Raising grass finished beef in the winter requires a little help. Right now there is snow on the ground and no green grass to be found. To make up for their nutritional needs, we feed hay.
It takes a large amount of hay to support a cow on hay alone. Cattle will eat about 2% of their body weight per day in dry matter. This means if you have a cow that weighs 1200 lbs., she will eat about 24 lbs. of dry matter. If the hay has 20% moisture content you must feed 30 lbs. of hay per head per day. So the hay adds up.
This time of year, feeding hay can take up a lot of the day. Feeding is my first and last chore of the day. The mother cows will only get fed once per day, but I feed the calves twice per day just to give them a little extra care and make sure they are doing fine. We could make them go out and dig through the snow to find what grass they can, but right now we want to keep our cows in good condition so they are ready to calve in a couple months. The calves, now about 9-10 months old, are growing and need a quality diet.
Luckily, right now the weather is mild for the beginning of January. The last several days have been in the 30s and the cows are loving it. They spend less of their energy keeping warm and don't need as much hay as when it was below zero. Hopefully, the weather keeps it up and keeps the cows (and me) happy.