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Protein Supplementation Benefits Cattle

Protein is usually the costliest portion of the diet, but it can be even more costly to limit protein in the bovine diet.

Protein Supplementation

Protein supplementation can help give a boost to all classes of cattle, but those on forage-based rations will benefit the most. Additional protein helps the rumen to break down forages quicker, which will increase passage rate, and ultimately can increase intake. Ruminal microbes are powered by protein, so as supplemental protein is introduced to the rumen, more microbes are able to attach and break down fiber within the rumen. Not much supplementation is required to boost ruminal microbes, as only a few pounds per head per day can be enough.

Consequences of limiting protein

Limiting protein supplementation in situations where low-quality forages make up the majority of the ration can be detrimental. A lack of protein can lead to decreased efficiency, which spurs further issues such as low milk production and/ or loss of body condition. When cattle are grazing dormant forages or poor quality hay in the winter months, this becomes especially important.

Supplementation methods

There are many ways to provide supplemental protein. Which method works best for you depends on your management style. For producers who are able to check on their cattle every day, providing supplemental protein through a feed or grain is usually the most cost-efficient. For those with cattle spread further apart, daily check-ins can be more difficult. In cases such as this, protein tubs or liquid protein supplements can be quite effective.

Feed, protein tubs, and liquid supplements can each be moved throughout pastures to encourage grazing in often untouched areas of the pasture. Equal grazing distribution helps stretch pasture further so less hay may be needed throughout the winter and manure can more evenly be distributed throughout the pasture.

Want to further improve your forage efficiency?

AgriGro’s NutriZyme® is the answer. This all-natural water and feed additive improves efficiency by altering the gut microbiome to improve digestibility. Whether you supplement protein through feed, tubs, or liquid supplements, NutriZyme® will help you get maximum benefit for your dollar.




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Grazing Corn Stalks

americancattlemen.com

Winter has struck here in the U.S. and winter feeding programs are underway. With harvest behind us, many cornfields sit untouched, with cornstalk residue left behind. When fed properly, this residue can be a great feed resource. 

Corn stalks are a low-cost and resourceful way to provide fiber, roughage, and energy to cows throughout the winter. Since cows are selective grazers, they will start first by consuming any leaves or husks remaining. Additionally, cattle will gravitate towards any grain left behind, as it tastes the best. Usually, very little grain can be found in the field after harvest, but if winds were high during harvest, higher concentrations of grain could be on the ground. While this usually isn’t an issue, it is good practice to evaluate what is left behind prior to turning cows out to make sure there isn’t enough remaining to cause bloat. Next, they will move on to the less palatable and less nutritive portions- the cobs and stalks. 

Cattle can consume stalks covered in up to 6-inches of snow but are unable to break through if covered in ice. In situations such as this, cattle will need to be provided with hay to meet their nutritional demands. Additionally, stocking rates will determine how much supplementation may or may not be required.

Depending on the stage of production, the majority of energy requirements can be met through grazing corn stalks. Protein, however, is about 5.0-6.0% on average, so additional protein supplementation may be needed to meet requirements and enhance forage digestion

Feeding a feed source you’ve already invested in, such as grazing stalks, is a very cost-efficient way of providing feed. The more nutrients cattle are able to take in with what you already have, the better off your pocketbook will be. 

This concept was a key factor in the development of AgriGro’s product, NutriZyme®. NutriZyme® is a water and/or feed additive that helps boost digestion to maximize nutrient uptake. This additive positively affects ruminal microbial selection to enhance health, digestion, and subsequently performance in your animals. Place your AgriGro order today and give it a try!




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The Cost of Efficiency – Does It Cost More?

The number one question producers ask when learning a new feed or product is, “What does it cost?” And almost always, units will be given in terms of dollars per weight, whether in tons, pounds, or bushels. While this number can ultimately get you to what you are looking for, there may be a better way to think about it, depending on your final goals.

Here are a couple of other ways to look at it. 

  • Dollars per unit of weight 
  • Dollars per head per day
  • Feed cost of gain (FCOG)

Dollars per unit of weight

This is the most common way to evaluate feed prices and can vary depending on feedstuffs. For example, corn is measured in bushels, feed-in tons, and additives are usually measured in pounds due to their low inclusion rates. One problem with this determinant of cost is that it’s not very comparable. If you were to convert corn from bushels to tons, it likely would cost much less on a per ton basis than a blended feed would, but it tells you nothing about the nutrients you need or what kind of performance you may get out of it.

