Summer Supplementation

   Hot fescue, hot temperatures and high humidity all combine to limit summertime gains on stocker steers and can cause a reduction in pregnancy rates in heifers and cows. Additionally, bulls often experience fertility and libido problems as the summer progresses.
   Adding some feed to your cattle’s diet in these stressful situations almost always ends up as a win-win deal. The amount and type of feed is subject to debate sometimes but the Southeast Kansas Field Day this spring revealed the results of a five year study that involved feeding 500 pound steers during the nearly 200-day grazing period on hot fescue or on low endophyte or novel fescue.
   The greatest gain response, 97 percent, was seen on the high endophyte fescue with steers fed 0.8 percent of their body weight in distillers grains throughout the trial. Steers on the novel fescues or the low-endophyte varieties still showed a 30 to 40 percent boost in gains due to the distillers. The distillers supplemented steers averaged 2.25 pounds daily gain while non-supplemented cattle posted 1.51 pounds per day gain.
   The non-supplemented steers required 1.25 acres per steer compared to 1 acre per steer rate for supplemented groups.
   Remember, the better the quality of pasture or forage, the lower the response will be to supplement. It’s also worth your time to check out the cost and trouble of including an ionophore in your supplement. ∆
   ELDON COLE: Extension Livestock Specialist, University of Missouri

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