Feeding cattle can seem to be a simple thing. Just spread some hay out there and the cows will be good, right?
Nope. You have to realize what hay is- it is energy and nutrition. This is how our cows get all of those essential vitamins and minerals and the calories for energy. There are things that will affect the quality of nutrients in our hay, things like the soil it is grown in, the amount of water it gets while it grows, and lots of other stuff.
After we grow our hay we (or our friend, The Cenex Man) usually take forage samples and have the hay analyzed to determine its quality, especially the quality of the vitamins and minerals. This is like our baseline for what our cows are getting and then we can know where we need to supplement.
About a year ago we really kicked in the supplementing game and oh boy it has made a difference. Our cows are in great condition and bred up better than they have in a while.
The nutrition of our cows is HUGE because it directly influences our calf crop- a healthy momma is more likely to get bred on her first cycle, which means she will calve earlier in the season, giving our calves a longer time to nurse. Her milk will most likely have more nutrients to pass to her calf to help him be stronger and healthier.
Ya, nutrition is SUPER important! 'Feeding' is a lot more than what it used to be when you consider that it includes putting out mineral, salt, and liquid protein.
And lets not forget that it is a great chance for this momma (that gets cabin fever WAY too often) to get out of the house. I guess I have my own reasons that I support the extra nutrition we give the cows!