Animal Science Department


Date of this Version



Published for the Proceedings, The Range Beef Cow Symposium XX December 11, 12 and 13, 2007 - Fort Collins, Colorado.


Supplementation of cows grazing rangelands is often beneficial to overcome nutrient deficiencies or imbalances. However, supplemental feeds and their delivery to the cow herd are expenses and thus supplementation decisions should be carefully made to ensure that costs are minimized and benefits in terms of cow performance exceed supplementation costs. When supplementing cows, there are questions that producers should ask themselves to determine the best management practices to provide the most cost effective supplement program for their operation. The first among these is the type of supplement to be provided in terms of whether it will provide the correct nutrient to overcome a deficiency or imbalance. Selection of the correct supplemental feedstuff based on its nutritional composition can improve the cows’ ability to utilize range forage, whereas the wrong feedstuff can reduce utilization of range forage and possibly simply become a substitute for grazed forage. Once the correct supplemental feedstuff is chosen based on its nutrient composition, opportunities to deliver that feedstuff need to be considered to meet two goals: (1) reduce the cost of supplement delivery and (2) ensure that the feedstuff is consumed as uniformly as possible by all cows in the herd. Other goals for cow herd and grazing management may also need to be considered. This paper will address some options for supplement delivery and the economics of those options.