Feed Lot

APR-MAY 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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10 FEED•LOT April/May 2018 MANAGEMENT Understanding fetal program- ming, and the fact that meeting the nutritional needs of the cow and fetus can lead to healthier cattle years later in the feed yard could be the key, Heldt and Farmer said. Ranchers are selecting bulls and replacement heifers with great ge- netic potential, said Farmer. But they must realize that means an increase in maintenance requirements. "We have to accept that with the increase in genetic potential, we've got to take care of those cows. We've got the technologies out there from a nutritional stand- point to help a guy meet those requirements. But it may be at a greater input cost. Sometimes it is, and sometimes it's just being more efficient, but it's a change of mindset," said Farmer. "You just can't keep kicking the same can down the road." Heldt said there are things a ranch and can do that would still keep a budget in check. He suggest- ed looking to get the "best bang for your buck." "The timing of when people do various things should be evaluated," Farmer explained. "No April, July or October is exactly the same. There are years when supplemen- tal nutrients need to be provided in a time frame you traditionally wouldn't because of drought, early frost, or whatever the situation. People have a preconceived notion that they will start feeding at a certain time of year, but you might T humb through some old livestock magazines and you'll likely grin. Photos of cattle from the 1940s prove the industry has changed significantly. Short, stubby legged cattle have evolved to larger, bigger framed individuals that have recently de- veloped into cattle with even heavi- er carcasses on the same frame size. Genetics and technologies to select for particular traits have delivered finished cattle that our 1940s cattleman would shake his head in amazement. But have our management tech- niques changed with the times as well? Dr. Jeff Heldt and Dr. Chance Farmer, both beef technical service managers for Micronutrients, ask the question if today's practices are keeping up with the nutritional needs of today's cattle. "Genetic trends are on an up- ward increase," said Heldt. "If you look at the 2018 University of Ne- braska Beef Report and a 2000 report, dry matter intake hasn't really changed. Average daily gain has gone up a little, but live weight increased 200 pounds. Carcass weight has seen a 150-200 pound increase as a result of improved genetics and more days on feed." Coupled with that, Heldt says feed yard sickness rates have not changed much, despite new medi- cine and technologies. In fact, feed- lot death loss has actually increased. "Why is that? Is it nutrition? Are today's cattle so ramped up genetically to perform that we've failed to keep up with them nutri- tionally? Are we supplying enough trace minerals and macro minerals to support their genetic makeup and potential?" Heldt asked. The fact is today's cattle are considerably different than those from 30, 20 and even 5 years ago. However, Farmer said it's not nec- essarily related to frame size. "Cow size has exploded, and not necessarily from a frame score situation. We are packing way more animal in the same frame. Because of that, maintenance requirements have gone way up, more than peo- ple would like to admit," he said. Heavier cattle require extra nu- trition – energy, protein, vitamins and minerals. Farmer said in his 15 years as a field consultant, many people didn't anticipate the addi- tional nutri ents they should put into those cows. However, herds that did a good job taking care of cows while pregnant by far had less health problems with their cattle in the pre- conditioning and feed yard phases. His conclusion: meeting the true nutritional needs of the cows can impact calf health all the way through the feeding phase. "It was remarkable. In my years of observation, I say some of our health issues with today's cattle start back at the ranch," said Farm- er. "We are feeding 1,400 pound cows today like we fed 1,200 pound cows years ago." Not Your Momma's Cows ave Changed, our Management Practices Changing, Too? BY JILL J. DUNKEL

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