Thursday, May 16, 2019

Hay: Limited or Free-Choice for Weaned Calves?

I just revised this entry in my Calf Facts resource library. [access is easy at or the URL is

The summary points:
What do we conclude about feeding forage to weaned heifers?

  1. A limited amount of forage works well. Remember that too much forage depresses dry matter intake in these animals with small rumen capacities.

  1. Feed enough protein to take advantage of young heifers’ ability to grow rapidly. Blend high-protein pellets with hay to get no less than 16.5 percent crude protein mix.

3.     When feeding free-choice hay/grain mix, the range of 5 to 15 percent hay may be predicted to give satisfactory gains (1.9 – 2.3 pounds per day) although less hay may result in roughly 20 percent higher gains compared to the higher level.

4.     Feeding free choice hay to young heifers (seven to ten weeks of age) is very likely to result in unsatisfactory rates of gain.

The body of the entry reviews research trial results feeding various levels of protein and comparing limited and free-choice hay feeding. 


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