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Feeding Cattle In A High Dollar Corn Market

The year 2020 has come and gone, and it has been a year unlike any other. The ups and downs in the cattle market have taken their toll on farmers and ranchers at one point or another.

No one expected corn to reach $5 per bushel, but here we are. If you’re selling corn this year, the corn board could currently look like a gift. But if you’re one of the many farmers and ranchers trying to grow cattle on corn, this market can look especially grim.

It has caused us to really sit down and evaluate our feeding programs. Why do we feed corn? What are the advantages? What are the disadvantages? Are there other alternatives we can use in a market such as this?

Advantages

  • High energy & digestibility: Corn is highly digestible in the rumen and is energy-dense, which allows cattle to lay down condition fairly quickly.
  • Marbling: Calves fed moderate levels of grain early in life begin laying down intramuscular fat, also known as marbling.
  • Palatability: Corn is extremely palatable to cattle of all ages.

Disadvantages

  • Starch levels: Corn is high starch, which negatively affects forage digestion.
  • Low protein content: Protein sources are often required to accompany corn due to inadequate protein levels.
  • Further processing: More often than not, corn will need to be further processed, which adds extra costs. Processing such as rolling, grinding, or steam flaking, does not usually result in greater average daily gain but it can improve feed efficiency.

Corn Alternatives

There are a variety of non-corn grain energy options available on the market. Some of these are lower in starch, with similar energy values, such as distillers and beet pulp. These feed alternatives can be very palatable and can be much more cost-efficient in times like these today. One of the most important factors to consider when selecting an alternative feed is its efficiency. If cattle aren’t efficient on it, it can cost you more than you think. In addition to grain alternatives, feed additives can give an additional boost to digestibility and efficiency.

AgriGro’s Got Your Back

AgriGro is invested in your long term profitability. And for that, efficiency is key. Nutri-Zyme® is a feed and water additive that improves gut health and intake, which leads to better gain and overall improved health. With all of these factors in place, improved efficiency is inevitable. Learn more about AgriGro and Nutri-Zyme® today.


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Lagoon Management in Animal Agriculture

Over the years, agriculture has become more efficient, meaning we can feed more people on fewer resources, less waste, and fewer emissions. According to the USDA, land usage has decreased by 24% and labor by 75% over the last 65 years. As the population continues to grow, communities are starting to encroach closer to farmland. Most folks like the idea and serenity of the countryside, but not all appreciate the smell that can come along with it. Just as land and labor efficiencies have advanced over the years, odor management has followed suit in the development of new technologies.

Agricultural lagoons

The main purpose of a lagoon is to store and treat organic waste found in wastewater. There are a couple of different types of lagoons, including anaerobic and aerobic lagoons. Most farms use anaerobic lagoons, as they require fewer input costs and work well in rural locations. Two layers of waste are formed in anaerobic lagoons: the sludge layer and effluent layer. The sludge layer is the portion of heavy organic particulates that sink to the bottom. The effluent layer is the water on top, which is extremely important in the regulation of pH and proper degradation of organic matter. In addition to primary lagoon uses, the effluent has additional applications. For example, portions of this layer can be pumped off to use in flush systems in barns or as fertilizer on fields (Texas Animal Manure Management Issues).

How do lagoons work?

Treatment of anaerobic lagoons involves stabilization of the waste, which is a two-step process (EPA).

#1 – The acid phase: Acid production must take place to produce acetate, propionate, and lactate. 

#2 – Methane production: The acids mentioned previously are converted to acetate and are then used to produce methane. 

Methane production is the end result of waste stabilization. If volatile fatty acids are found in high concentration, the lagoon is not working properly and requires further treatment to stabilize pH.

AgriGro’s Innovative Technology

Indigo® is a wastewater treatment designed to reduce odors and enhance biodegradation of organic matter found in lagoons. This state of the art technology enhances methanogenic bacterial production to control odors and stabilize lagoon organic matter. 

While most lagoons used in agriculture are anaerobic, this product is extremely versatile and can be used in both anaerobic and aerobic lagoons. With Indigo®, you will see a difference in odor within only 48 hours after application. Increase the lifetime productivity of your lagoon with the help of Indigo®.




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SOURCES:  Wang, S. L., Nehring, R., and Mosheim, R. 2018. Agricultural Productivity Growth in the United States: 1948-2015. In United States Department of Agriculture- Economic Research Service. Retrieved from https://www.ers.usda.gov/amber-waves/2018/march/agricultural-productivity-growth-in-the-united-states

Vitamin & Mineral Supplementation in Cattle

Vitamins and minerals are nutrients required in order to perform vital bodily functions. Examples of such functions include…

  • Muscle development
  • Reproduction
  • Lactation

…and pretty much every other function of the living body.

Requirements vary based on the age and stage of production your cattle are in. Some requirements can be met through their diet without additional supplementation, whereas others need to be provided in order to meet requirements. It is just as important to not excessively exceed requirements as it is important to meet them, as interactions among minerals can occur and thereby decrease the effectiveness.

Common minerals requiring supplementation include phosphorus, calcium, magnesium, iodine, selenium, zinc, vitamin A, and vitamin E.

Phosphorous 

Phosphorus is essential for sexual maturity and expressing heat. It is required by ruminal microbes for efficient digestion. Lameness is often observed when phosphorus is deficient.

Calcium 

Calcium is vital for bone development and growth, milk production, and muscle function. If cows are not provided enough dietary calcium prior to calving, a fatal condition commonly known as milk fever can occur, in which calcium requirements for lactation exceed that of calcium available in the body.

Generally, the desired calcium: phosphorus ratio is 2:1 and is important to keep balanced in ruminant diets.

Magnesium

Muscles require magnesium in order to contract and relax. Lush grass is often low in magnesium, which leads to a condition known as grass tetany, and is caused by a magnesium deficiency. Grass tetany causes muscle convulsions and death if not treated immediately.

Iodine

Iodine aids in immunity and thyroid function. Thyroid hormones are used in the digestion, metabolization, and use of energy. Iodine requirements are usually met by feeding iodized salt, which can be found in most range minerals or easily provided through salt blocks.

Selenium

Energy, proper growth and development, and reproduction are each directly impacted by selenium concentrations. Cows with selenium deficiencies are often seen with retained placentas and poor breed back. Additionally, scours and weakness are symptoms of selenium deficiencies in calves.

Selenium is quite toxic at high levels, and therefore, a maximum inclusion rate is monitored and regulated by the FDA.

Zinc

Zinc is important for reproductive development and function, as well as protein synthesis. This mineral also contributes largely to hair, skin, and hoof growth/ hardiness, as well as immune function.

Vitamin A

Vitamin A is vital in eyesight and epithelial cell development, which are the cells that makeup skin and other tissues. Additionally, it aids in immunity, reproduction, and growth.

Vitamin E

Vitamin E is important for immunity, nerve function, and muscle development. In cases in which vitamin E is deficient, calves can have a stiff gate due to degrading muscles in the legs. Exact requirements in cattle are still unknown, however, when levels are found to be too low, the effects are detrimental.

How can you maximize your vitamin and mineral supplementation? 

AgriGro’s all-natural NutriZyme® is a feed and water additive that contains vitamins and minerals to boost gut health for maximum efficiency. NutriZyme® enhances the breakdown of your supplements and forages, providing even more nutrients to your herd. Contact a rep to find out even more about how AgriGro® can help your herd




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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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