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Ways to Improve Cattle Gains

Supplemental feed for pasture cattle can pump up gains, but there’s a downside. You have the daily chore of hand-feeding, maybe in a remote location.

There’s a solution for that. A feed program from Kent called Exact Beef CIT (controlled intake technology) lets you control the daily feed intake, even from a self-feeder. Kent beef nutritionist Steve Sachtleben, who developed the program, lists several advantages.

  • You control the amount. Exact Beef CIT controls intake through a proprietary blend of ingredients, he explains. The level of Exact Beef CIT can be varied from 10% to 90% of the total mix. It will self-limit daily intake to about 0.5% to 2% of the animal’s body weight, or 3 to 12 pounds of feed consumed per day.
  • It is more economical. Previous feed-limiting programs were usually based on fish oil. Exact Beef CIT is not, Sachtleben says, so it’s not subject to availability and wide price swings.
  • It fits many operations. The program can work where limiting the supplemental feed intake is desired, such as cow-calf, stocker, creep feeds, and breeding stock. 
  • A pasture can be stocked at a higher rate. “The dry feed consumed from the self-feeder will generally reduce the amount of forage consumed by the same amount,” says Sachtleben. “If less grass is consumed, more cattle can graze.”
  • You save on labor. Exact Beef CIT may require only one trip to the field per week to refill the self-feeder, compared with daily hand-feeding in a bunk, says Sachtleben. “It provides an economic return if you have limited time for daily feeding.”

Angus seedstock producer Brian Marshall has used the program for developing heifers and sometimes for cows, too. 

The Malta Bend, Missourian varies the ratio of Exact Beef to corn to control consumption. For grazing heifers, a ratio of 60% Exact Beef and 40% corn will give 5 to 7 pounds of daily intake. 

“I get an additional 1.5 to 2 pounds of gain per head per day compared with no supplement,” says Marshall.

Antibiotic alternative

One way you can reduce dependence on antibiotics is by adding products like yeast cultures to feeds to promote gut health. Celmanax from Arm & Hammer Animal Nutrition is an option. 

Research shows this product improves daily gains by 5% to 8% and feed efficiency by 8% to 12%, says the company. Gut pathogens and respiratory diseases, including BRD, have been reduced. 

Technical services manager Jeff Weyers says the manufacturing process yields components called refined functional carbohydrates that support beneficial intestinal bacteria. “They bind the harmful ones like E. coli and Salmonella. That makes it of high interest to the finishing segment of the industry to reduce shedding of those pathogens,” he says. 

The cost, Weyers says, is about 5¢ a day in calf rations and shows a return on investment of up to 8:1.

Blood test

BioPRYN is a protein-based pregnancy test from BioTracking, Inc. that delivers early and economical pregnancy test results from a blood sample. The test evaluates the blood for a pregnancy-specific protein B (PSPB) that is produced by the placenta. 

The test can be accurately used at 28 days after breeding in cows and 25 days in heifers. For recipients of an embryo transfer, blood can be collected at 28 days of embryo age. Accuracy is greater than 99% when an animal is categorized as open.

Over 40 veterinary and diagnostic affiliate laboratories, including several in the Midwest and Plains states, are licensed to perform the analysis. They are listed at the BioPRYN website. Results may be available within one day.

Two cc’s of blood from each animal is collected in a Vacutainer tube, labeled, and sent to the lab for analysis. Pricing starts at about $2.50 per test.

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