Feed Lot

DEC 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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T ransitioning newly weaned calves from a forage diet to a grain and grain byproducts based diet is a critical time period in the feedlot. Since many farmer feeders only receive calves once a year and fall weaning is just around the cor- ner, here's a quick reminder of things to consider. Corn has twice the energy den- sity, and twice the digestibility of most forages, so a pound of corn yields four times the amount of di- gestible energy as a pound of grass. Allowing animals an adequate time to adjust to corn, metabolically, is critical as the bacteria in the rumen can digest the feed faster than the animal may be able to utilize this additional energy, resulting in a low rumen pH and acidosis. Many animals are seeing an au- tomatic waterer and learning to eat from a feed bunk for the first time. Further taking into account the fact that newly weaned animals in confinement are developing a new social hierarchy, are being exposed to several potentially harmful pathogens that we must manage through vaccinations, and may de- velop respiratory problems if we further stress them with rapid diet changes, a gradual increase in en- ergy dense feed intake is neces- sary. Having a controlled intake allows animals to adjust to grain- based diets and allows them to achieve ad-libitum feed intake on a pen basis in a manner that mini- mizes the likelihood of acidosis and respiratory disease outbreaks. Two critical pieces of informa- tion that are needed to create an effective receiving period protocol are the number of calves in the pen and their average initial weight. Re- ducing within the pen, calf size variability is important, as feed in- take is based on the average weight. If there is more than a 25% variation in weight, large animals may over-consume feed resulting in acidosis, and the feed that is tak- en away from smaller animals may result in their being in a negative energy balance, which sets them up for being susceptible to bacter- ial and viral respiratory diseases. Slick bunk management should be used. When done appropriately, this does not reduce the intake of a group of cattle over time. To ef- fectively utilize slick bunk manage- ment, care must be given to never increase the amount fed in any giv- en day by more than 5% to 10% of the prior day's intake, and cattle should never have an increase in 10 FEED•LOT  December 2017 FEEDLOT FOCUS 1) whole corn kernal;  2) whole corn kernal split in half;  3) whole corn kernal quartered;  4) one whole corn kernal broken into many smaller pieces. Each time corn or other grains are ground or split further the total surface area of the feed increases, and the risk for acidosis is increased. 1. 2. 3. 4. When starting calves, pull feed to the center of the feed bunk every 4 to 6 hours for the first 48 hours. Do this slowly so the cattle are intrigued, but not scared. Transitioning Calves from Receiving to a Feedlot Diet By DR. FRANCIS L. FLUHARTY, DEPARTMENT OF ANIMAL SCIENCES, THE OHIO STATE UNIVERSITY

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