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Feed & Nutrition

Learn about all aspects of cattle nutrition from harvest and storage to balancing rations with forage, byproducts and supplements.

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The following is a fictional story based on real results from a three-year university study.*

Two neighboring ranchers met often at the local coffee shop to argue the merits of their different approaches to cow-calf management. Tom Tightfist was convinced that cutting feed expenses was the only way to improve profits, while his buddy, Sam Spendabuck, believed increasing inputs would net better returns. It was a friendly but passionate argument.

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In less than 40 years, there will be 9.3 billion people on this earth. And, obviously, those people need to be fed. But 2050 will also mean less land, less water and likely a continued unstable world economy.

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Feed typically accounts for 60 percent of the total yearly cost of cow ownership according to Eldon Cole, livestock specialist, University of Missouri Extension.

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‘Tis the season: weaning time. This month we’ll address on-the-farm weaning rations. The biggest hurdle in getting calves started off right in the fall is the weather. That’s one reason to consider early weaning and subsequent backgrounding. If calves get through the stressful process of weaning from their dam and onto feed ahead of the annual fall 35 degree rain, they have a good chance at success.

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The cattle industry is ready to set records for high prices this year and next, said Purdue University Extension economist Chris Hurt.

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This is a question that is commonly asked as producers try to line up spring and summer management considerations, budgets and calf marketing options. The primary objective of this management practice is to put additional weight on the calf before weaning without making the calves fleshy, especially if sold at weaning. Fleshy calves are discounted in market price. To creep or not to creep really boils down to this – can it be accomplished economically to increase the profit potential for the cow-calf enterprise?

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