MFA Incorporated
NUTRITION
MFA adds two new beef feeds
By Dr. Dan Netemeyer, MFA Director of Nutrition

We have had lots of success at MFA with our show rations and have dominated the average-daily-gain awards. I think feeding show cattle can be done well with different types of rations as long as they are fed correctly. Many times this is called the "eye of the master," and it is that ability to know when to increase, decrease or make any other feed changes. This is one of the reasons you see so many show rations. The same individual can do equally well on someone else's ration. This art form is hard for individuals to put in writing.

I would like to put things in a concrete form. To identify the rations and quantity to feed, it is important to realize that feeding for maximum gain may not be the same as feeding for grand champion conformation or even carcass quality. Seldom will the same animal win all three categories.

Animals should be large enough to be finished by show day. You can accomplish this by estimating finishing weight and average daily gain. Subtract the gain to get the size steer you would like to start with. For example, if you plan to feed the steer for a 150-day period, expect a 3.5-pound gain per day and a finishing weight of 1,250, you can calculate that your steer should weigh (1,250 - (150 x 3.5)) 725 pounds. If you did better than a 3.5 average daily gain last year, use last year's gain.

It takes three weeks to adjust cattle to full feed. You can do this by starting the animal on your show ration at 0.5 percent of body weight and increasing the feed by one pound per day until full feed. Hay should be offered for the first week at full feed, 1 percent of body weight the second week and 0.5 percent of body weight the third week. After that, hand-feed hay at 1 1/2 pounds per head per day.

Starting cattle on medium to high amounts of grain long before weigh-in will cause the cattle to stall at the end. Ulcers and abscessed livers are the problem. I have seen many cattle stall, bloat or go backward toward the end of the feeding period. This is usually due to inadequate roughage in the diet or having been on a high-concentrate diet for more than 150 days.

On the other hand, starting cattle on feed too fast at the beginning of the period can cause acidosis, usually perceived as off feed. This acidosis can cause death or founder. Feed troughs should have feed in them at all times. We do not want these show steers to get hungry and then hit the feeder when we get around to feeding them.

It is a good idea to feed small amounts of hay. Ideally, 10 percent of the ration should be roughage. This roughage can be in the form of cottonseed hulls. Using cottonseed hulls instead of hay is ideal and gives the best performance. Because cottonseed hulls are expensive and hard to handle, cottonseed hulls at 10 to 15 percent of the grain ration and hand-feeding hay at one to two pounds per head per day is likely the best program.

Usually the grand champion animal is not the same animal that wins the rate-of-gain or the carcass contest. When feeding heifers or steers for show, the gain will need to be moderated as according to the "eye of the master." I would feed the animals the same as I would for rate-of-gain winners, only I would reduce feed, and thereby the gain, when they appeared to be optimum. The idea is to get them to optimum and then put on the finishing touches. This entails reducing the amount of feed and increasing exercise. Walking animals daily may cause you to need a good horse if you're not in excellent shape. However, the show animal should be viewed as an athlete getting in shape. The exact point of muscle and fat is determined by the "master."

Because of the physical problems in both grinding and mixing cottonseed hulls, MFA has made a new show ration. It contains flaked corn, sprouts, whole flaked oats and Taltec along with a high-quality pellet and ingredients that will enhance palatability, digestion and gain.

Consumption should be 3 to 4 percent of their body weight with expected gains of four pounds per head per day. Feed 1 1/2 pounds of hay per day. The cattle can be hand-fed once or twice daily if given all they can eat until the next feeding. Cattle will eat more feed if hand-fed once or twice a day than if you fill the feeder all the time. When hand-feeding, feed to where there is only a slight amount of feed in the bunk at the next feeding.

MFA has a bull test feed called Rancher's Pride Bull Developer. This feed can be full fed or hand-fed to bulls. Rancher's Pride is a textured feed like the MFA show ration and will appear almost identical.

Bulls should not be fed a high grain ration for more than 150 days. Rancher's Pride will maximize consumption and gain without the bloat and acidosis. Consumption should be 3 to 4 percent of body weight when full fed, and gains in excess of four pounds per day will result. Hay should be fed free choice.

The only dilemma is when bulls are fed for maximum gain, they will consume little roughage. This changes the physical texture of the rumen. Once bulls come off these rations, they have to physically adapt their rumen back to a high-roughage diet. This may take 60 days. This is why many bulls go backward for a period of time when that bull is taken home and turned out on hay or pasture.

 FEBRUARY 2001
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