All homegrown feeds contain some fungal spores. When the temperature and humidity are right, these spores will grow and multiply to create mould. Mycotoxins come from these fungal moulds and can reduce animal health and productivity. Many moulds found in feeds are not toxic, but some varieties produce substances that can result in disease when they are ingested. Of the thousands of moulds that grow on stored grains and forages, only a few will produce mycotoxins.
The nutritional quality of feeds and forage can have a tremendous influence on the reproductive performance of cattle. This document describes the effect of deficiencies and imbalances of both macro and micro nutrients on reproductive performance.
Vitamins A and E are important nutritional factors in livestock production. Producers need to be aware that changes in the availability of these essential vitamins can have an effect on their operation.
Improving the feed efficiency of a beef cattle herd can mean big savings for producers. One way to achieve this goal is to select breeding bulls that are naturally feed-efficient, since 80 to 90 per cent of the genetic improvement in a herd comes through the sires.
Creep feeding is the practice of providing supplemental feed to calves before weaning. Creep feeding helps in supplementing mother’s milk and pasture. The feed is provided in a facility designed so that adult animals are unable to consume the creep feed. By providing creep feed, it is possible to increase preweaning weight gains and weaning weights. However, the selling price of the calves and the cost of feed must be considered when a producer is making a decision about creep feeding. Creep feeding has many advantages, but there are also disadvantages that must be considered by the livestock producer.
This fact sheet can both guide producers through a feed test and help them understand the results. With a feed test in front of you, look at the following rules and compare them to the feed test. Remember, these are rules of thumb, which means they hold true most of the time, but variations in management and cow type will affect the end result. These rules of thumb should not be considered a replacement for balancing rations with proven software, but rather an aid to understand the feed and where it fits in the management.
This fact sheet outlines the nutrients that are basic to good cattle nutrition and how well Alberta feeds succeed in supplying these nutrients.
Before making management decisions about feeding beef cattle and calves, producers need to answer the following questions: How much feed is available on the farm? What is the quality of the feed? What is the cost of purchasing feed and supplements? Do the cows need to gain weight during the winter? Are the calves going into a feedlot or back onto grass? What is the required weight gain from the calves? How will interest rates and overhead costs affect break-evens? Plan a winter feeding program well in advance. Use the tools available to sample feed, and obtain feed test results. A balanced ration minimizes costs and improves animal performance.