When to start feeding supplementary feeds

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1 month 1 week ago #559638 by Dr Spock
Hi all. I have lived on my block for 20 years and still don't know when I should start feeding out. Duh!
With the onset of each winter I always wonder when to start feeding out. Last year (as with most years) I started quite early because to me it didn't look like I had much grass and I hate the thought of animals being hungry especially if the weather is cold or wet, but a farmer neighbour told me that I still had plenty of grass so I stopped and they were fine for another month or so.
This year I don't have much baleage to play with so I don't want to feed it out too soon nor too much. I think my cattle are quite lazy and would prefer food on tap rather than have to go and look for some but  in previous years they have wasted so much of it and I can't afford to do that any year but especially this year when I didn't get much made. I have already been feeding out some hay which they have been happy to eat but once again a lot is wasted and I am running out of it now.
Along with the 3, 2 year old cattle and 2 of last season calves I also have 3 goats and 11 sheep to feed on my 2.5 hectare block in South Canterbury which hasn't seen an awful lot of rain for a long time and is now getting a bit cold. The goats receive a daily supplement anyway. Nothing looks malnourished ....yet. Usually when I get anything killed for the freezer they tend to be on the fatty side which I'd quite like to avoid too.

Any advice would be greatly appreciated. 

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1 month 1 week ago #559639 by LongRidge
If the animals are well fed, they will sit around and look lazy. If they are hungry there will be more movement and standing,
When I feed out to sheep, goats and donkeys, they waste quite a lot of food. I rake this up and feed it to the cattle. If the cattle won't eat it then nothing will. So I expect sheep, goats and donkeys to waste food, but if the cattle are wasting it then they are not hungry.
Because you have young cattle that are still growing, they need everything they will eat, so if they waste a little bit then thats OK,
Short grass is more nutritious than long grass, but growth is better and faster when pasture length is 75 to 100 mm. Also with short grass, the animal worms are easier able to climb into the grazing zone. Goats catch sheep worms and tend to be much less resistant to these worms. So run the cattle and goats together rather than the sheep and goats together.. And remember that young or pregnant or old animals are more prone to worms than non-pregnant young adults.

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1 month 1 week ago #559648 by Jaybee
Generally the advantage of feeding out early in the season is that it lets you slow your grazing rotation down while the grass is still growing and you end up with a good amount of grass ahead of you to eat over the winter. If you're not rotationally grazing it's better to leave the supplement until the grass gets short.

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