Dollars per head per day

This is an easy way for producers to know how much they spend per day on feed costs and is especially useful in maintenance animals, such as cows and bulls. 

Let’s say Product A costs $250/ton, and Product B costs $300/ton. It’s easy to assume Product A will cost you less in the long run. But before making that decision, think to yourself, “What are the feeding rates of these products?” Imagine the $250/ton product requires feeding 10 lbs./head/day, and the $300/ton product requires feeding 5 lbs./head/day.

Product A: 

  • $250 ÷ 2,000 lbs. = $0.125/ lbs. 
    • $0.125 × 10 = $1.25/head/day

Product B:

  • $300 ÷ 2,000 lbs. = $0.15/ lbs.
    • $0.15 × 5 = $0.75/head/day

We can see that it is ultimately the lesser expensive product because we can use less of Product B.

Feed Cost of Gain

Feed cost of gain (FCOG) is a measurement of how much feed was required to increase gain by one pound. This measurement is a measurement of cost and savings and is also used to measure performance efficiency. FCOG is most important in growing animals such as calves and yearlings. 

Let’s use the same product examples used above, with Product A costing $250/ton, feeding 10 lbs./head/day, and expecting 2.2 lbs. in average daily gain. We expect 1.9 lbs. on average daily gain from Product B when fed at a rate of 5 lbs./head/day, and it costs $300/ton. 

Product A: 

  • $250 ÷ 2,000 lbs. = $0.125/ lbs. 
    • $0.125 × 10 = $1.25/head/day
      • $1.25 ÷ 2.2 lbs. in average daily gain = $0.57 per lb. of gain

Product B:

  • $300 ÷ 2,000 lbs. = $0.15/ lbs.
    • $0.15 × 5 = $0.75/head/day
      • $0.75 ÷ 1.9 lbs. on average daily gain = $0.39 per lb. of gain

In this example, even though you are gaining less per day, your overall feed cost per pound of gain is less. 

Feed products will vary in cost as the market changes, but it’s always important to look at the numbers from multiple angles. At first glance, Product A appeared to be the cheaper option, but by breaking it down in measurements comparable to the goal at hand, we can determine which product is best suited to achieve your goals. 

AgriGro Cares About Efficiency

Producer efficiency is one of the key drivers for the development of AgriGro’s products. NutriZyme® improves efficiency through improved digestion, leading to increased gain, greater weaning weights, and higher milk production. 

Improve your efficiency and stretch your dollar with the help of AgriGro. 

Contact a rep or click here to learn more about incorporating Nutri-Zyme® into your production.




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How Does Stress Affect Your Bottom Dollar?

In a world where certain agricultural decisions are made based on public perception, stress has been a highly discussed and researched topic. As more research is done, we shed light on potential stressors and how much they can affect performance as an industry.

Any number of factors can cause stress, and each species, breed, and individual animal will respond differently. A common stressor in cattle is caused by weather conditions and temperatures, otherwise known as heat stress or cold stress. Cattle have a narrow thermoneutral zone, meaning there is little wiggle room between what cattle perceive as too hot or too cold. Cattle begin heat stress at 77° F and cold stress at 32° F in dry, non-windy conditions. Once outside of the thermoneutral zone, cattle expend energy to maintain temperature as best they can. This energy expense could have otherwise been used for production, and therefore is a costly stressor. 

Animal handling is another common stressor—cattle like routine. Therefore, stress is caused when they are taken out of their usual environment and handled by humans. Handling cattle can be necessary to treat illnesses, provide vaccines, castration, implement animal IDs such as ear tags, etc. While this may be routine practice for the producer, cattle quickly get stressed from the event. As prey animals, cattle like to be able to see in front of them and don’t like sharp corners because they can’t see around them. Based on this knowledge, the industry has completely revolutionized chute systems to be more suited to bovine behavior.

What does stress do?

Stress can negatively affect several systems within the body. For example, stress decreases immune function, production, reproduction & fertility, lack of body condition maintenance, and the list goes on.

How does stress affect production?

