by Justin Waggoner, Beef Systems Specialist, Garden City
Many of the challenge’s cattle producers face are essentially about managing variability. Our management decisions/practices are often dictated by changes in weather, markets, genetics, animal performance and many other factors. There are a variety of tools that have been created to help cattle producers manage different sources of variability and predict animal performance. Today we often think of complex tools like EPDs or genomic testing. However, simple tools such as body condition scoring and analytical testing of feeds are also tools that should be included in this list. Although it is often overlooked, the underlying reason we evaluate the chemical composition of feedstuffs is to gather data that can be used to more efficiently manage our feed resources and more accurately predict animal performance.
Continue reading “Testing feedstuffs, another tool in the management toolbox”
By Justin Waggoner, Beef Systems Specialist
One the more common questions I receive with regard to analytical testing of forages and other feedstuffs is, “I have the sample, now what do I test for or what analysis package should I select?”
The basic components that nutritionists need to evaluate a feedstuff or develop a ration are dry matter or moisture, crude protein, an estimate of the energy content of the feedstuff — Total Digestible Nutrients (TDN), Net Energy for Maintenance (NEm), Net Energy for gain (NEg), and the macro minerals, Calcium and Phosphorous. These are the most basic numbers that are required but including some additional analyses in the report can give us additional insight into the quality of the feedstuff or improve our ability to predict animal performance, which is the primary reason we analyze feedstuffs.
Continue reading “Forage analysis: What Numbers Do I Need”
by Chris Reinhardt, feedlot specialist
Although some areas received abundant rain this summer and have ample hay supplies, other regions received only marginal rains, resulting in a marginal hay crop. On the other hand, most of the corn-growing regions of the Midwest and High Plains had excellent growing conditions which have contributed to abundant grain supplies, resulting in relatively low corn prices this fall.
This combination of coinciding circumstances has raised the question, “Can I feed corn to cows instead of hay?” Well, the answer is an emphatic, “Yes”, but with caveats. Continue reading “Feeding Corn to Cows this Winter”
by Justin W. Waggoner, beef systems specialist
Weaning is just around the corner for many spring-calving operations. The process of weaning calves essentially has 3 primary components: 1) maternal separation 2) moving to a new environment with a new social structure and 3) becoming accustomed to new, unfamiliar feedstuffs. How we manage all of these sources of stress or components of the weaning process ultimately impacts calf health and performance. However, one of the most critical elements of a successful weaning program is getting calves to consume feed. The first step in managing feed intake of calves is getting them to the bunk.
Continue reading “Managing Feed Intake of Weaned Calves”