Livestock and Forage Management Information

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 Beef | Forages & grazing | Sheep & horses


Maintaining herd health and productivity during stressful periods is often challenging. This section provides a number of bulletins on beef feeding and production management, applicable to drought situations.

Ration Options for Beef Cows - 94K PDF available
Producers are always encouraged to have their beef cow feed programs set well in advance of the winter. This is even more important when planning through a drought and preparing for a very early start to the feeding season. This AgriFacts sheet presents a handful of generic sample rations for beef cows as a basis to assess feed needs and costs in advance.

Limit Fed Energy Rations - 42K PDF available
Roughage is an important component for feeding ruminants. However, as prices rise the potential to reduce feeding costs through the use of cereal grains becomes even more viable. This article explores some of these alternatives.

Cattle Feeding: Limiting Intake and Adding Corn Grain - 79K PDF available
When fibre is in short supply for wintering cattle, feeding cows limited dry matter intake rations may be an option. This AgriFact bulletin reviews results of a Kinsella corn feeding trial to examine this alternative.

Match Forage Supplies to Livestock Needs Calculator -173K PDF available
Preparations for the winter feeding season include formulating rations and ensuring sufficient feeds are either in-store or available to meet the needs for a lengthy feeding period. This article presents a calculator to estimate feed stuff requirements and identify potential shortfalls in feeds under different ration options.

Nitrate Poisoning & Feeding Nitrate Feeds to Livestock - 117K PDF available
If you're pressed for additional grazing or feeds to put in-store for the winter, your annual cereal crops may look like a good alternative. However, the stress on these crops, brought on by drought, may cause serious nitrate problems for your stock. This fact sheet provides some background on the issue and valuable information to deal with it.

Feed Waste Management - 67K PDF available
With feed and grazing shortages brought on by drought, managing wastage becomes key. This brief article provides a few tips, guidelines and targets for producers to consider.

Bedding Without Straw - 69K PDF available
When drought shrinks feed supplies, straw becomes more valuable as a feed stuff and less likely to be used as bedding. This bulletin reviews bedding alternatives and/or options to economize on straw.

Minimizing Heat Stress in Beef Cattle - 42K PDF available
Heat stress is hard on livestock, especially in combination with high humidity. This article discusses the impact of these factors on cattle productivity and well-being, how to recognize it, and how to deal with it.

Tetany Problems in Beef Cows - 24K PDF available
Drought or dry growing conditions and regions where acidic soils exist can create a circumstance where beef cows develop tetany-like problems. This article provides some background into the causes of these problems, steps you can use to prevent it, and actions to take in recognizing and dealing with the situation when it occurs.

Body Condition Scoring Your Cow Herd - 37K PDF available
Body condition scoring of beef cattle can be an effective management tool for evaluating the energy reserves of cows and the nutritional program being used. Drought conditions apply pressure to cows' body condition and can subsequently affect productivity. This article describes the condition scoring process and how it can be used to monitor and manage beef herd nutrition.

Forages & Grazing

Forage and grazing issues are often the focal point during drought. A range of forage and grazing articles are provided, covering many drought-related management issues and options.

Salvaging Cereal Crops - When to Cut? - 17K PDF available
Salvaging a drought-affected cereal crop as a greenfeed may seem like a logical course of action, given moisture, temperature and forage availability conditions during drought. This article touches briefly on the question of "when to cut" in these circumstances.

Crop Yield Calculator - 100K PDF available
Before any decisions are made regarding change of use of cereal crops, it would be wise to assess the expected grain or oilseed yield to establish the potential harvested value. The note briefly describes a procedure to estimate crop yield in a standing crop.

Range & Pasture Management When Dealing with Drought - 107K PDF available
Good range and pasture management will minimize the effects of drought when it occurs. To manage successfully in the face of drought, a producer needs to know how drought will affect plants, livestock and management practices. This article provides insight into management alternatives on both the forage and livestock fronts.

Winter Cereals for Grazing
Winter cereals are an excellent way to add flexibility to a livestock operation by providing supplemental or emergency pasture for grazing livestock. They can be used for grazing throughout the summer and/or to extend the grazing season.

Calculating Grazing & Forage Needs
For a variety of reasons, many pastures are in a poor condition coming into 2004. In order to make the upcoming grazing season successful, it is important that producers understand exactly how much grazing and feed resources they will need in order to make it through until winter feeding normally begins. If enough feed resources do not exist, producers need to be prepared in order to make informed management decisions.

Grasshopper Management, Identification and Control
Many parts of Alberta could face grasshopper infestations, especially during dry conditions. It is important for producers to identify if they may be facing a problem, and be prepared to control the grasshoppers early.

Sheep & Horses

Maintaining animal health and productivity during stressful periods is often challenging. This section provides a number of bulletins on sheep and horse feeding and production management, applicable to drought situations.

What You Feed Sheep Is Not Necessarily What They Eat
Sheep producers, particularly in drought areas, are looking at feeds they usually wouldn't consider as normal sheep feed. This article addresses some of the issues producers should consider when creating sheep rations from feed sources different from the "norm".

Sheep: Feed & Forage Requirements
When pastures impacted by drought for several years running are tapped out, producers start to feed their flocks. This FAQ article reviews some of the basics of feed and forage requirements for sheep.

Ewe Maintenance Rations
Providing proper ewe maintenance rations will ensure body condition, and productivity of ewes is maintained. This FAQ article touches on ewe maintenance needs and provides a few ration alternatives.

Feeding Corn to Sheep

Feeding Lambs
This FAQ article reviews some of the considerations involved with feeding lambs. Feeding management information contained in the article may be useful in accommodating drought situations.

Feeding and Management Considerations for Horses - 201K PDF available
Drought can directly affect the feeding and management choices for your horses. This factsheet provides some management and feeding guidelines to help producers, and their horses, through a dry spell.

Body Condition Scoring Your Horse - 290K PDF available
A horse's body condition can be readily translated to reproductive capability, performance ability and health. This bulletin describes the basics of the process.

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This information published to the web on June 28, 2004.
Last Reviewed/Revised on November 2, 2017.