Beef cows wintered on stockpiled forage performed as well as confinement-fed cows and at a lower cost, according to a University of Saskatchewan study.

Pregnant Angus cows grazed a stockpiled meadow bromegrass-alfalfa mixture or similar-quality hay in a drylot. They were supplemented with rolled barley at 0.05% and 0.4% of body weight for the two respective groups.

Forage utilization was better for drylot-fed cows — 94% vs. 68% for stockpile cows. But total dry matter intake, average daily gain and body fat measurements were the same for the two groups. Likewise, there was no difference in calf birth weight or calving interval, researchers say.

Total costs were $1.71 and $1.55/cow/day for the drylot and stockpiled forage systems, respectively.

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