After a day of working cattle, you may notice they go off feed for a day or two. When stressed, cattle go into “fight or flight” mode, and with cattle being prey animals, they naturally lean towards flight. In this mode, energy and blood are directed towards vital functions and organs. The stomach is not one of these, so decreased rumination is observed in stressed animals. Reduced rumination leads to decreased intake, leading to increased susceptibility for illness and a lack of gain. (Learn more about Ruminant Nutrition Here)

Hormonal changes occur during times of stress, as well. Stress causes oxytocin release to decline, lowering milk production. Adrenocorticotropin is released from the brain in times of high stress and causes immune suppression. Cortisol and lactic acid can lead to altered flavor and toughness of meat products. 

Death loss, poor quality meat, and decreased production of both meat and milk are factors of stress that will directly impact your bottom dollar and, therefore, should be taken under significant consideration.

What can AgriGro do?

AgriGro offers NutriZyme®, an all-natural feed & water additive. While we can’t eliminate stress, we can help to prevent and combat its affects. NutriZyme® combats stress by increasing appetite and enhancing healthy gut bacteria to boost digestion. Additionally, immune responses are augmented to keep animals healthy during times of high stress.

Contact a rep or click here to learn more about incorporating Nutri-Zyme® into your production.




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Determining Forage Supplementation

How do you know which hay to feed to different groups of cattle? The nutritional content of forages will vary due to numerous factors. These factors include season, forage growth rates, animal stage of production, producer ability to supplement, and the list goes on from there.

Seasonality

In the United States, hay season usually spans from early summer to early fall, and farmers work tirelessly to get as many cuttings in as possible. Timing is key. Cut too early and overall yield for the year will be low. Cut too late and grass will have matured too much. As the plant matures, more structure is required to keep it standing tall, and the quicker it grows, the quicker fiber develops. As fiber content increases, protein decreases, and digestion becomes much more difficult. This knowledge often times brings producers to question, “How do I know which hay to feed to which groups of animals?” (learn more about the importance of fiber in Ruminant Nutrition here)

Animal Stage of Production and Requirements

First, it is important to determine animal stage of production and nutritional requirements. Nutritional requirements will vary throughout a lifetime, requiring more or less depending on the demands of the body. For a cow-calf operation, the title for the highest nutritional requirements belongs to the lactating cow, specifically during the early stages of lactation. On a stocker operation, lighter weight calves have greater requirements for structural growth in comparison to their heavier counterparts laying down fat.

Supplementation Rates

Once you have determined the nutritional requirements of each group, you can now look at how much hay they will need vs. how much they can physically consume. Those requiring the greatest amount of nutrients should be fed more nutrient-dense feed sources. This approach will allow lower feeding rates in order to reach nutritional needs.

In years when hay quality suffers, physical fill, or gut fill, becomes even more important to pay attention to. The rumen wall contains receptors called “Stretch Receptors”. When the rumen gets full, the walls will stretch and trigger stretch receptors to signal to the brain that it is full, and the cow will stop eating. If receptors are triggered prior to meeting nutritional requirements, loss of body condition can occur. In these cases, additional supplementation is required to enhance feed efficiency and utilization.

Ability To Supplement

The ability of supplementation can vary drastically depending on your location. For instance, a producer in Arkansas may have their herd within a few mile radius but a rancher in Montana may have their herd spread across hundreds of miles. Supplementation types and concentrations will vary drastically depending on how often you are able to provide it.

Supplementation will look different for every rancher and farmer, but whatever the program is, the development of a proper nutritional program is necessary for long term profitability.

How can AgriGro add to your long term profitability?

Nutri-Zyme® is an all-natural supplement designed for all farmers and ranchers. This prebiotic can be added directly to the feed daily or added to water sources for those who may not be able to feed every day. Nutri-Zyme® enhances gut health and digestive efficiency, allowing you to get the most out of your forages. Nutri-Zyme® contains additional magnesium, which is especially important to combat grass tetany during lush forage growth. Additionally, the supplemental zinc found in Nutri-Zyme® improves hoof integrity, which is especially important when cattle are required to walk long distances for food, water, or fresh forages.

*Don’t forget to use FoliarBlend® and AgriCal® on your forage crops to improve hay quality and nutritional levels.* Watch video.

Contact a rep or click here to learn more about incorporating Nutri-Zyme® into your production.




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