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Working Ranch - March 2016

ommends allowing another 1 ½ feet of bunk space for each calf. She notes that calves may start sampling feed at two weeks of age. By two months of age, most calves will be eating feed. At three months, a calf may consume an amount equal to one percent of its body weight daily. “There is a misconception that young, nursing calves don’t consume much water, but milk consumption alone is not sufficient for rumen development 88 | WORKING RANCH | MARCH 2016 out limiting nutrition. The beauty of many energy-dense byproduct feed ingredients is the ability to mix them with low quality forages, such as hay, straw or baled corn stalks, and prepare a ration to meet animal requirements. It matters little what the ingredients are, as long as they can be used to create a balanced diet. “Producers do need to have their feed ingredients tested by a commercial laboratory, to determine nutrient content,” emphasizes Jenkins. “Be aware that nutrient requirements of cattle change with stages of production and reproduction, so the diet must be manipulated by adjusting ingredients or the amount of ration fed,” says Jenkins, adding that feed consumption by calves also should be considered. Jenkins warns that when testing byproduct ingredients that are high in digestible fiber, the chemical analysis used by most laboratories may result in energy values (typically expressed as percent total digestible nutrients or TDN) that are lower than actual energy available to the animals. Therefore, she suggests using values from University feeding trials that are based on animal performance. Managing cows in confinement may provide a means of expanding a family operation to accommodate a next-generation family member. It could be a way for a beginning producer with a limited land base to become better established. It might even facilitate implementation of technology, since implementation of estrus synchronization and artificial insemination might be more easily managed while cows are confined. Jenkins admits, though, that managing cows in confinement probably is not for everyone. “It depends on where you are – your location and resources. Every producer’s situation is unique,” Jenkins states. “Even producers that do adopt cow confinement need to remember that costs change over time. They need to re-evaluate what they’re doing, periodically, and make sure it still makes sense.” University of Nebraska Cow-Calf and Range Specialist Karla Jenkins checks out a pen of cows and calves involved in the confined feeding study. DAVE OSTDIEK, UNL in young animals. Calves need easy access to water as well as feed,” Jenkins adds. “Providing creep feed for calves may be worth consideration.” Managing nutrition is key to feeding cows in confinement and Jenkins strongly recommends limit-feeding cows an energy-dense diet. Feeding cows all they will eat is not economical so producers need to remember that they can limit dry-matter intake with


Working Ranch - March 2016
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