Precision Feeding Heifers Can Save 5¢/Head/Day

October 1, 2010 03:20 AM

With rising feed costs and ever tightening margins, every nickel counts. And you can precisely do that by adding ionophores to growing heifer rations while precision feeding energy.

Pat Hoffman, a dairy researcher with the University of Wisconsin, argues that since ionophores increase feed efficiency, they can be added to growing heifer diets while reducing energy (corn) in those diets. Adding 325 mg of an ionophore like Bovatec can replace 5% of dietary dry matter. By spending 3¢ for the ionophore, you can save 6¢ to 8¢ to even 10¢ per head per day in feed costs. On a 1,000 heifers, those savings add up quickly.

Feed efficiency, the pounds of feed required to produce a pound of gain, jumps astronomically as well. Heifers on control diets usually require 13 to 14 lb. of dry matter to produce a pound of gain. In Hoffman’s experiment with precision feeding at 80% of control plus ionophore, feed efficiency increased to just nine pounds of feed required per pound of gain.

Added benefit: When heifers eat less, they defecate less. When precision fed heifers are fed 80% of the dry matter of control heifers, they’ll produce 10 lb. less manure and urine per day. “That’s tons and tons less manure on 1,000 heifers,” Hoffman notes.

Also watch phosphorus levels in heifer diets. Heifers fed unsupplemented P diets were still getting 0.28% of the mineral in another Hoffman trial. Supplemented heifers get in the range of 0.38%. But Hoffman found no differences in growth, bone density or reproduction by supplementation. “Gram for gram, the extra phosphorus ended up in the manure,” he says. 

Hoffman gave his presentation here at World Dairy Expo Thursday in a presentation sponsored by Alpharma.


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