Beginning in the fall of 2000 a trial was conducted at the Blackbelt Research & Extension Center to evaluate the use of stockpiled fescue as a supplement to hay rather than as a replacement of the hay.  We know that through the winter fescue will hold its nutritional value, which is quite good  (e.g., 68% TDN and 12% CP).  During the first year, the fall of 2000, there was not enough moisture to stockpile fescue thus we were unable to use it.  Obviously, the system does not work every year, it is weather dependent.
    However, for the winter of 01-02 and 02-03 there was adequate moisture and we were able to stockpile the fescue. The cows at the station are Simmental x Angus and calve in Oct/Nov primarily.  The fescue was fertilized with 60 pounds of N per acre in early September and then cows began grazing it as they calved.  There were three winter feeding treatments with approximately 25 cows per treatment, all three received free-choice oat hay and then were: 1) supplemented with 7 pounds of whole cottonseed/day, 2) supplemented with 7 pounds of soyhulls/day or 3) grazed on stockpiled fescue for 1 to 2 hours per day.  Approximately 1.25 acres of stockpiled fescue was set aside per cow.  All cattle were fed the hay on pastures that contained some fescue. The oat hay fed during the two winters contained 55.5 and 52.9% TDN, respectively and 8.0 and 10.7% CP, respectively.  Results were as follows:

                                 At calving             In March
                           Wt.        BCS        Wt.        BCS      # bred      Lbs hay consumed
Cottonseed        1424        6.0        1367        6.1        24/25                33
Soyhulls             1278        6.2        1287        6.2        25/26                32
Stck Fescue       1305        5.8        1281        6.0        25/25                33


Cottonseed        1249        6.0        1225        6.0        22/24                28
Soyhulls             1258        6.0        1254        6.0        25/25                29
Stck Fescue       1226        6.0        1182        5.8        23/24                29

BCS = body condition score.  Also, no differences were observed for calf weights in either year.

    As you can see, all supplementation programs provided adequate nutrition for the cows.  You can price cottonseed and soyhulls and compare that to applying 60 pounds of nitrogen to fescue and also give some thought to the management systems involved.  Daily feeding versus daily moving of the cows on and off of the stockpiled fescue.  Whether you use stockpiled fescue for a hay replacement or for a supplement to hay it has some real potential for cost savings when adequate moisture is available. This has certainly been a good moisture year so far.  What about some results from your farm in 03-04!!

    As always contact me if you have specific questions.  Also, Mr. Jimmy Holliman is the superintendent of the Blackbelt Research & Extension Center and conducted these trials and would also be able to address any specific questions.