David Lalman
Professor, Animal Science
Oklahoma State University

Dr. Lalman is a professor in the Animal Science Department at Oklahoma State University. He is the Extension Beef Cattle Specialist with primary responsibilities in cow/calf and stocker cattle nutrition and management. Dr. Lalman’s extension and research program emphasis is on increasing profitability and/or reducing cost of production through improved forage utilization, defining optimal management practices and evaluating beef production systems.

Limit Feeding Cattle During Drought

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In years when hay and forage production is low due to drought hay prices often escalate, and in severe cases forage of any kind may be hard to obtain. Limit Feeding can be a cost effective strategy to retain the cow herd nucleus during these periods. Depending on the price of grain, nutrients to maintain and grow cattle may be cheaper to purchase through concentrate feeds rather than roughage. This nontraditional approach is often referred to as “program feeding” or “limit feeding” because the diet is much more nutrient dense compared to hay or dry grass, and the amount consumed must be limited.

Limit feeding is not for everyone. Adoption is limited by the additional labor requirement, management skills, feed storage capacity, and the availability of feed bunks, feed delivery equipment, and a well drained dry lot or sacrifice pasture. The cost effectiveness of limit feeding will depend on each producer’s price of alternative forage, the price of grain, and the price of the supplement needed for the hay or the limit feeding program.