Feed Lot

MAR 2018

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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are in pens and depending on you to eat. Feed costs can be an issue, too, if you're not careful. "To be competitive, you've got to be cost-effective," Diederich says. "And to be cost-effective, you must watch what it costs to feed per head per day." He says to be successful, a dry- lot operator must be able to buy bulk commodities and limit feed. D iederich feeds once per day, as l ittle as 17 pounds to 50 pounds per cow, depending on the ration and using whatever commodities are most cost-effective at the time. He notes that, in his setup, calves can get under the hot wire to graze in the meadow and be supplemented away from the cows. This not only allows the calves a clean environ- ment to go, but enables him to start introducing feed to them. "That's where a system like this has a real advantage," Diederich says. "Because while weaning is usually a really stressful time, it isn't for my calves. They've been on the weaning ration and getting used to the idea for 30 to 40 days before I shut the gate." He also grazes his Sundangrass in paddocks or cells, to add to his efficiency. He has designed his cells to be the size where a group of cows can be in there for about three days. Any bigger, Diederich says, a nd they knock the stalks down a nd don't want to eat that stalk. "But if it's on day three, it is fresh enough on the ground that they'll go ahead and pick it up and clean it off. And so then, we graze every- thing in the cell, and then we move on. Then, this plant already has a root system set up, and it will grow like crazy regenerating itself." Diederich says a system like this is flexible, and you can continually tweak it to make sure it is best fit- ting your needs. There is one thing you can't change, though, and must consider before choosing a site. That's why his parting advice is se- lecting a well-draining area. H e s a y s , " b e c a u s e t h e o n e thing you can't do is make water go uphill." FL FEED•LOT  March 2018 15

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