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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A hands-on lesson at the North Dakota State University Feedlot School teaches producers how to use their powers of observation to assess cattle needs. Tim Schroeder, research assistant at NDSU's Car- rington Research Extension Cen- ter, says he relies not only on his academic credentials, but on his personal experience as a cattle pro- ducer, when sharing tips with feed- lot school attendees. "We go out to the bunk and view the situation from the bunk side," says Schroeder. "It's very hands- on training." The Carrington Research Center has more than 120 cows and ap- proximately 300 calves on trial during the winter months, provid- ing ample material for observation and discussion. "When you come to work, the first thing you do is drive by the bunk and read the bunk," begins Schroeder. He then makes a simple mark with a good old pencil on a scrap of paper. "If there is some feed in the bunk, make a minus sign, a mark to take feed away that day. If the bunk is slick, make a plus sign, to increase the ration." If there is a small amount left, maybe 10-15 pounds, he says to "leave it alone." For a pen of 12, a Carring- ton Research Center standard, 10 lbs. of total ration is about 2 per- cent of the ration offered, an ac- ceptable amount. With that simple test in mind, Schroeder says the cattle feeder then needs to turn his attention to what he is feeding. "When mixing, always add grains – whether corn, barley, peas, or another grain of choice – first. Then add supplements, your min- eral and nutrition additives." He says it is best to roll grains as course as possible, again, relying on visual assessment. "Corn needs to be barely broken open for calves to get what they need. There is no need to pulverize it. Just crack it open." Schroeder cites studies of rolled vs. ground grains that show little difference in performance results between the two options. The daily bunk check should also come with a bunk brush near by. "Keep bunks clean of cobs, ma- nure, and rocks picked up from your straw pile. If you're finding those things every day, get on top of it." And be sure to clean old feed wet by rain before it settles in the bottom of the bunk to rot and mold. "Cattle will eat less if they taste and smell it," says Schroeder. In winter, be sure to watch for a build-up of frozen manure near the bunk that can restrict access. Check for frozen water tanks, too. And make sure water is clean and fresh by looking for, and removing, dirt, feed and manure settled in the bottom of the tank. He also teaches cattle feeders how to use their perception skills to monitor cattle health. "At feed- ing is the best time to check for sick animals," he says. "They're focused on the bunk and not watching you. They're less likely to try to hide." He says always look a pen ahead, and feed the same time every day. "Some should be waiting at the bunk, because that's their spot. And some should be get- ting up." About 10 percent of the cattle should be casually walking to the bunk. "It's all about being hands-on, and observant," says Schroeder. "Take time to investigate anything out of the ordinary." FL 8 FEED•LOT  August 2017 FEEDLOT FOCUS By TERRI QUECK-MATZIE The EYES Will Tell

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