When Doyle Jost of rural Hillsboro saw hay prices climb in recent weeks, he decided to take advantage of the increase and sell his winter hay. That left him with a group of 20 Holstein steers to finish out, but he had a good feed option in mind.
“I took a little of that money I made on the hay and bought a few fence posts,” Jost said. “Then I put them out on the wheat.”
Jost planted his wheat earlier this fall, just before a good rain, and said the moisture helped it grow quickly.
“It’s probably a good idea to have them take some of that wheat off there, thin it out a little,” Jost said. “It won’t hurt it at all in the long run, and it is a good, cheap, source of feed for the cattle.”
Jost, a former dairyman, said he preferred the black and white Holsteins to other cattle because they made him feel comfortable.
“I just like looking at them out there on the wheat,” he said. “I don’t mind not having to go out early and milk like I used to, especially on these cold days, but I’ve got to have something out there in the pens and having the steers out on wheat makes chores pretty easy this time of year.”
Jost said the hardest part of wintering cattle on wheat was keeping an eye on the hotwire fence.
“I worry about them breaking out, or deer knocking it down, but my girls tied white flags on it to make it more visible,” he said. “As long as I don’t get many calls from the neighbors if they get out, it’s all good.”
Rickey Roberts, Kansas State University Research and Extension agriculture agent for Marion County, said grazing wheat was a good option for growing cattle but probably too lush for older cows.
“The wheat tillered up pretty good this fall already, so as long as a farmer’s got it, it is a good source of feed,” he said. “They just need to watch and get those cattle off quickly when it starts to grow around the first or middle of March.”
Jost said his steers were pushing over 1,000 pounds and he planned to market them sometime in January.