Obviously there is a great deal of discussion during the very dry conditions we are seeing in much of Texas and Oklahoma of how to stretch hay and forage supplies and properly meet the nutritional needs of cattle. This is coupled with high feed costs, high transportation costs and virtually a perfect storm of all the things that can go wrong right now.
As an overview, the biggest challenges faced are the simple lack of roughage normally needed in the cow’s diet during this point in time. Keep in mind that a typical 1,200 lb. cow will consume about 3.25% of her body weight daily in decent quality forage. That is equal to approximately 38 lbs of roughage daily. Her ability to consume this amount is based on the availability and the quality of said roughage. In the spring time when grass is normally plentiful and lush she can probably eat this much and more. Later in the summer when grass normally loses some of this quality (older, more mature, lower protein content, less digestible) she cannot consume as much and this is when we typically see a need to supplement with liquids to help increase the protein supply which also increases rumen bacteria activity and allows her to digest the forages more rapidly and completely and thus she can consume more.
This year, like other drought years, what producers are initially encountering is reduced pasture and hay availability. Also, what hay that is available for purchase is higher priced, lower quality or both. Right now we are seeing a lot of corn stalks, milo stubble or wheat straw
being baled and sold. Of all these the rices straw is the lowest in quality and can actually require additional energy simply to digest the roughage. In other words, rice straw is a nutritional “black hole” for the cow.
A lot of programs are being recommended by extension and other folks to help stretch these roughage supplies. Much of this is in the form of dry feeds (forage extenders), commodities such as corn, soy hulls, corn gluten feed, DDGs, etc. The idea here is that these feeds and commodities are fairly available (although expensive) and that properly balanced, each lb. of a dry feed mix can replace 2 or more lbs of hay since they are at least 2 times higher in energy than the hay or other roughage at this time. This is not a bad plan but it is more labor intensive,
especially if someone is trying to feed a high corn or other high starch diet and they need to feed every day. It is possible to feed every other day or every third day but those feeds need to be higher in fiber, bulkier to prevent digestive upsets. But again, this is a workable situation to
reduce hay and forage use.
So where does liquid feed come in?
As with any program, to be effective and keep the animals healthy and producing it is necessary to balance the protein and other nutrients in the animal’s diet. When we look at dry feed sources we know that protein sources such as soybean or cottonseed meal and others are quite expensive. Even in this current market, liquid feeds are some of the most cost effective sources of protein and other nutrients. So given proper consideration, liquid feeds can cost-effectively provide the needed protein as well as significant amounts of other nutrients as
well to these cattle in a low or reduced forage program. It also allows the producer to reduce the amount of feed he physically needs to handle. It also is a source that is available 24/7 and not only when actual feeding can take place. This is very useful when we are concerned with
rumen health management.
So a forage reduction program might look like the following for a mature, 1,200 lb. cow during drought conditions:
- 15 to 20 lbs of hay
- 5-6 lbs of a 10% protein high-fiber forage extender feed, 60-65% TDN +/-
- 2-3 lbs of a 25 to 35% Protein liquid feed such as any of the Cattle-Lac Liquids.
Of course this is contingent on exactly what the forage and quality availability looks like, what exact feed is available and other variables.
These programs can be modified as needed but liquids can definitely have a role in these programs.
Steve Blezinger, Ph.D, PAS
Reveille Livestock Concepts
It Pays to use liquid supplements
The cost to reap this multitude of values is just pennies a day!
Free Choice Feeding – Available 24 hrs/day
Consumption Control – Limit Intake
Excellent Service – No “Out of Stock” Worries
Nutritionally Balanced Pasture Grass Feeding
More Meat Per Acre
No Dust Problem – Cows Don’t Cough Or Go Off Feed
Homogenized – Superior Stability
Low Equipment Cost – Saves You $
Low Labor Requirement – Saves Time
Nutrition Help – When You Care To Feed The Best
Capitalize on Your Cattle
The 365 Day Cow Year Never Stops — and Neither Should Your Feed Supply
Is the 82-day period after calving when the cow is milking at her highest level. She must undergo uterine involution, start recycling and rebreed. This is her most important nutritional period.
Liquid Supplement allows better protein utilization, assimilates nutrients easier, improves fiber digestion, stimulates rumen bacteria, supplies available vitamins and minerals, improves energy intake and improves feed conversion to meet this stressful period.
This will ease stress in the cow, cut weight loss to a minimum and maintain healthy cow to cycle and breed earlier.
Pregnancy and Lactation
This is a 123-day period when the cow should be in early pregnancy while still lactating and maintaining a calf. Liquid Supplement increases weight gain, improves feed conversion, stimulates appetite and improves energy intake.
This enables the cow to gain weight and store some energy reserve as body fat.
This is the 110-day period that follows weaning the calf. The cow must primarily maintain her developing fetus.
Liquid Supplement may enable cows to better utilize poor quality roughage, reduce waste, improve carrying capacity, lower feed cost, reduce feed intake, balance pasture grass nutrition and lower total feed cost.
This will maintain healthy fetal growth, help reduce excess weight loss, and condition the body for pre-calving.
This is the 50-day period which is the 2nd most important time in the cow year. Here, 80% of fetal growth occurs and the cow is preparing for lactation.
Liquid Supplement with available vitamins and minerals, digestible quality amino acids, high phosphoric acid, easy assimilation of nutrients, good fiber digestion, stimulated rumen bacteria and high absorbable energy are needed.
This will prevent fetal loss through early abortion, small undernourished, weak calves at birth, lowered milk production, poor calf growth, calf survival problems, fewer incidences of scours, reduced labor and vet bills and easier cleaning for quick cycling and breed-back.
Cattle-Lac Works Better
You can’t beat 24/7 feed, dealer refills, and less work for yourself — Cattle-Lac simply makes it easier to raise your cattle. Let us do the work for you! Keep your cows healthy and happy and your wallet full.
Free choice feeding of CATTLE-LAC Liquid supplement will:
- Stimulate appetite – which means get more dry matter into the cow
- Improve gain – which means heavier weights and more meat per acre
- Increase feed conversion – more beef on less grass
- Add more energy – improve efficiency – cheaper gains
- Stimulate rumen activity – Better performance, less sickness, ease weaning stress
- Improve meat quality – more dollars for your calf
- Supply chromium – helps prevent STRESS
Cattle-Lac Liquid Supplements:
- Require Less Labor
- Less Waste
- Better Nutrient Assimilation
- Improved Fiber Digestion
- Reduce Cost
- Available 24 Hours a Day
- Increased Protein Utilization
- Has Available Amino Acids
- Supplies Soluble Vitamins and Minerals
- Supplies Chromium For Less Stress