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Beef Today: Cattle Nutrition

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Ruminant nutritionists provide information on beef cattle nutrition-related topics.

Readers Ask about Feed Ingredient Options

Sep 20, 2010
Ki Fanning,
Ruminant Nutritionist

Reader asks:

I have been approached about feeding apple cider vinegar to cattle on late summer pasture in west central SD. We had a decent year with good growth, but it got hot and dry lately. Do you have any experience feeding this product?

Ki's response:

Apple cider vinegar would mainly be comprised of acetic acid which is one of the main volatile fatty acids (VFAs) produced by rumen bacteria.  VFA’s are the energy source that ruminants live on compared with monogastrics using glucose.  Therefore, the two major concerns should be palatability and then over consumption causing acidosis (founder).  There has been very little research done feeding this product so my suggestion is to start with small amounts and increase slowly, just like you would introduce corn to a ruminant. 

Reader asks:

Do you have a ration for free choice and TMR's, incorporating the liquid corn syrup? We have been getting this for several years now and putting it in our corn silage ration and tub grinding it in with the feeder wagon. We also free-choice in tubs this all seems to work well. Another friend mixes Whey 50/50 corn syrup and free-choice.  Do you have any recommendations to this style feeding?

Ki's response:

We use corn syrup (distillers soluble) in many different feedlots, cow/calf, and backgrounding operations.  Usually it is a very good buy (delivered for less than $30/ton) so we use it as often as possible.  The advantages of it are palatability on calves and cow, it is a great source of protein, fat and energy, and for cow herds it is high in phosphorus so you can save money on a range mineral.  The disadvantages are:  it is high in fat and palatable so if it is free choice the cattle may over eat causing the rumen bugs to be killed off from too much fat resulting in reductions of fiber digestion, and it is high in sulfur which could cause polio (brainers) problems.  Whey is also a good product if it is bought right.  It does not contain the amount of fat, protein or energy that the syrup does but can be a good feed source. 

Any time that you control what the cattle eat your performance is better, same as your kids, do not expect them to balance their own diet.  If you have to free-choice it, you should monitor intakes closely and only put out a limited supply.  We can add a limiter to it but it obviously adds cost.

-Dr. Ki Fanning is a ruminant nutritionist at Great Plains Livestock Consulting, Inc. The consulting service was founded in 1998 by Dr. Ki Fanning with the goal of becoming the premier animal agricultural consulting company for feed manufacturers, producers, and entities engaged in the areas of livestock production, with the reputation of the highest integrity and quality of service.

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