Lancaster farming. (Lancaster, Pa., etc.) 1955-current, July 16, 1994, Image 22

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    incaster Farming,
Livestock Notes I
Effects Of Early Weaning
On Feedlot Performance
John W. Comerford
Assoc. Prof. Dairy & Animal
Swine Penn State
A research study from Oklaho
ma State University (Gill et al.)
has shown the effects of early
weaning on feedlot performance.
In this trial, calves were weaned:
■ at 3 1/2 months and shipped
directly to the feedlot;
■ at seven months and shipped
to the feedlot; *r
■ wintered in drylot and then
allowed to graze native range for
122 days before entering the
Slaughter ages were 13.1,14.5,
and 20.7 months of age for early
weaned, normally weaned, and
backgrounded steers, respectively.
All steers were slaughtered at
about .5 in rib fat.
The purpose of the study was to
examine how early-weaned calves
may differ from their
conventionally-weaned counter
parts during a finishing phase.
There are times when early wean
ing may be a beneficial practice
for the cow-calf producer, particu
larly when drought or other condi
tions prevent cow herd from
receiving adequate nutrition dur
ing late lactation.
The results of the Oklahoma
study are shown in the table
below. The early-weaned calves
had a lower average daily gain,
were lighter at slaughter, and were
fatter than the other groups. The
lay, July le,
authors indicate that it was harder
to visually determine fat thickness
in these cattle. However, with all
other costs considered, the early
weaned calves may have been
more profitable because of the
time when they were marketed.
This group was marketed in April,
which is historically a seasonal
high point in fed-cattle price. The
backgrounded steers were mark
eted in summer and fall.
A glaring omission from the
data is the health of the steers. One
of the major problems with feed
ing young calves is the higher
morbidity and mortality rates gen
erally found when feeding calves
compared to yearlings. At Penn
State, we plan to examine this
issue in a fall trial where we will
early wean calves, but leave them
on pasture for two months before
moving them to the feedlot This
will allow us to determine if the
stresses of weaning can be over
come with two additional months
on pasture, and how the early
weaned calves for production and
health early in the feedlot phase.
Coupling these results with the
Oklahoma study should give a
clearer picture of how to handle
the early-weaned calf.
Early weaned
Normal weaned
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Economics Of Supplemental
Feeding Of Beef Cattle
Steve Ford
Asst Prof, of Agricultural
Economics Penn State
Thanks to the state’s large food
processing industry, Pennsylvania
livestock producers can choose
from a wide variety of supplemen
tal feeds, such as bakery waste,
livestock byproducts, food waste,
and feed-grain byproducts. In
addition, many supplemental
feeds are transported like com
modity feeds, and are available to
Pennsylvania livestock producers.
Brewers and distillers grains,
wheat bran, cottonseed, and whole
grains are readily available from
feed suppliers.
Livestock producers need to
make informed economic deci
sions when purchasing any feed.
The primary consideration for any
producer should be how to get the
most gain for the least cost Con
sequently, feed purchase decisions
should be based both on animal
nutritional requirements and the
cost of meeting those
What does the feed cost?
Livestock producers are inter
ested in purchasing feed with
nutritional value. Of course, nutri
tional value varies from feed to
feed, even from load to load for
the same type of feed. Variation in
nutritional value is due partly to
the quality of different feeds, with
respect to a specific nutritional
Profit per
head ($)
component (e.g., protein). Other
variation comes from the different
moisture content in feeds. Produc
ers should purchase feed based on
dry matter content. Otherwise
they are buying high-priced water.
For example, two loads of com
are available at $lOO and $lO5 per
ton. The load selling for $lOO has
a dry matter content of 80 percent,
and the other tests at 90 percent
dry matter. If we price the com
based on dry matter content, the
load at 80 percent dry matter costs
$125 per ton of dry matter ($lOO
divided by .80). The other load
costs $116.67 per ton of dry mat
ter ($lO5 divided by .90). The
more expensive com turns out to
be cheaper of the two when priced
on the actual feed value per ton.
Producers should purchase
individual nutrients in the same
way buying per pound of nutri
ent, not per pound of product For
example, if a livestock producer is
interested in buying a protein
source, the feed alternatives
should be compared based on the
price of protein in each feed. Sup
pose there are two protein feed
alternatives, one at 20 percent pro
tein and one at 35 percent on a dry
matter basis. Both feeds contain
90 percent dry matter. The feed
with the lower protein content is
selling for $lBO per ton, while the
other sells for $220 per ton. Which
feed is the better deal? Both con
tain 1,800 pounds of dry matter
per ton of feed (2000 pounds x .9).
The first feed contains 360 pounds
of protein (1800 pounds x .2) or
$0.50 per pound of protein ($lBO
divided by 360 pounds). The sec
ond feed contains 630 pounds of
protein (1800 pounds x .35) or
$0.35 per pound of protein ($220
divided by 630 pounds). Once
again, the more expensive feed has
turned out to be a better buy.
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Although both of the above
examples indicate that the more
expensive feed is a better buy, that
is not always the case. Livestock
producers should evaluate all
alternatives themselves. They also
should remember that many feeds
have other nutritional components
in addition to protein. For exam
ple, price differences must also
consider energy, vitamin, and
mineral differences, as well as
toxicity levels and palatability.
The costs of storage also should
be included in supplemental feed
ing cost estimates. These include
not only the cost of the storage
structure, but also storage losses,
handling, and feed losses. A 3 to 7
percent storage loss is common on
livestock farms, although that will
vary somewhat depending on the
type of feed. Handling costs also
will vary across feeds and farms.
In general, bagged feeds will be
more expensive than the same
feeds sold in bulk, but the addi
tional cost of bagging may or may
not offset the costs of handling
and storing bulk feeds, depending
on the farm situation. The use of
some supplemental feeds may
require on-farm grinding and mix
ing. Costs for equipment and labor
can be substantial. Finally, feed
ing losses will also vary across
feeds. Palatability and feeding
systems will determine the extent
of feeding loss. Again, a 2 to 8
percent feeding loss is not uncom
mon. When all the storage and
feeding losses are accounted for,
the actual cost of the feed fed to
cattle may increase 10 percent or
What supplemental feeds
are economical?
The best buys for supplemental
feeds vary with a number of fac
tors. First, supplemental feeding
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