The No. 1 cost for beef cow-calf producers is feed and more specifically, mechanically harvested winter feed.

Estimating the amount of winter feed that will be needed and then matching that with the amount identified in an inventory will help cow-calf producers avoid running out of feed. Determining how much feed will be needed and the current inventory, will allow producers to decide if there will be shortage problems.

If feed resources do not match feed requirements, producers will need to decide if they are going to reduce animal numbers or purchase additional resources. Now is the time to make those calculations.


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One very easy to use tool is the Winter Feed Estimator, from the University of Florida.

The Winter Feed Estimator is a very quick and easy way to determine how much feed is needed for the herd.

The dry matter requirements will be based on frame size, and number of weeks a producer plans to feed. Knowing the frame size, is critical to accurately estimate the amount of dry matter (DM) required.

The amount of time the animals will be fed is also critical. The less time you feed stored feeds, the lower your costs will be, thus the more money you will be making. Utilizing practices to  extend the grazing season, and utilize crop residues, are excellent opportunities to reduce the quantity of stored feed required for winter feeding.