Feed beef cows appropriately this spring

supplements-calves-0416f3-1734a_1PROLONGED WINTER: With limited forage growth, supplements need to be fed to meet nutritional requirements of cows nursing calves.

Prolonged winter weather has limited forage growth thus far this spring, which means many farmers are still feeding hay to cows. Pastures aren’t growing like they usually do in early spring.

Iowa State University Extension beef specialist Chris Clark reminds cow-calf producers of the importance of feeding cows appropriately this spring. Nutritional requirements are significantly greater during lactation, and it is critical to adjust rations appropriately.

“Energy and protein requirements are significantly greater during lactation. Many spring calves have already been born, but because of the weather, pastures are not yet growing very well,” Clark notes. “It’s important to realize that whether they’re in a cow-lot setting or already on pasture, cows need to be fed well enough to support early lactation.”

Feed supplement or quality hay
Typical winter diets, although balanced for gestational requirements, may not offer enough energy and protein to meet the requirements of early lactation. You may need to supplement with some type of concentrate or at least strive to use high-quality hay.

“To help cows provide a good supply of milk for the calves and yet maintain the cows’ body condition, we need to feed them well, as we are waiting for the grass to grow,” Clark says. “Cows really need some good hay to eat, and in many cases, additional supplementation to keep them on a good plane of nutrition. The challenge is that not everyone has a good handle on the quality of their hay. Plus, at this point in the spring season, hay inventories may be running pretty low.”

Use distillers grain to stretch hay
Corn coproducts are low-starch feeds that are very compatible with forage-based diets, and Clark says distillers grain can work well to supplement and stretch hay supplies. Other feeds such as soybean hulls, corn and corn silage also can be used for supplementation. Whatever feed is used, supplements must be fed appropriately to optimize rumen function, digestibility and animal health. Read more…

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Product of bioethanol production can be used as a suitable #cattle #feed supplement


Feeding cattle can be a surprisingly complex task, the animals requiring specific diets for nutrition and weight gain. The new research found that as the seasons progress, cattle find it increasingly difficult to digest a type of Bermuda grass – Tifton 85. However, the scientists also found that by supplementing the grass with dried distillers grains – the remains of ground corn fermented during ethanol production – the seasonal digestion issues can be minimised.

“Due to the ramp-up in ethanol production over the past few decades, there has been an abundance of this by-product in the beef industry,” explains Monte Rouquette, a professor with Texas A&M AgriLife Research. “Originally viewed as a waste product of the industry, research began looking into other uses of the by-product.”

It is now common for dried grains to be used as a relatively cheap source of feed. In some circumstances it can replace primary feed ingredients like corn or soybeans.  Some supplements provide additional energy, some more protein, and others minerals. The distillers’ grain is used for both protein and energy.

The results of the new study which was led by W. Brandon Smith as part of his PhD research, allow scientists to determine the most effective and efficient way to use distiller’s grains as a supplement. “These data can then be used in an economic assessment to provide a baseline of potential responses from the use of a supplement,” says Rouquette. “This work is of interest to us me because it sheds light on changes that occur chemically within the plant across the year that affect its digestibility.”

Funded by Texas A&M AgriLife Research at Overton, Beef Competitiveness Research Initiative grant, the study has been published in the journal Crop Science. read more…

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