3 Tips to Starting Cattle Projects on the Feed

The crisp feeling in the air, calendars flipped to September and kids back in school are good indicators of shopping for your next show calf projects. It doesn’t matter if it’s your first calf or not, each project starts with anticipation of a new show season and a set of new goals and shows to attend. Before you get too far along though, you’ve got to take care of a few matters of importance. First on the list is getting them on a good nutrition program and on the right feed regimen. 

f you are excited and stressed, just think about your new heifer or steer and how it feels. It is likely a little nervous too and perhaps stressed about changing environments, going on new feed and being around new people. Remember to transition your calf slowly to its new surroundings. This might mean slowly introducing it to a grain mix while always providing it with fresh water and hay.  

“The first priority with your new calf should be to keep its gut healthy, and a healthy gut starts with a healthy rumen function,” said Blaine Rodgers, BioZyme® Inc. Western U.S. ASM and Show Livestock Manager.  

To ensure the rumen stays healthy, make sure you are providing your new project ample high-quality roughage like hay or plenty of grass to graze during the day. In addition, providing fresh, clean cold water is a must. There are also three considerations Rodgers said to make when deciding on your feed ration. 

Know Your Animal’s Purpose  

Feeding a market project is entirely different from feeding a breeding heifer project, and you will need to make sure you are getting your animal on the ration that is right for it. If it is a breeding heifer, Rodgers said it is important to provide a high fiber, low energy diet that’s slightly higher in protein to keep them fresher in their condition while growing, yet still maintaining body. 

With steers, be sure to know your endpoint and understand their maturity pattern, but even this early in the project you are likely to just focus on getting them on a ration to get to get them growing. Feeding steers greatly depends on frame size and condition. Smaller framed steers that are fatter need to be put on a grower ration. Steers that are larger framed or skinny and need to catch up can be put directly on a finishing ration.  

Start slow, Rodgers advised, and this time of year as the temperatures fluctuate greatly from day to night, put your primary focus on keeping them healthy, getting them started on feed and keeping them eating in their new environment. 

Get into a Routine 

As with any transition, it is important to get into a routine with your new livestock projects. Feed your animals as close to 12 hours apart as possible, in the same place. If that means you feed them in a feed bunk before you leave for school and a feed pan in the barn, after school, then they are getting acclimated to both systems. Be sure to check their water during their feedings and have someone check their water throughout the day. 

Another routine you will want to follow, especially during some of these hotter days, is to check their health. Make sure if your animals are outside, they have shade available to them, especially during the hottest parts of the day from noon to late afternoon. If your animals are tied or penned inside during the day, make sure they have fans on them to stay cool.  

Give them Nutrition, Health they Need 

Perhaps one of the most important things you can do to get your new animals settled, get them eating and keep them on feed is to provide them with supplements to help keep their appetite in check. A Vita Charge® Stress Tub is a convenient way to support digestive health and promote feed and water intake during times of stress and recovery. The Vita Charge Stress Tubs contain Amaferm®, is a prebiotic designed to enhance digestibility by amplifying the nutrient supply for maximum performance. It is research-proven to increase intake, digestion and absorption. 

In addition, Rogers recommends feeding a ration that includes Amaferm either through top dressing Sure Champ®, feeding one that is formulated with it in it, or through creating a ration with Sure Champ Ration Builder, which provides the Amaferm advantage of increased intake, digestibility and absorption, while also including a vitamin and mineral package. 

Finally, Rodgers reminds that nutrition and health go hand-in-hand, and to make sure that all calves brought onto your place are regularly given a dewormer for parasite control and to make sure that all other vaccines are current.  

“Keeping them healthy and keeping them on feed should be the main focus right now as you are bringing your new animals home. Focus on keeping their rumen right and check their health at least twice a day while it is so drastically hot,” Rodgers said. 

This is an exciting time of year. Don’t add to the stress for you or your new show heifer or steer project. Get them on the feed they need to grow and excel. Keep them gaining and keep them healthy, It’s the first step to take as you #preptowin with your new animals. 

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