When transitioning cattle from ranch to rail, feed intake of a nutrient-dense diet is of utmost importance. Research indicates only 20 percent of cattle will eat on the day of arrival to the feedyard and by day five, only two-thirds are eating a sufficient ration from the bunk.
“Shipping stress, the health and nutritional status of the calf, unfamiliar surroundings and foreign feedstuffs are all factors that can take away a new feeder’s appetite. Subsequent poor intake during the starting phase can and will lead to morbidity and poor performance in the feedyard,” said Dr. Vaughn Holder, Alltech beef specialist.
According to Holder, there are many factors to focus on when starting cattle on feed, such as the cattle themselves, the feedstuffs utilized in the ration and the facilities in which cattle are placed. It is also imperative to know as much about the history of the cattle as possible. Records should include the health status of the calf (vaccinations, implants, etc.), origin, nutrient status of the herd and whether a preconditioning program was used.
Once placed in the feedyard, Holder suggests providing dry feedstuffs, such as long hay, to encourage calves to come to the bunk and eat.
“The ration can be transitioned gradually to allow for the use of unfamiliar feedstuffs as calves become acclimated to their new environment,” Holder said. “Dry matter intake expectations will vary depending on the ingredient content of the ration and quality of the forage supply.”
Alltech recently launched a new additive specifically designed for transitioning cattle to feedlot rations. A solution from the Alltech Gut Health Management program, Select TC promotes good bacteria and builds natural defenses. The technology also supports the efficient transfer of nutrients and can be used to reduce risk and improve herd safety.
One of the services included with the Gut Health Management program is Alltech’s 37+®, the most advanced mycotoxin analysis available, which detects up to 38 different mycotoxins at ppb and ppt levels. The 37+ program’s feed analysis and risk assessment is also coupled with an on-site audit evaluating feed storage, and operational logistics based on HAACP principles, providing the herd manager with access to a powerful tool to deal proactively rather than reactively with the health and productivity of the operation.
“Many times on the feedlot it is not an acute case that can be readily identified, but a chronic situation associated with the ingestion of a low level of mycotoxins over an extended period of time,” Holder said. “This results in a wide array of subclinical symptoms that slowly reduce performance, eat away at the producer’s bottom line and compromise animal health.”