6 Tips to Lower your Feed Costs in Cattle Farming 



6 Tips to Lower your Feed Costs in Cattle Farming 



Ration formulation for improved efficiency and lower feed costs.

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Overcoming the protein challenge


To sustain profitability, dairy and beef producers need to examine their feed management and nutritional applications. By using good-quality forage, supporting rumen health and using a tailored ration formulation, producers can cut back on their losses and keep their operations running more efficiently — thereby resulting in potential cost savings. This organizational agility is of paramount importance to overcoming the protein challenge.


Forage quality

With the continual rise of corn and soybean prices, producers should make the most of cheaper high-fiber feeds, especially forages. Plan to make the highest-quality forage possible, since this is a major component of the slowly digestible part of ruminant diets. Forage is the most variable feed ingredient in terms of its digestibility and nutrient composition, and it comprises a greater proportion of the ration than any other feedstuff. High-quality forage is more digestible, so you will be able to feed more of it. Rumen health and productivity will improve with the use of high-quality forages, and as such, forages can influence feed efficiency in dairy and beef cattle through the maintenance of a desirable rumen environment.


Support the rumen

There are several elements to increasing feed efficiency in ruminants, but one of the most important is to use the rumen to its full potential by supporting the activity and growth of rumen microflora. This enables dietary nutrients to be extracted from the diet as efficiently as possible. The nutrients provided to the rumen microflora must be well-balanced in terms of their fermentable energy and protein supply. Fermentable protein nutrition must be specifically adapted to maximize rumen microbial population activity and growth, as different populations have different requirements in term of how nitrogen is supplied.

READ ALSO: : Improving the Health of Newborn Calves with Probiotics

Wasted energy means wasted profits

For years, nutritionists have overfed crude protein to meet the amino acid requirements for their desired milk yield or daily liveweight gains. Besides the significant increase in input costs, this also results in poor nitrogen efficiency and, subsequently, higher nitrogen excretion, which is detrimental to both the environment and the producer’s profits. The dairy cow inherently suffers as a result of poor nitrogen efficiency, since excessive nitrogen is converted first into ammonia and then into urea — which is partially recycled, but the vast majority is excreted. Ultimately, there is an energy loss associated with this process due to the detoxification of ammonia into urea. This energy cost comes at the expense of productivity and biological functions. The energy required to excrete excess nitrogen in a dairy cow is equivalent to up to 2 kg (4.4 lbs.) of milk and can lead to:

Body condition loss

Increased blood and milk urea levels

Issues with reproductive performance

Lower protein doesn’t have to mean lower performance

With the tightening of global protein supplies, producers may face a shortage later this year and will need to stretch their existing stocks. But what if lower-protein diets could be fed while still maintaining performance?

Here are six tips to help you:

Increasing prices and demand for proteins mean that close attention should be paid to the nutritional composition of vegetable protein stocks, which could vary in their consignment and place of origin and, as a result, put animal performance at risk.

Make the most of cheaper high-fiber feeds, especially forages, but ensure that those forages are high-quality.

Support the rumen and ensure that it is being used to its full potential. This will enable nutrients to be extracted from the diet as efficiently as possible.

READ ALSO: How to Give the Best Calf Care

Consider feeding balanced, lower-protein diets to stretch your protein supplies, which may be necessary in case of a shortage later this year.

Take this opportunity to look at how environmentally friendly the feedstuffs you use are, as protein sources can carry a high carbon burden if they are not sourced from responsible production, ultimately impacting the long-term sustainability of the operation.

Contributed by Holly Geraghty

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