Cattle Nutrition: Readers Ask about Feed Ingredient Options

October 20, 2010 04:59 AM

Ki Fanning
Ki Fanning
Q I have been approached about feeding apple cider vinegar to cattle on late summer pasture in west central South Dakota. We had a decent year with good growth, but the weather has been hot and dry lately. Do you have any experience feeding this product?

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

Q We have been getting liquid corn syrup 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 for us, but a friend mixes whey 50/50 with corn syrup and free-choice. Do you have any recommendations for this style of feeding?

A We use corn syrup (distillers’ soluble) in many different feedlot, cow–calf and background operations. Usually it is a very good buy (delivered for less than $30 per ton), so we use it as often as possible.

The advantages are its palatability to calves and cows; it is a great source of protein, fat and energy; and for cowherds it is high in phosphorus, so you can save money on a range mineral. The disadvantages are that it is high in fat and palatable—if it is free-choice, cattle may overeat, causing the rumen bugs to be killed off from too much fat and resulting in reductions of fiber digestion. Distillers’ soluble is high in sulfur, which can cause polio problems in cattle. Whey is also a good product if it is bought right. It does not contain the amount of fat, protein and energy that the syrup does, but it can be a good feed source.

Any time you control what cattle eat, performance is better. You would not expect your kids to balance their own diet, and you should not expect your cattle to balance their own diet either. If you need to offer free-choice, monitor intakes closely and put out only a limited supply. If you add a limiter to it, that will obviously add cost.

Q During a wet harvest, we put up some high-moisture corn that has turned moldy. Can the moldy corn be used for cattle feed with mycotoxins?

A If the corn must be used for feed, please consider these suggestions. If it is going to be
ensiled, use an inoculant, pack well and cover the pile. Do everything possible to promote fermentation. Feed a toxin binder, flow agent or conditioner (call your nutritionist for more information on this).

Monitor dry matter intake, as many of these toxins will reduce intake slightly. The incidence of bullers may increase due to the presence of estrogenic compounds or a reduced intake of melengestrol acetate (MGA). It is very important to test for the level of mycotoxins in the feed. Blend the feed with other unaffected feeds to lower the dietary level of mycotoxins.

You can read more information about mycotoxins in grain online at Click on “View the Current Issue” and select the Cattle Nutrition column.

Ki Fanning is a ruminant nutritionist at Great Plains Livestock Consulting, Inc. He founded the consulting service in 1998 with the goal of becoming the premier animal agricultural consulting company for feed manufacturers, producers and entities engaged in livestock production.

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