Summer is here! I don't think that's news to anyone but perhaps we need a reminder about some things that go along with summer. Grass quality generally declines and cattle performance begins to wane. On stocker cattle and calves on cows, gains begin to taper off. Cows usually produce less milk and may lose body condition. In most cases, it is not practical or economically feasible to supplement cows during the summer.
Calf gains can be enhanced by offering a salt limit-high protein creep that is designed to be consumed at a rate of a pound per calf daily. This protein supplement can be offered daily or less frequently in a limited fashion. The supplement should be an all natural protein supplement that is at least 35% crude protein.
The protein source should be palatable to calves and contain 100 milligrams per pound of an ionophore. Research work at Oklahoma State University has demonstrated that this feeding program (OK Silver) has increased calf gains about 0.4 pounds per day with a conversion rate of about 2.5 to 1.
Stocker cattle also benefit from a high protein supplement containing an ionophore. The feeding of 1.0 to 1.5 pounds per head daily of 38% crude protein feed (with 100-200 milligrams of an ionophore per head daily) will help maintain gains.
One misuse of this program is that people tend to think that because they are supplementing cattle, they do not need an adequate amount of grass. The protein supplement is to elevate the quality of the diet not replace quantity. The protein simply replaces the protein that is lacking in the grass. The cattle still need enough grass to fill daily. Protein feeding is not a replacement for grass but a supplement to grass.
Don't miss the Southern Plains Beef Symposium at Ardmore's Hardy Murphy Coliseum on August 9th. This is a really good program that is well worth your time to attend!