Feed Lot

SEP-OCT 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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Lancaster then called in addi- tional help from Lallemand Ani- mal Nutrition. "The problems Rhea Brothers GP experienced are common, but that doesn't mean producers should put up with high shrink losses," said Renato Schmidt, Ph.D., Technical Services – Silage, Lallemand Ani- mal Nutrition. "In fact, the losses are only part of the story. Producers can see there's less feed available, but what we can't see is what's lost. It's quality that disappears too. The initial nutrient losses are often valu- able sugars, organic acids, starch and proteins." Packing Up Lancaster started making chang- es from the ground up. One of the management problems he identi- fied was the pack density of the bunker pile. He used an online calculator from the University of Wisconsin (available at https://fyi. uwex.edu/forage/harvest) to help determine the weight needed for efficient packing. The free calcu- lator accounts for multiple factors, including the base width of the pile, the delivery rate of forage to the pile, the forage dry matter (DM) content and more. Getting the packing density right helps drive out air and speeds up the fermentation, Dr. Schmidt explained. "Oxygen is the enemy of high- quality silage. Poor packing can cause problems at ensiling and all the way to feedout," he said "Pack- ing literally squeezes air out of the silage. While oxygen is present, aer- obic spoilage microbes can grow. As a result, producers experience reduced silage quality, shrink and nutrient losses." Rhea Brothers GP near Arling- ton, Neb., already had a success- ful feeding program. For years, its knowledgeable crew grew, chopped, ensiled and fed their own crops. A little more than 8 percent of the oper- ation's total rations were comprised of corn silage, ryelage or occasion- ally high-moisture corn (HMC). Yet, even experienced crews can run into silage challenges. In 2015, the feedyard saw 30 percent shrink loss with its ryelage — a figure well above its average. It was a signif- icant hit to the year's feed costs, resulting in both less available feed and lower quality feed. Calling In Experts Tracing the source of the prob- lem led the feedyard to re-evaluate both management practices and forage inoculant choices. Andrew Lancaster, Feedyard Manager, de- termined the whole crew needed a refresher on silage management and took them to the Silage for Beef Cattle Conference near Mead, Neb., in June 2016. "The Silage for Beef Cattle Conference was a great learning experience for our team," Lancast- er said. "We noticed that there were small but significant adjust- ments we could make to our silage program that could help prevent losses like we experienced with our ryelage." The conference featured indus- try experts in silage and provided tips on ensuring a successful initial fermentation, reducing shrink loss and the impact of silage inocu- lation. With new information on silage management available to the beef industry, Lallemand Ani- mal Nutrition approached exten- sion specialists from Iowa State University and the University of Nebraska–Lincoln. Experts from each of the organizations organized a one-day conference, now in its second year. Rhea Brothers GP took new tips back to the feedyard. At home, the team reviewed the cost and benefits of their silage program and addressed issues with inocu- lant selection, pile construction, packing density, face management and aerobic stability. MANAGEMENT Nebraska Feedyard Rethinks Silage Management, Reduces Costs Since following the recommendations, shrink and spoilage were drastically reduced. 6 FEED•LOT September/October 2018

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