Much of the Noble Research Institute's service area has received needed precipitation and many stockmen have begun sowing winter annual pasture. Stocker calves will soon be on pasture and producers need to start thinking about health and nutrition options for the winter. Oklahoma State University researchers have developed a new supplementation strategy for stockers on cool-season annual pasture called Oklahoma Green Gold. The program borrows a part of the name, and hopefully success, from the popular Oklahoma Gold supplementation program.
Most producers with summer stocker cattle will recognize Oklahoma Gold as a 38 percent protein supplement for late-season use on warm-season perennial pasture. Protein in the supplement helps balance the low protein-to-energy ratio of late-season summer perennial grass. This supplementation, coupled with the ionophore Rumensin, can increase average daily gain (ADG) by 0.5 pound per day. Oklahoma Green Gold also increases ADG, but it is an energy supplement that helps to balance the high protein-to-energy ratio of cool-season annual pasture. Feeding Green Gold to stockers on wheat pasture helps the animals capture more of the protein that is already in the grass, thereby boosting ADG.
Several area feed manufacturers should soon offer a supplement that meets the requirements for the program. The feed will be 80 to 85 percent concentrate, such as corn, milo, wheat midds, or soybean hulls (see the table). Oklahoma Green Gold supplements will be small pellets that will contain 2.5 percent calcium, 1.0 percent phosphorus, 0.7 percent magnesium, copper at 60 parts per million and 1.0 percent salt. It will also contain 100 milligrams of monensin per pound. Dr. Gerald Horn (2001), OSU animal nutritionist, has shown that feeding two pounds per head daily, or four pounds per head every other day, increases the ADG of wheat-pasture stocker steers by 0.4 pound daily. The supplement conversion ratio is therefore about five-to-one. If the Green Gold supplement costs around $145 per ton in bulk, which it did around Sept. 1, the feed cost of gain for the program would be about $0.36 per pound of gain. However, the price of the supplement is subject to change and will not remain constant throughout the feeding season. The value of the stockers' gain averages $0.55 to $0.60 per pound, demonstrating that Green Gold has profit potential.
Besides the ADG advantage, Green Gold offers several other benefits to stocker producers. Including the mineral package in the feed supplement ensures more consistent consumption with less waste. In times of a bloat outbreak, the cattle will be used to consuming a feed regularly. This will make it much easier to use poloxalene (Bloat Guard) as a bloat treatment. There is also some evidence to suggest Rumensin may actually help prevent bloat in the first place. (Note: Rumensin and Bloat Guard may not be fed at the same time.) Feeding cattle always makes routine observation easier as well.
Here are some things to consider about the Green Gold program:
- Green Gold must be hand fed. Do not allow free access.
- Ensure that each animal is consuming feed at each feeding, which will require adequate bunk space (10 to 12 inches per head).
- Do not increase the stocking rate when feeding Green Gold.
- Consider purchasing all the feed you will need in the fall. Prices could easily increase $10 to $20 per ton in the winter.
- Do not allow horses access to any feed containing Rumensin.
Oklahoma Green Gold can make as large an impact on the economics of stocker production as the original Oklahoma Gold program. Don't ignore the opportunity to increase your bottom line.
Horn, G. 2001. Oklahoma Green Gold: Supplementation Program for Wheat Pasture Stocker Cattle. Proceedings of the Wheatland Stocker Conference, August 24, 2001, Enid, Oklahoma. Oklahoma Cooperative Extension Service.