August 13, 2003 | By: Laura Skillman
BOWLING GREEN, Ky.

As the time for weaning spring calves approaches, feed byproducts such as soyhulls can play a key role in the diet of weaned calves as well as cows to be bred.

Feed byproducts especially can work well where farmers are utilizing forages as a major component of the cattle’s diet, said Roy Burris, a beef cattle specialist with the University of Kentucky Cooperative Extension Service.

“The concept used in Kentucky is to get maximum use of the forage and then supplement beyond that,” he said.

High fiber byproduct feeds such as soyhulls and corn gluten feed are highly palatable and less likely to cause acidosis and foundering than grains, he said. Feed costs should also be less than complete feed rations.

Trials at UK in recent years involving 283 weaned calves showed that calves can make rapid and efficient gains during short postweaning feeding periods, and soyhulls and corn gluten feed worked better than the other alternative feeds used in these studies.

Protein levels, particularly in soyhulls, need to be checked regularly to ensure they are sufficient for growing calves, Burris said.

For a producer with thin cattle or two-year-olds where rebreeding may be a problem, Burris said feeding with a byproduct that contains fat such as Mix30 or whole soybeans can improve breeding success.

“Before you get a response in reproduction you’ve got to have a problem,” he said.

In a 2002 trial, body condition and pregnancy rates increased on a group of cattle getting the Mix30 byproduct feed compared to cattle receiving corn/soybean meal feed.

“There are several byproducts feeds that can be used successfully in beef feeding programs,” Burris said. “One consideration is can we get a cheaper ration, but more importantly is can we get better performance?”

Contact: 

Writer: Laura Skillman 270-365-7541 ext. 278
Source: Roy Burris, 270-365-7541 ext. 208