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Cattle Feeders Should Stay Flexible, Seek Advice

Cattle Feeders Should Stay Flexible, Seek Advice
Disruptions caused by COVID-19 grow each day. Volatility in the cattle market was one of the first disruptions, and now with ethanol plant slowing production or shutting down, local availability of corn coproducts may be limited. Iowa Beef Center director Dan Loy said making plans now based on current and potential input availability will help producers determine their next steps.
"This situation is very local, continuously changing, and will vary from producer to producer and community to community," he said. "Supply disruptions could potentially affect other inputs such as feed additives, implants and trace nutrients. Hopefully these disruptions will be short-lived."
Here are three tips to help you manage the current challenges for your operation.

1.In feedlot diets, soybean meal or urea based supplements (dry or liquid) can replace all of the protein from corn coproducts. However, remember smaller calves, calves with lower feed intake or those on growing diets may not be able to utilize all of the protein from urea. Formulating on the basis of metabolizable protein accounts for this. The high solubility of urea also comes with limits. Consider these limits for the safety of beef cows and backgrounding cattle. Other potential protein sources that may be on hand include whole soybeans. At 40% protein soybeans can be a good protein source for beef cattle. The fat content (20%) limits the amount that can be fed. Also cereal rye, harvested at the boot stage can be as high as 20% protein or higher.

2.When substituting a higher protein supplement for distillers grains you will likely be substituting corn for distillers as a source of energy, adding more starch to the diet. Be sure to use an adjustment period and consider adding more fiber to the diet and managing feed bunks more closely.

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