Alberta Feedlot Management Guide: Nutrition and Management

Subscribe to our free E-Newsletter, "Agri-News" (formerly RTW This Week)Agri-News
This Week
 Section I, the Nutrition and Management section of the Alberta Feedlot Management Guide is made up of twenty six fact sheets providing information on multiple aspects of feeding, nutrition and growth management strategies for feedlot and backgrounding cattle. Topics covered focus on the most effective and cost efficient methods of utilizing feed to achieve optimum growth potential resulting in a high quality beef carcass. The fact sheets include content ranging from types of feed grown in Alberta and their processing, feed value and digestibility; the protein, energy and nutrient requirements of feedlot cattle; to feeding strategies, growth implants and bunk management strategies.

Characteristics of Common Feed Grains
A comparison of the feed value of corn, barley, wheat, rye, triticale and oats looking at differences in energy content, digestion and utilization. When prices for barley are high alternatives such as wheat or triticale can be used as the grain portion of finishing rations, though they are blended to moderate potential differences in performance and to minimize digestive problems. Increasing the forage content of the ration will allow higher inclusion rates of wheat, rye and triticale while minimizing digestive problems.

Processing Feed Grains
An examination of the improvement in digestibility and feed utilization caused by the processing of barley, corn, oats and wheat grain; and the relative economics of feeding these processed grains to cattle. Processing of feed grains allow them to be mixed with supplements and affects palatability, digestion and passage rates.

High Moisture Grain Production
An examination of the advantages of producing high moisture barley under certain agronomic conditions as a feed alternative, the difficulties associated with proper storage of High Moisture Barley (HMB) and the relative expense of including it in rations.

Tempered vs. Dry Barley for Feedlot Cattle
An assessment of the advantages of feeding tempered barley (where water is added to dry barley before rolling) compared to dry rolled barley to feedlot cattle. Also, a comparative list outlining conditions where feedlots will have a better or reduced chance of profiting from tempering barley rations.

Feeding Barley Grain – Effect of Bushel Weight
A look at the effect that the bushel weight of feed grain barley has on digestible energy and cattle performance in the feedlot. Because bushel weight is related to the amount of starch in barley grain affecting feed efficiency, and because processing is more difficult with lower bushel weight grains there should be consideration for discounting the barley economic value of low bushel weight grain.

Effect of Barley Grain Type on Feedlot Performance of Steers
A review of research in Alberta on the relationship of variety characteristics of eight barley cultivars and their feed value for cattle. Variables for barley variety and type were two row vs. six row, hulless vs. hulled and malting vs. feed type. Values measured were rate of barley dry matter degradation in the rumen; and total tract digestibility among varieties on dry matter intake, average daily gain and dry matter intake: gain ratios.

How to Make Barley Silage
A brief guide for the making of barley silage, showing the optimum conditions required for producing high quality silage comparing barley, oats and triticale. Factors to be considered are moisture-content at harvest, digestibility, temperature during the ensiling process and the exclusion of air from the forage mass.

Selecting Crops and Varieties for Silage
A discussion on the qualities to look for when selecting a barley variety for silage. Factors to consider are whole plant yield, lodging resistance and choice of variety or crop (triticale or corn) within a rotation to increase disease resistance.

Feeding Fats and Oils in Feedlot Diets
An analysis of the benefits of adding fats or oils to feedlot rations. Fats or oils can make up to 5% of the total dry matter and are of benefit in reducing the incidence of bloat. They can also be used as a high energy source and are effective in the control of dust in finely ground rations.

By-Products for Cattle Feeding
Some points to consider when using by-products as an alternate source of nutrients in cattle feeding programs. These include an inventory of current feed, palatability, reliability of supply and an assessment of total ration needs including moisture, protein, energy, calcium, phosphorus, vitamins, mineral needs and fibre levels.

Grain and Canola Screening Pellets for Feedlot Cattle
A review of studies testing the effectiveness of feeding grain and canola screening pellets to feedlot cattle. These pellets, as an alternative feed source are a cost effective source of energy and protein which can result in consistent rates of gain with inclusion rates of up to 50% of the rations.

Feed Intake in Feedlot Cattle
A discussion on the importance of monitoring Dry Matter Intake (DMI) and its usefulness as a performance predictor and troubleshooting tool. Two tables presenting variables that affect DMI are used as a benchmark to compare with regularly monitored DMI.

Types and Sources of Protein
A description of the types of protein that function as a source of nitrogen for beef cattle along with an analysis of the different kinds of protein sources (feed) and their effectiveness in fulfilling the nutritional requirements of cattle. An examination of the diet on a dry matter basis will reveal the necessity for protein or amino acid supplementation.

Protein Requirements of Feedlot Cattle
A look at metabolizable protein for beef cattle used as means of calculating optimum protein requirements for growth. The two categories of feed protein which together supply the amino acids absorbed in the gut of cattle are rumen degradable intake protein (DIP) which is the protein required to meet the requirements of rumen microorganisms; and rumen undegradable intake protein (UIP) which escapes the rumen to be absorbed by the small intestine. A set of tables showing the degradable and undegradable contents of common feeds, and the amount of feed protein needed to meet microbial and animal requirements can be used to estimate protein requirements for feedlot cattle.

