CowBytes, Alberta Agriculture and Forestry’s ration balancing program, continues to be a popular choice for cattle producers in Alberta and beyond its borders.
“Overall forage quality this year is much lower than the 5 year average,” says Barry Yaremcio, beef and forage specialist at the Alberta Ag-Info Centre.
CowBytes was developed for producers to design cattle feeding programs, and he adds that the program helps producers make optimum use of their home-grown feeds and to determine what needs to be purchased.
“With many forages having low protein and energy, it is necessary to consider different options to supplement rations. Taking advantage of lower cost alternative feeds or byproducts can reduce winter feeding costs and improve nutrition.”
He says that forage prices have moderated compared to a couple years ago.
“However, the need to supply extra protein with a commercial supplement, byproducts such as canola meal or distillers grains, or home grown peas, lentils or fababeans will offset the reduced forage costs.”
“When feed costs make up approximately 70% of the variable cost of keeping a cow over winter, anything that can be done to reduce feed costs improves net profit. For every dollar winter feed cost is reduced, net return or benefit to the operation is $4.28.”
Providing a cost-efficient balanced ration also affects cow productivity.
“Pregnant and lactating cows that have an adequate ration that meets nutritional requirements increases milk production and reproductive performance in the next breeding season compared to a cow that is not in adequate condition at calving. Having more cows conceive earlier in the breeding season increases the number of calves – and possibly larger calves – available to sell which increases total income.”
Learn more about CowBytes, try the demo and purchase it on CD or USB.
For technical support, connect with the Alberta Ag-Info Centre:
Hours: 8 am to 5 pm (open Monday to Friday, closed statutory holidays)
Toll free: 310-FARM (3276)
For media inquiries about this article, call Alberta Agriculture and Forestry’s media line: