Normally, energy for livestock is more critical than protein according to Eldon Cole, livestock specialist with University of Missouri Extension.
"Most years, when I'm asked about the need for protein tubs, blocks, cubes, by-product feeds or high protein hay, I stress that energy is more critical than protein," said Cole. "This year I'm more concerned about protein knowing the types of hay, silage or balage many are feeding."
Cole has seen several laboratory tests at the Lawrence County Extension Center which lends reinforcement to the potential need for crude protein.
Farmers in southwest Missouri had an unusually early spring with decent haying weather. Many harvested early, high quality hay in April and early May. That grass hay likely contains 12 percent protein which should take care of most classes of cattle on protein.
Cole says for wintering calves or yearlings, the 12 percent should cover their needs unless farmers are aiming for gains over two pounds per day on the calves weighing under 600 pounds.
"The dry summer forced many to use up that better quality hay and now they are left with hay or silage with protein values well below eight percent on a dry matter basis," said Cole.
As cattle producers review the nutrient requirements for both dry and lactating cows as well as for wintering calves, eight percent crude protein on a dry basis is required as a minimum. Lactating cows may have needs as high as 10.5 percent if their milk production levels are above average. Cole says young, lightweight calves will be even higher.