John Jaegar – Confinement Feeding Females

(John) I’m Dr. John Jaeger, I’m from the western Kansas Agricultural Research Center in Hays. And I’m here at Cattleman’s Day to talk about confinement feeding of breeding females. And really when we think about confinement feeding or limited feeding cattle, it’s usually in response to drought. And the drought over the last several years has really caused us to delve into that subject more and do more research projects looking at confined feeding. And we’ve really found it’s very easy to do. It’s not as detrimental to the cows as what we once thought it was and with increased pasture price and decreased pasture availability, there’s… many producers are implementing confined feeding as a very economical way to maintain cows on a year around basis. And our research… the last project that we’ve wrapped up was looking at feeding a base forage of ground wheat straw, and then we had ammoniated wheat straw at either half rate, one and a half percent dry matter basis, or three percent the normal rate, which has been used in the past. Cows were fed at 1.9 percent of their body weight. And they performed very, very well and actually gained weight during the trial period. So, what I really hoped to get across to producers today is we can use confined feeding, a very economical method to maintain cows on a yearly basis and it can be adopted to be used as late season in the summer when forage quality begins to decline, as well as quantity. And we can utilize it with either pairs or dry cows and it’s just a nice stepping stone to move from late season grazing into early fall or winter grazing when we’re gonna be supplementing those cows anyway. So, it’s an economical method you can step into it very easily, only use it for three months out of the year. Or if you’re a young producer and you don’t have a lot of pasture availability, there’s a lot of excess feedlot space right now. And so those young producers can work with a feedlot and actually keep their cows in the feedlot the majority of the year. And you can maintain those cows. Feed costs can get down to only $1.50 a day and total cost would be about $2.00 a day to maintain a cow in a feedlot. So, it’s a very economical method to maintain cows. They perform well. The calves are healthy. They do very well in that environment. And so I really hope that it’s an option that we can look at in the future as another way to produce beef cattle. The 2013 study, it’s been fully complete and written up and it will presented at the Western Section Animal Science meetings, so it will be available in those proceedings. And then we’ll publish it shortly thereafter in the Professional Animal Scientist. The 2014 study, we’re just analyzing the data from now and I think it was comparing early weaning versus conventional time weaning as well as dry lot versus pasture. So, we’ve got all different aspects of cows on grass, cows in drylot, pairs on grass, pairs on drylot and so we’re really looking at the economics and performance of both cows and calves in those two different systems.

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