Feeding Grass-fed Beef in the Winter

February 6, 2021

Today lets discuss another common question. How do you feed grass-fed cattle in the winter?

Well as you know, our farm is located in northern IL, just minutes from Wisconsin, so we experience some harsh winters. Come November our pastures go dormant and stop growing feed and don't start up again until April. We try to stock pile some pasture, meaning don't graze them the last few months of the summer, so come the end of the growing season the cattle have more pasture to consume, however for us it seems like by about December we run out of pasture or we have a snow storm. Then we have to supplement the cattle with hay (stored pasture) for feed.

Please watch the video and I'll share a little more about the winter feed.

As I shared in the video this product takes a lot of planning and work to make it happen. I would say I tend to be a perfectionist with making hay. Our goal to do each step correctly so we have an amazing product at the end for the cattle. There's no shortcuts here at Wanda Farm. The reality is making hay is like a recipe. Follow the steps and you will have a great product in the end. However, the biggest challenge for us is getting the right window of weather with no rain to make the hay which is out of our control. This is part of the reason we do balage, as it doesn't require as many days for the hay to dry out from the sun. So lets break it down, step by step.

First: Mow the pasture (grasses/legumes)

2nd: Bale the hay with a baler.

3rd: If we were making dry hay the next step would be storing the hay inside the barn so it stays dry and keeps it from rotting. However, since we make Balage as I shared in the video, we wrap the hay in plastic to get it completely air tight. This allows the feed to ferment.

4th: By the time winter rolls around, the pasture has completed it's fermentation process and is ready to be fed to the cattle. We then bring the bales of hay to the cows everyday for their meal.

Final Step: Enjoy stored pastured!

We are thankful for our wonderful neighbors that have big machinery and help us tackle the project. We certainty couldn't do it without them.

I hope you enjoyed learning. Feel free to ask questions and share your comments, we would love to hear your feedback.

Joseph Wanda

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