Feed Lot

AUG 2017

Feedlots and cow/calf operations in the beef industry who feed 500 or more has annually on grains and concentrates; maintain 500 or more beef cows; backgrounder, stocker/grower, preconditioner; veterinarian, nutritionist, consultant

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as well. What's the rest of the ra- tion? What does the manure tell you about how the grain is being digested? Does the size of the op- eration and number of cattle fed j ustify the equipment cost? H oppe says most find grinding hay beneficial to aid in mixing, though they will likely see only slightly higher dry matter intake and increased digestibility. If parti- cle size is too large, mixing is prob- lematic. If hay is ground too fine there is not enough fiber for cud chewing. And if cud chewing is re- duced, acidosis can be a concern. For both forage and grain, the type of mixer matters. Tub grinders are flexible in working with various forages and environments. Leasing and custom operators offer alter- natives to machinery investment. Vertical mixers are helpful for chopping hay prior to ration mix- ing and work well for rations of 40- 60 percent roughage. "That makes them a great piece of equipment for backgrounders or dairy, but not the best for finishing," says Hoppe. Most require a tractor with signifi- cant horsepower for operation. F eed delivery wagons are de- s igned to deliver silage, not mix feed. They work well for back- grounding operations where the ra- tion is high in forage and when the feed is already mixed. "It's not about product compar- ison," says Hoppe, "the issue is whether or not the equipment does an adequate job of mixing." He sug- gests performing a simple test. Sample feed from the first part of the bunk, then the middle, then the end of the row. If the feed analysis is the same, the mix is successful. If the profile is different, there's a problem. "That problem could be mixing time, settings, or the ration," says Hoppe. "It could be equipment or human error." M i x i n g o r d e r m a t t e r s . F o r backgrounding, Hoppe recom- mends starting with grains, then adding pelleted supplements, silage, hay, then liquid supplement. Over or under mixing the ration can re- d uce effectiveness. Most mixers op- e rate best at 60-90 percent capacity. Hoppe says cattle will always do some sorting of feed, but the goal is to minimize it. Processing feeds improves utilization and digestion. Adding wet feeds and liquid sup- plements can improve palatability and decrease fines and dust. Regularly scheduled feeding keeps feed fresh. "Remember, cattle thrive on boredom," says Hoppe. "They don't like change. If you put a new feed- stuff in front of them, it will take about three days for them to adapt. So for optimal performance, their ration needs to be consistent and well blended. The best delivery method is the one that fits the eco- nomics of the operation." FL FEED•LOT  August 2017 7

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