Balancing your rations for your show livestock projects takes practice and a knowledge of what feedstuffs impact the animals in different ways. You want your calf, lamb, goat or pig to grow, develop lean muscle shape and stay structurally sound all while staying on feed from the time you get your project until they reach their final end-point.
All livestock need a delicate balance of energy, protein, vitamins and minerals; ruminants need good-quality forage to assist in digestion. Energy is typically found in concentrate form like corn and other cereal grains. Providing adequate energy is necessary for growth and development of your animal, while protein is responsible for creating lean muscle mass.
Typically, you will feed corn as your high-energy source that can be easily metabolized. However, there are just a few times when you might need to supplement with fat to get a quicker response than with usual concentrates.
For beef cattle, you might need to provide fat supplementation if you have a harder-doing animal that is getting close to its end-point, and still needs to lay some condition on.
However, when increasing energy through fat supplementation, heed caution. There is a fine-line to walk when feeding fat, and you don’t want to overfeed. Ideally, a fat supplement should never be more than 5-6% of the ration because the fat can shut down fiber digestion in the rumen. Too much fat encapsulates the rumen bacteria, and they are unable to do their job of keeping the good bugs in check.
If you do need to increase energy in your show calf diet using fat, incorporate Amaferm® in to the diet to help stimulate fungal growth, and be sure to continue to feed plenty of forage. Amaferm is a precision prebiotic designed to enhance digestibility by amplifying the nutrient supply within for maximum performance, and it is the key ingredient in all products from BioZyme® Inc., including the Sure Champ®, Vita Charge® and VitaFerm® lines. Another thing you might want to consider is adding more carbohydrates to the diet, instead of using fat.
With your show pig project, you might choose to supplement with fat if you have an animal that is getting close to ideal show weight, but you want to suppress its appetite or “hold” it for a short time. You might also supplement with fat if you have a pig that is not quite finished as the end-point is nearing and you need to increase fat cover as they get close to market weight. The fat will suppress intake while maintaining energy levels in your pigs, keeping them content. But just like the cattle, be careful not to supplement with too much fat, or you risk your pigs going off feed as well. The fat will also go on more quickly than feed, so be cautious about how much you use on your pig in a short amount of time.
Using fat as an energy source for your show livestock can be done and will most likely happen if you show pigs. Just remember, to keep your animals eating and keep them on track with a product that promotes appetite and digestive health like Sure Champ®.