Beef producers in many Midwestern areas may find themselves short on pasture and grass this year due to the summer's extreme heat and drought. But a group of University of Nebraska-Lincoln researchers have found one workable alternative: mix wet distillers grains and low-quality forage.
A feeding trial was conducted over two summers with yearling steers that grazed native range. The other steers were either fed a mixture of 70:30 or 60:40 hay (baled corn residue)/WDGS, or 60:40 wheat straw/WDGS, according to Terry Klopfenstein, professor of ruminant nutrition at UN-L.
During the first year, all the steers fed WDG-forage mixtures had greater average daily gains than the control group. During the second year, steers that received the WDGS-hay mixtures had similar gains as the control group, while the steers eating the WDGS-straw mixtures gained less weight. Klopfenstein attributed this to the high fiber content of straw that fills cows up faster and reduces their forage intake.
The researchers found that wet distillers grains with solubles mixed with either straw hay or corn residue can replace a portion of the grass needed for grazing for beef cows without affecting performance.
Klopfenstein told DTN there are two primary advantages to this type of feeding: it allows producers to keep cattle on pasture and it allows them to expand their herds without having to acquire more grassland.
He added that this type of feeding system is easier in farming areas than on rangeland because producers are more likely to have their own residue or have easier access to residue.
For details on the feeding trial, go to the 2012 Beef Cattle Report on the UN-L Beef website (http://bit.ly/…).
Anyone wanting more information is welcome to contact Dr. Terry Klopfenstein by phone at (402) 472-6443 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Cheryl Anderson can be reached at Cheryl.email@example.com.
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