Control feed losses and significant deterioration in beef production

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Control feed losses and significant deterioration in beef production

May 10, 2021

Extension of Iowa State University

Food spoilage and waste obviously costs money, but it can also have greater impacts on the health of livestock. Denise Schwab, Beef Specialist at Iowa State University Extension and Outreach, offers these reminders on the types, causes and effects of food loss and how to overcome possible challenges.

Storage and power losses

Hay storage losses for large round bales stored on the ground and uncovered varied from 5 to 61%, while bales stored on a well-drained base and covered with plastic or tarpaulin were only 2 to 17% (UW Saxony, 2007).

Feeding style also has an impact on losses. A study from Michigan showed that ring feeders with a raised central cone resulted in a 3.5% feed loss, while stationary cradle feeders had 14.6% feed loss. However, ground feeding without any feeders typically ranges between 20-30% loss. Beef cattle on corn.

Holmes and Muck from Wisconsin compared various losses in silage, taking into account fill, seepage, gas, area and feed losses. Oxygen limiting towers and silage bags showed the lowest losses in the 6-13% or 9-17% ranges. Chimneys or uncovered bunkers were the highest with losses in the range of 34-58% and 24-43%, both having the highest gas and surface losses.

Also noted, the feed loss is 3-5% with good management on concrete floors, but 8-20% with earthen soil and good face management. With less than good management, we can expect an additional 7% loss.

Storage and feed losses add to the increased feed costs for the cow herd. For a cow supplied 40 pounds of hay at $ 120 per tonne, with 10% waste, that equates to $ 7.20 per cow per month in feed loss. For $ 45 per tonne of silage, a 10% feed loss at 50 pounds of silage consumption equals $ 3.37 per cow per month in feed loss.

Garbage in the mud

The effect of the mud on the cow’s energy needs is obvious, but the muddy conditions also directly impact feed losses in both the feed storage area and the animal feeding area. .

The sludge often includes manure, leading to a vector of diseases such as Clostridium perfringens (Clostridium). Contamination will result in immediate refusal of food. Contaminated feed is also a concern for curious calves.

Storage location is important for several reasons: ease of storage, ease of feeding, and reduction of mud and soil contamination. The best silage and hay storage option is on concrete to reduce problems with harvesting as well as feeding.

When concrete slabs aren’t an option, choose a high, dry site, and consider adding rock or limestone to create a more solid base that also has good drainage. Avoid low areas that lead to muddy mess when distributing silage or forage.

Foods in contact with wet or muddy conditions deteriorate, resulting in loss of food quality and quantity. Sludge also increases the ash content of the forage, and in particular the iron content, of soil contaminated foods.

Feeding places

Carefully consider feeding locations to reduce food waste and contamination. While winter feeding of hay or silage on frozen ground can work for many growers, an alternative is needed when the ground is not frozen.

Bunks or tires work well, but a solid base underneath is needed both for the equipment to distribute feed and for the cows to access the feed trough. Under freezing conditions some of the leftover food can still be eaten by the cow, but in muddy conditions any leftover food is wasted.

Adequate bunk space for all cows is also important to reduce the amount of feed waste due to feed access aggression.

Mud / iron issues

Food contaminated with soil, whether during harvesting or during feeding, leads to an increase in ash content. While the level of ash alone is not critical, it is an indicator of increased levels of iron and other minerals. The average ash content of forages is normally 4-5% in corn silage, 6-7% in corn stalks, 6-8% in grasses and 8-10% in legumes.

Forages damaged by inclement weather are generally richer in ash from contact with the soil during harvest. Drought, flooding and the recent derecho can all increase the ash content of 2020 forages. Harvesting practices such as low cutting height, poor rake adjustment and mergers can also increase soil contamination on the crops. fodder. Hay stored on wet or muddy soil, silage stacked directly on the ground, and muddy feeding conditions also increase soil contamination.

When high levels of ash are found in forages, the minerals compete with other minerals for uptake by the cow. The soil is often rich in iron, which results in decreased absorption of manganese.

Since manganese is important in the development of bone and cartilage in the fetus, a manganese deficiency can lead to an increased risk of chondrodysplasia, a birth defect. In many herds in Iowa, potentially iron-rich foods, such as soil-contaminated corn silage, are administered at the highest concentrations during the third trimester of gestation in cows calving in the spring.

It is also a time when producers are not as consistent with the delivery of minerals. Stephanie Hansen, professor of animal science and bovine nutritionist at Iowa State University, discusses how soil-contaminated silage can lead to birth defects caused by manganese deficiency in the December 2020 Growing Beef newsletter.

Cattle producers who have a calf born with symptoms of chondrodysplasia such as a dwarf appearance, shortened bone growth, or a protruding lower jaw due to undeveloped nasal cartilage, should work with their veterinarian to determine the cause.

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