When stocker cattle arrive at their new home they are stressed from travel and most likely have not relaxed enough to properly eat or drink water for several days. That creates a negative energy balance, creating a health at risk. In the past, producers have offered those cattle large amounts of roughage to help. However, Dr. John Richeson, professor of beef cattle feedlot management at West Texas A&M, has new research that shows large amounts of roughage may not be the best way to help stressed cattle recover the quickest.
“We’re looking at different ways and different techniques and different types of rations to provide those cattle that may be a better alternative. And in a nutshell, that would be providing a much higher energy ration.”
Preliminary data from the research shows high-energy rations helped high-risk calves correct the negative energy balance quicker than a high-roughage ration.
“Cattle receiving the typical higher roughage receiving diet actually consumed a little more feed early and gained a little bit better very early, the first couple weeks from arrival. They’re filling their gut fill faster with that higher roughage diet and that translates to weight that quickly after arrival. But after the first couple of weeks, the dry matter intake equilibrates between the two rations that we evaluated, and the cattle on the higher energy finisher ration gained more, and they gained much, much, more efficiently.”
The higher energy ration, Richeson says, leads to a better feed cost of gain and overall cost of gain during the receiving period.
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