Effects of frequency of protein supplementation on performance by beef calves grazing dormant native range

TitleEffects of frequency of protein supplementation on performance by beef calves grazing dormant native range
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2018
AuthorsPreedy, GW, Jaeger, JR, Waggoner, JW, Olson, KC
JournalKansas Agricultural Experiment Station Research Reports
Accession NumberKNZ001917
Keywordsbeef calves, pasture, protein, supplementation frequency

Stocker calves that graze forages before entering a feedlot account for more than 75% of the beef calves raisedin the United States each year. A large proportion of those will be calves born in the spring and weaned in thefall. Modest growth rates are expected when the quality of fall and winter forages is poor. Growing calves inconfinement systems during fall and winter typically allows for greater average daily gain (ADG) than grazinglow-quality forages; however, modest overall costs associated with grazing perennial, dormant forages may becompetitive during times when feed prices are relatively high.Providing supplemental protein to beef cows grazing dormant, warm-season, native forages (i.e., = 6% crudeprotein [CP]) has been demonstrated to increase body condition score (BCS), body weight (BW), improvedry matter digestibility (DMD), and forage dry matter intake (DMI). Furthermore, beef cows grazing lowqualityforages and supplemented with protein either daily, every third day, or every sixth day had similar BWand BCS.Reducing the frequency of supplement delivery can reduce labor costs and equipment depreciation withoutnegatively affecting animal performance; however, this practice has variable success when used with growingbeef cattle. In previous research, steers supplemented with cottonseed cake 3 times weekly had similar BWgain during winter compared to steers supplemented daily. Conversely, in another study, steers grazing winterrange and supplemented with dried distillers grain daily had greater ADG than steers supplemented 3 timesweekly. Therefore, the objective of this study was to evaluate the performance of young, lightweight stockercalves grazing dormant, native tallgrass pastures and supplemented protein either daily or 3 times weeklythroughout the winter.