This summer has been an odd one for many regions; unusually cool in the upper Midwest, unusually wet across the Southeast. Not that anyone I know will complain about the rain, but it does throw a wrench in the hay making works.
A current buzz word in Agriculture is Precision. In crop farming it is a way to highlight the fact a new technology is being applied to a process; such as satellite linked Precision Planting and Precision Crop Nutrient Management. In animal nutrition, we also like to look for the newest thing or magic bullet. I am all for innovation and staying current with technology, but some proven methods should not be overlooked in the zeal to be new. This Precision Nutrient Delivery phrase may help some people understand and accept how low moisture block self-fed supplements like Brigade® and several of the Dairy CRYSTALYX® formulas such as Dry Cow™ Formula, Close-Up™ Formula and Transition Stress™ Formula work; even with modern ration balancing technologies.
In many parts of the US pasture growth has begun to slow down while plants are maturing resulting in higher fiber and lower nutrient delivery to the cow herd. For spring calving herds this is when creep feeding becomes important for maintaining calf gains especially if forage availability and quality become limiting. With calf values as high as they are, it would be difficult for producers not to look at ways that focus on optimizing calf growth rates prior to weaning. But what about the cows? Most of the cow herd would be bred by now for herds calving in the spring. Cows are focusing on gaining weight/condition for the winter months, while nursing this year’s calf and providing a uterine environment that will lay the ground work for a healthy, growth calf in 2014.
I get the above question a lot, and it’s usually followed up or preceded by, “okay, what should I supplement or what would you recommend.” The question actually leads to more questions, and is also a good reason to evaluate why we supplement our cattle and what are the benefits.