Winter Meal Planning

I hope Thanksgiving was amazing for all of you. We got to spend it with Megan’s family and it was a load of fun. It seems like after Thanksgiving, Christmas is right on top of us. And Christmas means winter. We haven’t needed that as a reminder because the snow keeps falling to tell us.


However, to get ready for winter, we have to think about feeding hay. And we have to know what is in that hay. To help us with this we collect hay samples to send to the laboratory. This analysis will tell us how much protein, energy, fiber, moisture, and different minerals are in the feed. It will be important for deciding how much and what hay to feed to our different groups of animals.


To take the samples, we have to core multiple bales from each “cutting” or stack. We mix these cores together to get a representative sample. We chose to send in seven different samples this year representing different kinds of hay that we are planning to feed. Unfortunately, they haven’t returned our analysis yet. They are probably a little backed up with celebrating their own Thanksgiving. With any luck we will have the results tomorrow.


We will combine this information with how much of each type of hay we have. After that, it depends on the weather. If the snow keeps falling, we will have to bring the cows in from the badlands sooner than we want and start feeding hay. It’s very helpful to be able to wait as long as possible to feed hay. It gives us the ability to feed more hay when they do come in and keeps us from having to buy hay in the middle of winter. As you can imagine, prices get high when everybody is looking for hay because the winter was worse than expected.

It’s the recurring theme of ranching: prepare as best as you can and then see what the weather does. Hopefully, we have a good winter for the cows and, hopefully, you had a wonderful Thanksgiving. Enjoy your week and safe travels if you are returning from a vacation.

by Brandon Greet

Brandon Greet3 Comments