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Stretching by-product feed to the max

04/05/2011 @ 2:14pm

That question is high on the minds of cattle producers, especially since corn prices have seen a rapid run-up in the last year. Lots of people try to give producers an answer at the 2011 Cattle Industry Annual Convention.

At the ADM (www.admani.com) booth, marketing manager Sheldon Bailey tells beef producers about ADM's product, AminoGain, which has been available for about a year now. It is one way to make corn by-products go further, he says.

The by-products of corn processing, corn gluten, or distillers' grains (DGs) tend to have a high level of crude protein, but it is not necessarily quality protein. According to ADM, producers should realize that the amino acid profile of corn DGs and corn gluten feed do not match the amino acid profile of lean tissue (muscle) very well.

The disparity is even greater with high-quality, highly muscled cattle. ADM literature notes that the lower the growth potential of the animal, the more likely that animal can have its protein needs met by rumen microbes, and limited response will be observed when feeding AminoGain.

But with better quality cattle, the product shines. “Where the corn by-product is deficient in quality of protein, AminoGain fills the gaps in the amino acid profile, adding to the performance of cattle eating it,” says Bailey.

“We say the payoff is in the 10-10 rule,” he continues. “You get 10% improvement in average daily gain and 10% improvement in feed efficiency. Performance data bears that out.”

Animals are fed a pound of AminoGain per day, usually mixed in with their regular ration. “If they're eating 20 pounds a day, you just mix it in at a level that they get 1 pound of AminoGain. It will cost about an extra 10¢ per head per day, but at the 10-10 rule, the return for feeding it is conservatively 2:1,” says Bailey.

In a research study with a diet containing 20% DGs, the AminoGain cattle had a 13% improvement in feed efficiency and a feed efficiency improvement of 17.5%. Cost of gain was reduced by 6.4%, according to the company.

Up to 900 pounds

“We recommend feeding it up to about 900 pounds,” Bailey notes. “AminoGain helps cattle put down lean muscle. Up to 900 pounds, that's what they are doing – building muscle. After that they aren't as efficient at lean growth, so AminoGain doesn't make as much sense.”

Up to that weight, cattle are in the stocker phase, and those “are the forgotten animals on most farms,” Bailey says. “They often don't get as much attention – or the quality of feed – as feedlot cattle. AminoGain can really help in that situation. And we are seeing a lot of people in the stocker cattle end of the business get interested in this.

“An implant program will have an effect on the response to AminoGain,” says Bailey. “It really works well in a situation where the animals are implanted. Implants help them put down more lean muscle, and AminoGain lets you feed them for that purpose, too. That's a perfect fit. The more aggressive the implant program, the greater the response to the AminoGain program.”

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