As we enter what is hopefully the final days of cold
weather and look forward to warm temperatures and green grass, it is a
good time to evaluate the body condition scores of your cattle to
determine if extra supplementation will be needed to prepare your brood
cow herd for calving and breed back time. University studies all agree
there is a direct correlation between body condition scores and
reproductive performance of your cow herd.
this in mind, I have always encouraged producers to take a feed and
forage sample to determine the approximate nutritional value of the
feeds being provided to their cattle. With higher feed prices and less
than normal hay crops, I would again encourage doing an analysis on the
feed being provided to your cow herd. Armed with this information, you
can better determine the feeding needs of your cows to get them in
adequate body condition coming out of winter.
reason to have this information is to allow the producer to make better
decisions when purchasing ingredients and feed by-products. With
increased feed prices, a number of lower priced by-products are being
made available to producers. The only way to determine if any of the
products are of any value to you is to have an analysis completed on
your current feed and incorporate the information into your feeding
I am often asked are: What information should be asked for in an
analysis and what does this information mean when I receive it? Most all
laboratories performing forage analysis usually have a standard package
that will provide most of the information beef cattle producers need.
The standard analysis will provide protein levels, energy measurements,
mineral levels, vitamin levels, fiber levels and moisture.
most of these results are straight forward, the different measurements
of energy are a little more complicated and harder to understand. The
need to understand energy levels is even more important because energy
is the most limited nutrient in beef cattle diets and exceeding energy
requirements is what will increase body condition scores in your brood
laboratories will report the following information as ways to determine
the overall energy value of a feed: total digestible nutrients (TDN),
fat, net energy of gain, maintenance and lactation, nitrogen free
extract (NFE) and carbohydrates. Let’s look at each of these values
and what this information means to you, the producer.
is the value most often used by producers when determining the energy
value of a feed. It is determined by the summation of the digestible
protein, digestible nitrogen free extract, digestible crude fiber and
digestible fat times 2.25. (Fat has 2.25 times more energy than
carbohydrates; therefore, the reason for multiplying fat times 2.25% in
the formula.) While TDN is a very crude measurement for energy, it is a
good way to make an initial determination on the overall quality of
feed. A good feed will be at least 65% TDN while a good forage should be
close to 50% TDN.
biggest area of concern in some analysis is it does not take into
consideration the digestibility of the fiber and will underestimate TDN
on highly digestible fiber by-products like gin trash and peanut