If you're in the agricultural business, you know just how detrimental a drought can be. For example, keeping your cows well-fed when there is a shortage of grass or hay can seem impossible. Luckily, there are things that you can do to keep your cows as well-fed as possible during this difficult time, so keep these tips in mind to help your herd make it through until the grass and hay begin to grow again.
Serve More Grain
Although it's never good for cows to completely stop eating grass or hay in lieu of eating grain, grain can help bulk up your cows' diets until hay and grass are more easily available. For best results, look for a grain that has a lot of protein to help give your cows more energy. Since grain can be expensive, be careful that it isn't served near watering troughs or other muddy areas so that it isn't wasted.
Provide Alfalfa Cubes
Alfalfa cubes, which are basically dried-up and compressed cubes of alfalfa hay, are a great supplement to give your cows when grass and hay aren't readily available. You can purchase alfalfa cubes from a feed store or any shop that sells livestock supplies. Instructions for feeding -- such as how much you should feed per cow and how often alfalfa cubes should be given -- should be on the package and differ based on the size and type of alfalfa cubes that you are purchasing, but generally, a handful of alfalfa cubes should be equivalent to a cow's normal serving of hay.
Avoid Wasting Hay
There's a good chance that you waste hay without even thinking about it. For example, it might seem smart to sprinkle hay in muddy areas for added traction and to help sop up messes, but this isn't a good idea during drought season; instead, use sand or dirt. Also, make sure that cows are fed their hay in a dry spot, away from their watering trough, to help prevent it from molding. It can also be a good idea to use a hay feeder rather than simply putting hay out in your pasture; a hay feeder will help limit the amount of hay that your cows get at once and can help keep their portions under control.
Keeping your cows well-fed during a drought can be difficult, but there are solutions. If you follow these tips when feeding your livestock during this difficult time, you should be able to keep them nice and healthy until the drought conditions have improved.