Cattle producers should consider feeding wheat straw to keep cows full and prepared. Cows as large ruminants need a lot of feed to fill them up and keep them full. As roughage in the rumen ferments and breaks down heat is produced which helps provide contentment in cold weather and digestible nutrients are made available to meet the nutritional needs of the cow for maintenance and gestation. When feed consumed provides nutrients above these needs it will be stored as fat or used for weight gain.

On a dry-matter basis a cow may be able to consume low-quality fibrous slow-to-break-down roughage equal to only 2 percent of her body weight per day. That is unlikely to provide her with adequate nutrition and result in weight loss. However, high-quality forages break down and pass through the body quite fast. These forages can be associated with intakes up to 4 percent of body weight. If your feeding situation involves high-quality, nutrient-rich feeds such as early cut legume mixed hay, silage or grain products, a cow’s nutrient needs may be met in a quantity of feed less than what she has the appetite and ability to consume. Being unnecessary and way too costly to let her fill up on expensive feeds provide a low-cost residue feed such as wheat straw to help keep her full and prepared for cold weather.