Vitamins For Feedlot Cattle
A review of the vitamins necessary to maintain health in feedlot cattle as well as their functions and signs to watch for deficiencies. Dietary recommendations include vitamins A and E, and often vitamin D. Specific uses of vitamins include supplementing vitamins D and E for enhancing meat quality (shelf life and tenderness), and B vitamins for improving the performance and health of stressed cattle.

Trace Minerals for Backgrounding and Finishing Beef Cattle
An explanation of eight important trace minerals required for the successful maintenance and growth of feedlot and backgrounding cattle, along with their minimum requirements and suggested allowance. Some of these minerals are available naturally in feeds produced in Alberta; with others it is necessary to provide supplementation to maintain optimum health. Also discussed are the trace mineral concentrations for receiving diets for stressed calves.

Nutrition and Immunity of Feedlot Cattle
A discussion on the immune system of cattle and how immune responses can be affected by stress and the nutritional status of the animal. When a calf is moved into an unfamiliar environment, stress hormones are released and it very often refuses to eat, thus compromising its nutritional status and immune system and increasing the calf’s susceptibility to illness and infection. Recommendations are included for providing a palatable diet enriched with vitamins and trace minerals which will reduce the counterproductive effects of stress.

Feeding Lightweight Calves
A series of nutritional and management strategies to aid in the feeding of stressed light weight calves. These are defined as newly weaned calves of less than 450 lb. body weight being shipped to an unfamiliar feed yard. The starter rations for these calves should be palatable, and should have elevated concentrations of energy, protein, minerals and vitamins.

Managing Yearlings on Pasture
A discussion on ways to maximize the growth rates of yearlings put out on pasture. Gain is dependant on the type and quality of forage, and factors such as density of stocking and body type and condition of the cattle. The addition of protein or energy supplements and mineral supplementation can also add to an increased rate of gain.

Finishing Cull Cows
A set of strategies for finishing cull cows on feedlot diets in order to improve carcass composition and net return. The ability to gain is dependant on the age of the cow, body condition and time on feed. As feed is the largest component of the cost of gain in cull cows, it makes economic sense to finish cull cows when grain prices are low and slaughter cow prices are high.

Feeding Young Bulls for Beef Reproduction
A discussion on the advantages and problems encountered when feeding young bulls for beef production. Advantages include a faster growth rate, a higher dressing percent and higher lean meat content of the carcass. Problems encountered include aggressiveness and the need to establish a bunting order. A series of tips is provided for producers, feeders, truckers and packers to successfully manage young bulls from calving to slaughter.

Growth Implants for Beef Cattle
A discussion on the use of growth implants in feedlot and backgrounding cattle to increase average daily gains and improve feed efficiency. The increase in hormone levels produced by these implants causes the animal’s system to redirect feed energy toward muscle production and away from fat production, a process called anabolic effect. Included are suggestions for implanting technique and the timing of implants for maximum growth efficiency.

Growth Implant Strategies
A series of strategies to maximize the beneficial effects of growth implants on backgrounding and feedlot cattle. Care must be taken in the selection of type of implant and the timing to achieve optimum results. Consideration should be given to the type of feed the animal is on (pasture or grain), the phase of growth of the animal and any previous history of implants and detrimental effects of improper use such as behavioral problems and reduced marbling.

Growth Implants for Beef Cattle – Economic Implications
A look at the economics of using growth implants at different stages of growth in cattle raised on pasture and feedlot cattle. Results from several studies have shown that the improved performance resulting from the proper selection and timing of growth implants can provide an extra $7.00 to $10.00 for each dollar spent on the implant. Implants produce the most benefit when other factors such as deficiencies in energy or mineral are not limiting growth.

Using Frame Size to Predict Growth and Development
A discussion of the importance of frame size in beef cattle and its influence on feedlot performance and carcass composition. Frame size can be used as a tool for describing skeletal size within an age and is important for its relationship to the live weight at which an animal will reach a constant level of fatness. In Canada there are three frame sizes for feeder cattle recognized: large, medium and small. Each of these sizes shows different characteristics in the time required for fat deposition thus causing changes in the proportion of major carcass tissues (muscle, bone and fat) at the same chronological age.

Principles of Bunk Management
A comparison of three forms of feed delivery at the bunk with advantages and disadvantages of each form of management. The most common is ad libitum feeding (allowing unlimited access to feed) which is the simplest and safest form of bunk management. Limit feeding (programmed feeding) refers to delivering less feed than cattle would eat if offered feed ad libitum, but is can be more economical, reduces manure production and can improve feed efficiency. Slick bunk management (where intakes are regulated but not necessarily reduced) can result in improved feed efficiency, increased consistency in feeding behavior, reduced acidosis and enhanced eating behavior with more time between meals.
Share via
For more information about the content of this document, contact Stacey Tames.
This information published to the web on October 25, 2007.
Last Reviewed/Revised on August 17, 2011.