James Grothe, Dairy Beef Specialist
As the warm and humid days of summer approach, we need to pay close attention to corn and pellet diets. Because of the method, these are usually fed in a self-feeder. We need to monitor that everything for the steer is proper due to the heat adding additional opportunity for stress to change behaviors. The water and feed needs to be clean, fresh and of the best quality. To do this, we have a set of guidelines to follow:
- Flush the mixer and delivery trucks prior to using for handling corn and pellet mixes. Fines could cause cattle to vary intakes resulting in bloat and/or other issues. Use whole corn or a flush pellet prior to putting feeds into the mixer, leg or truck.
- During the summer months, mix only what will be fed up in two weeks or less. Fresh feed is important for good intakes. The longer the pellets are mixed, the more opportunity for the feed to attract moisture and soften.
- Store Kent Dairy Beef pellets in an enclosed bin and not an open wagon for the same reason as #2.
- Monitor the temperature of the corn. The first corn taken out of a bin in spring/summer can be cooler than outside temperature by more than 20 degrees and begin to sweat, which will go to the pellets and soften them. Get feeders and bins completely cleaned out periodically; 2 times per year minimum, to reduce build-up of old feed.
- Always put corn in the mixer prior to putting pellets in. The corn will cushion the pellets. Also, keep mixing time to a minimum.
- Be consistent with the corn source; don’t change bins too often or rapidly. Screened corn is the best but any corn with little fines will work. Also, during the summer months, corn gets drier and breaks up easier which creates more fines. So a limited amount of handling of corn is best.
- Use equipment that is in good working condition. Worn out augers will grind causing feed to break up.
- Don’t get more than a month’s supply of Kent Dairy Beef pellets during hot humid weather.
- Monitor intakes to control major changes. With major changes comes digestive upsets and reduced performance. If having a lot of variance in intakes, determine possible causes and correct them. To help comfort cattle back to more consistency, use a Rumen Booster tub.
- Get cattle up daily and walk through to stimulate consistent intakes of feed and water. While walking the cattle that is a good time to clean self-feeders and waterers.
- Be consistent with bedding to not affect intakes too much by not bedding for a long period of time, then putting a bunch in there. Stay with the same type of bedding to keep variability’s to a minimum. Reduce frequency of bedding to once a week as minimum then lower the amount if dry and not needing as much bedding to keep the steers dry, comfortable and clean.
- Provide plenty of square footage per steer to prevent overcrowding and overheating. If shade is provided, make sure there is enough for all steers. Use fans to move air and cool steers if inside.
- Access to good, clean water is critical at all times, but especially during the summer heat. Check refill rates of waterers so that steers are waiting for water and reducing intakes of it.
- Always feed salt, preferably loose. Rumen Buff will also aid in improving intakes of feed and water as well so mixing some with salt or using a feedlot mineral is a very good idea.
- Be consistent with as much as possible during summer heat stress to reduce problems from arising. If changes are made, do them gradually over a period of time.
Work with your producers to prevent concerns or problems before they happen. If you have questions, contact your Sales Manager or myself before issues happen so we can have good summer!