We’re often asked what a typical day looks like on our farm. Every day is very different, so there isn’t an easy answer to that question.
However, one thing that is always the same is that every day Matt gets on his four-wheeler and drives to check and feed the cows.
We thought you might like to join him as he feeds cows on a typical night, so that’s what this video is about.
Do we feed all of our cows the same way?
Keep in mind that our farm is a cow-calf farm, and we’re unique because we raise and sell both grass finished and grain finished beef directly to consumers.
That means we have several different groupings of cattle on our farm. They all have different needs that we have to account for.
- The grass finished cattle need to be checked regularly so we’re sure they’re all still healthy and none of them got hurt in the pasture. We don’t typically feed them since they only eat grass.
- The grain finished cattle need to be checked regularly and fed daily. They live in the pasture their entire lives and also receive natural grain during the last 6 months of their life. It’s up to them on if they eat the grass or grain.
- The heifers need to be checked regularly and they’re fed some grain too. We explained the difference between cows and heifers before. As a refresher, heifers are new mama cows that have had their first calf. Whether you’re a first time human mom or cow mom, having a baby is a lot of work and takes a toll on your body! After a heifer has had a baby calf, we give her some all-natural grain so that she’s getting even more nutrients in her diet. These nutrients help her get strong again, and also help ensure her milk has all the nutrients it needs for the baby calf.
- Baby calves need to be checked regularly since they’re so young. They drink their mom’s milk for the first 6 months of life. As they grow, they start to transition from their mother’s milk only to a mixture of milk and grass around 4 to 6 months of age.
How do we feed the cows?
The easiest way to explain this is to watch the video. As you’ll see, Matt takes a four-wheeler drive out to the field and puts a bag of feed into a feed trough. He does this one time a day.
The cows expect him and they follow him when they hear him coming.
If you have a pet dog or cat, you can compare it to feeding them. They can hear the kibble filling their bowl, and they come running.
Why do we feed the cows? Cow’s diet vs. Human’s diet.
Just like people, cows need a complete and balanced diet.
People get their balanced diet by eating a variety of foods with different vitamins and minerals. If you eat a steak, you’re giving your body nutrients like vitamin B12, zinc, iron and selenium, just to name a few. If you have a kale salad with your steak, your body is thanking you for the vitamin K and vitamin A.
Our cattle eat one primary food – grass. If the grass doesn’t always have the nutrients it needs, it will be apparent in the quality of the beef and in the health of the animal.
What do we feed cows?
The vast majority of our cattle’s diet is grass. We’ve talked extensively about the importance of quality grass and what cows eat.
A cow will consume about 2.5-3% of their body weight a day. If the cow weights, 1,000 pounds, that means they’re eating 25-30 pounds of grass a day.
Even though our cattle eat grass the majority of time, sometimes we supplement their diet for the health of the animal.
Why supplement their diet? It’s because grass is surprisingly complex, and it has different nutrient levels throughout the year.
Because of the different nutrient levels, we monitor the grass closely so that we’re sure our cattle are getting the nutrients they need to stay healthy.
If it’s been an extremely dry spring or summer, or a really long winter, there are times the grass doesn’t have the nutrients it needs to keep our cows healthy. When that happens, we will occasionally supplement our cattle’s diet so that they stay healthy. This is similar to a person taking a multi-vitamin to make up for whatever nutrients they’re not getting from their daily diet. Supplements for cows include things like molasses; high protein range cubes that are all-natural; or a diet designed by our veterinarian or cow nutritionist.
Another way we make sure our cattle are getting the nutrients they need from grass is to use a farming technique called rotational grazing. With rotational grazing, we move our cattle from pasture to pasture to ensure they’re always eating the best grass.
How much grass (acres) do you need to feed a cow?
That depends on the pasture. A good pasture in Missouri with lots of high quality grass may support one cow per two acres during a good growing year.
A pasture with sparser grass (like you find in northwestern states like Montana and Wyoming) may only support one cow on 50 acres or more.
One more thing!
Do you want to learn more about beef? Below are a few popular beef posts and recipes you may like. In addition, we have an entire ebook about beef that goes through purchasing and preparing beef from a farmers perspective.
- Buying a Cow. How Much Beef Is It?
- Is It Done Yet? Why Every Kitchen Needs a Digital Meat Thermometer and the Best One
- Dry Rub or Marinade for Steak? Know What’s Best
- Ebook – An Essential Guide to Beef: A Cattle Farm Shares How to Purchase & Prepare Beef
We have a weekly e-newsletter where we share about farm happenings, when our next beef availability is, and all things beef. When you do, you’ll get a cheat sheet with 9-must-ask questions before buying beef directly from a farmer.
Do you have other questions? Don’t hesitate to reach out to us. We love to talk beef!