Alternative Feeds for Cattle During Drought


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 costs per pound of calf sold.


Quick Facts

  • Drought is a part of the normal production cycle. Dealing with 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 dry lot or semi-confinement.
  • 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.
  • Consider the full cost of alternative feeds. If you must travel a long distance to get a ‘cheap’ alternative feed, make sure the transportation makes financial sense.
  • Feed strategically based on cattle nutritional needs individually and throughout time. You can waste money by overfeeding a cow that does not need it. Consider whether some cattle need more nutritional support than others.