Winter Cow Supplementation: Protein and Energy Explained

In the article “Nutrient Synchrony: Protein and Energy Working Together,” we discussed how protein and energy act synergistically in the rumen to booster animal performance: Each requires the other for peak function. We also mentioned how winter supplementation often consists of a protein supplement but that protein is not always the limiting nutrient. In this article, we will talk about both protein and energy supplementation and how to know which is the limiting nutrient and when to feed it.

Growing-Season Burns Improve Winter Forage Quality

As the transition from fall to winter occurs, many livestock producers begin providing a protein supplement to their herd. It is estimated that 60-70% of a cow’s annual maintenance cost is due to feed cost, especially during the winter. The added cost of a winter supplement is an expense that is deducted from those producers’ profits. Input costs are things that producers can control in their operations. For producers with access to native rangeland, this supplement cost may be reduced by providing high quality supplemental native forage in the fall and winter months. This high quality native forage can be produced by conducting timely growing-season (summertime) prescribed burns.