows 14.5kg good Haylage, 5.5kg straw and minerals for their maintenance diet, I’ll start adding oats and protein as we near calving. My question is has anyone grown wholecrop oats as a complete feed for sucklers? I was thinking that if I left cutting it until it was almost ripe then it would be mainly straw as I don’t won’t to over feed my cows?
the issue I’m having is we grow very good grass here as all our fields are short term lays and I have to bulk it out with a lot of straw and it’s a lot of mixer work each day.
Does anyone grow a different crop as a complete feed for cows? I know I’ll have to add protein nearer calving but just try to make the job less time consuming! Any help much appreciated...
What about wheat or barley instead? Higher in protein and also easier to whole crop as grains less likely to fall on floor
 

neilo

Member
Mixed Farmer
Location
Montgomeryshire
Hi everyone
I’m currently feeding my cows 14.5kg good Haylage, 5.5kg straw and minerals for their maintenance diet, I’ll start adding oats and protein as we near calving. My question is has anyone grown wholecrop oats as a complete feed for sucklers? I was thinking that if I left cutting it until it was almost ripe then it would be mainly straw as I don’t won’t to over feed my cows?
the issue I’m having is we grow very good grass here as all our fields are short term lays and I have to bulk it out with a lot of straw and it’s a lot of mixer work each day.
Does anyone grow a different crop as a complete feed for cows? I know I’ll have to add protein nearer calving but just try to make the job less time consuming! Any help much appreciated...

Harvesting whole crop when it’s nearly fit is doing the job properly, as most dairy farmers would. The starch level climbs rapidly as the grain ripens, so you would end up with a high fibre, high starch ration that would make the cows as fat as hell as it would be more akin to a finishing ration.

Can you not just cut the grass when it’s older, so the feed value is lower, the fibre higher and the cost per ton lower?
 

JSmith

Member
Livestock Farmer
Do they need anything other than the haylage an straw plus a mineral lick?? What type of cow are they? Sounds a lot of food for wintering a suckler cow to me but everyone’s situation is different I understand!! We are very light land here so suffer in the summer but can manage cows out all winter so lucky in that respect, cows have been on two six string bales of barley straw up to this week an just started on kale two days ago, 48 in that group, beef shorthorns an they look fit! A lim wouldn’t live with that but I haven’t got lim land
 

puppet

Member
Livestock Farmer
Location
sw scotland
Our sucklers just get silage and some mineral spread along the top. No mixer wagons. Only get straw if short of silage. Your good haylage should have good protein levels.
The philosophy is that the cow just gets through the winter in reasonable condition ready for grass.
 
Hi everyone
I’m currently feeding my cows 14.5kg good Haylage, 5.5kg straw and minerals for their maintenance diet, I’ll start adding oats and protein as we near calving. My question is has anyone grown wholecrop oats as a complete feed for sucklers? I was thinking that if I left cutting it until it was almost ripe then it would be mainly straw as I don’t won’t to over feed my cows?
the issue I’m having is we grow very good grass here as all our fields are short term lays and I have to bulk it out with a lot of straw and it’s a lot of mixer work each day.
Does anyone grow a different crop as a complete feed for cows? I know I’ll have to add protein nearer calving but just try to make the job less time consuming! Any help much appreciated...

We just feed ad-lib late June/early July cut haylage, to me it's a complete enough diet.
Cows calve down in good condition and are healthy.

Why add cereals pre-calving? To me that seems like a luxury
 

Optimus

Member
Our sucklers just get silage and some mineral spread along the top. No mixer wagons. Only get straw if short of silage. Your good haylage should have good protein levels.
The philosophy is that the cow just gets through the winter in reasonable condition ready for grass.
Were the same, an my silage isn't great either.was well past its best by the time we got to cut it last year.
 

Hampton

Member
Location
Shropshire
Mine get silage in front of them and around 750g barley poured in front of them out of a bag as a vehicle for the minerals.
They also get ad lib straw.
As soon as they calve the silage levels are upped until they go out
 
I don't think the extra proteins should be necessary as you approach calving, we actually go to lengths to prevent a protein spike before calving to prevent calf overgrowth in the cow.

Surely the same applies to energy also, as whacking loads of cereals into a cow in the last half of pregnancy could put a lot of weight on her if it isn't done carefully and then you end up with no end of grief with calving difficulties and the like?
 
Last edited:

Agrivator

Member
Haylage fed on a marginally restricted basis, plus straw ad lib in a ring feeder, is an ideal way of feeding suckler cows. And lean cows can be fed separately with Haylage to appetite.

In both cases, the straw seems to be an essential supplement to maintain a healthy digestive system.

Minerals should normally be unnecessary, but a high magnesium mineral nearer calving will help muscle tone and make for easier calving. There is also anecdotal evidence (someone on here?) that it keeps them quieter and less aggressive after calving.
 
Mine get silage in front of them and around 750g barley poured in front of them out of a bag as a vehicle for the minerals.
They also get ad lib straw.
As soon as they calve the silage levels are upped until they go out
Do they need the barley?
I just dust minerals on the top of the silage and outdoor cows get buckets.

Out of interest how do you up silage levels if they already have it in front of them?
Do you men you give them better silage or are they restricted pre calving?

Personally I put cows onto hay after they calve until the calf is sucking all 4 teats otherwise they just particularly dry themselves off.
 
Haylage fed on a marginally restricted basis, plus straw ad lib in a ring feeder, is an ideal way of feeding suckler cows. And lean cows can be fed separately with Haylage to appetite.

In both cases, the straw seems to be an essential supplement to maintain a healthy digestive system.

Minerals should normally be unnecessary, but a high magnesium mineral nearer calving will help muscle tone and make for easier calving. There is also anecdotal evidence (someone on here?) that it keeps them quieter and less aggressive after calving.
The emphasis on high Mg is mainly Ca driven.
 

Hampton

Member
Location
Shropshire
Do they need the barley?
I just dust minerals on the top of the silage and outdoor cows get buckets.

Out of interest how do you up silage levels if they already have it in front of them?
Do you men you give them better silage or are they restricted pre calving?

Personally I put cows onto hay after they calve until the calf is sucking all 4 teats otherwise they just particularly dry themselves off.
We give them a small amount of silage pre calving and then lift the amount, they always eat it all pre calving. You are probably right regarding minerals, but we feed them the same with regard to corn outside in summer and inside in winter and it’s more of a case of if it ain’t broke...
Not had a problem with calves not suck all tests.
We use clamp silage and it’s probably too good for our cows, but the fat stock get it too and it’s a big face. Tend to use poorer silage as a supplement in summer if we get shore of grass
 

Extreme Optimist

Member
Livestock Farmer
Its merely to help avoid cows that get aggressive due to low blood Mg which is mainly caused by reduced intakes at calving.
It wont stop naturally aggressive cows from being aggressive
I know. I was just being a touch sarcastic as I sent one down the road last week for being a touch on the psycho side!! Incidentally, her mother went the same way.
 
Harvesting whole crop when it’s nearly fit is doing the job properly, as most dairy farmers would. The starch level climbs rapidly as the grain ripens, so you would end up with a high fibre, high starch ration that would make the cows as fat as hell as it would be more akin to a finishing ration.

Can you not just cut the grass when it’s older, so the feed value is lower, the fibre higher and the cost per ton lower?
Thanks, trouble is my grass lays are going into wheat this year so can’t risk having any rye grass seeds shed!
 

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