When we formulate a dairy cow ration, there is the tendency to overformulate. If the hayalge is 24 % protein, we may only give it credit for 22% because we aren’t sure if all 24% is available. Then, if the bulk tank average is 80# we will balance for 90-95# of milk. The reason is that the range of production in a dairy herd is usually very wide and we need to be sure we are giving the early lactation cows all the groceries they need for high performance.
In a feedlot however, the performance between animals is not as wide. There is no need to overformulate for steers. That means there is no “wiggle room” for the mixing of the corn/Tend-R-Leen. We need to be right on for the most cost effective performance and of course to be sure we aren’t losing money due to overfeeding.
The Tend-R-Leen program calls for an 92%-8% corn:pellet mix from 650#-finish weight. If the mixture is 7% vs. 8%, the crude protein is 2.5% below the requirement level. According to the NRC tables, that could be up to .2# ADG loss of production. Equally important is that the minerals, vitamins, and medications will be lowered also. They can each have additional negative effects on performance.
If the mix is 9% vs. 8%, the additional feed using today’s cost is about $8.75 per steer from 700#-1350#.
Mixing accuracy is more important with younger animals. If you look at the chart you will notice that from 130# to 650#, each month the calf should have the corn pellet mix changed. If you bring in groups of calves and keep them together, that isn’t hard to do. However many growers have groups with a wide range of weights. One of the difficulties with a group that ranges from 400#-800# is, what mixing rate do you use?
An 8% pellet rate will be far below what the 400# calf needs and a 13% pellet rate that the 400# calf needs is very expensive to the 800# steers. If you can keep groups within a 200# weight difference, you will improve performance, reduce costs or both.
Stressed corn can be lower in protein than the Tend-R-Leen program has been designed for. If you think that the steers performance isn’t where it should be, consider sampling the corn for moisture and protein to see if the pellet rate needs to be increased.