Feeding Waste

 Knowledge Nuggets | Fact Sheets | Research Papers

Knowledge Nuggets

  • Livestock trample, over consume, foul, and use for bedding 25 to 45 percent of the hay when it is fed free choice.
  • Feed daily to reduce wastage. Provide only enough for a daily feeding as this will force livestock to eat feed that might otherwise be refused or trampled.
  • Over consumption of feed is a form of wastage. A dry, pregnant cow will eat 20 to 30 percent more hay than is required to meet nutritional requirements. Over a 200-day feeding period, a 1300-pound cow can consume 1560 extra pounds of feed.
  • Proper feeder design reduces waste. A round bale feeder with a sloped entry bar design saves feed when cows back away from the feeder. A solid lower section in the feeder prevents feed from being pulled out of the bottom.
  • When feeding large round bales, ensure adequate numbers of cattle are present to clean up the feed on a daily basis. All cattle should have space at the feeder at the same time. Too much or too little competition for feed increases waste.
  • Feed outside stored hay first. Hay stored outside usually has more spoilage during storage and reduced palatability than covered feed. Cattle will waste a greater percentage of poor quality hay than of good quality hay.
  • Feed using an electric fence to minimize access and trampling. This is particularly important during times when the ground is soft or wet. By exposing only a portion of the daily feed, cattle will reach under the electric wire and gather the hay by the mouthful. Wastage by trampling and soiling only occurs on that hay that they pull out from under the wire.
  • When feeding on the ground, select clean areas daily to improve palatability of feed that has been trampled on.
  • During the winter months, select feeding sites that are separate from the cow’s resting area. Purposely select areas that are somewhat exposed to limit the amount of time cow’s loiter in the feeding area. Typically cattle will come to feed and then return to more protected areas for resting.
  • Depending on the market value of feed, the use of a tub grinder or hay processor may be feasible to reduce wastage and increase consumption of an otherwise unpalatable feed.
Fact Sheets

Feed Waste Management

Efficiently Feeding Beef Cows Round Bales

Effect of Bale Processing on Particle Size and Potential Feeding Losses in Four Hay Types- in PDF format only

Effect of Bale Processing on Particle Size and Potential Feeding Losses in Hay or Bale Silage

Effect of Feeding on the Ground on Feed Waste under Typical Winter Feeding Conditions- in PDF format only

Feed Waste and Feed Site Forage Production - in PDF format only

Minimizing Losses in Hay Storage and Feeding - in PDF format only

Reducing Losses When Feeding Hay to Beef Cattle

Winter feeding: Bale feeders minimize hay waste - video

Research Papers

Effect of Hay Feeding Methods on Cow Performance, Hay Waste and Wintering Costs

Large round bale feeder design affects hay utilization and beef cow behavior - in PDF format only

Large Round Bale Hay Wastage By Various Feeding Methods (page 46) - in PDF format only
  For more information about the content of this document, contact Grant Lastiwka.
This document is maintained by Linda Hunt.
This information published to the web on March 20, 2003.
Last Reviewed/Revised on February 27, 2017.

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