Beef Buzz News
Stretching Feed for Your Mama Cow Herd This Winter
Mon, 17 Sep 2012 14:18:34 CDT
Ron Hays talks with Dr. Dale Blasi about ionophores for mama cows.
For years, cattle feedlot operators have taken advantage of the growth benefits from supplementing feed with ionophore products. One of those, Rumensin, is also cleared for feeding to the productive beef cow. A K-State beef cattle specialist says this is an excellent way to stretch limited forage supplies this fall and winter. Kansas State’s Dr. Dale Blasi reminds us how ionophores work.
“Basically, an ionophore is an antibiotic that works exclusively in the animal’s rumen environment. It basically removes, for lack of a better term, those bacteria that are not efficient and shuttles that energy, if you will, that is saved into those biproducts utilized by the animal in the most efficient manner. It’s those actions in there that allow the efficiency for the animal.”
And, upon being cleared for feeding to cows, one ionophore brand in particular proved to be effective in improving feed efficiency in the cow herd. Blasi said the makers of Rumensin went to considerable trouble and expense to have the FDA test and clear the product tested for lactating and gestating beef cows.
“In this case, the pivotal work that they did showed at the end of the day that there was, with comparable levels of performance, those cattle supplemented with Rumensin were able to do so with ten percent less feed.”
Blasi sees the inclusion of Rumensin in the cow diet as a practical management step. He cites other university work that backs that up.
“For the cost of about a penny a head per day, with a 100 mg per head per day allowance, there’s an incredible opportunity for producers to include Rumensin in their mineral supplements. Some Oklahoma State work, Dr. David Lalman from Stillwater, they conducted some work. And as I read through their news release, they utilized 200 mg per day and they were able to achieve an improvement of one-half body condition score as a consequence of including it in the ration. I would feel very comfortable with a 100 mg at a penny a day for year-round feeding. And I think that’s something our producers should consider regardless of drought or not. I think we’ll be able to get more out of our grass as well as that from our supplemental forages we provide to them during our feeding periods.”
Oklahoma State University has long advocated the use of an ionophore for stocker cattle, calling it the Oklahoma Gold Program. Click here for a summary of that research.
Researchers at the Noble Foundation have also tested the Gold Program with an emphasis on the differences between OSU’s use in stocker cattle, and Blasi’s recommendations for cow herd supplementation. They found producers using an ionophore for stocker cattle needed to provide unlimited forage while mama cows did not need as much forage to maintain their body condition. Click here for the Noble Foundation's results.
Rumensin is produced by Elanco. You can find more information on their product by clicking here.
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