Feeding Cattle

One of the jobs I have really grown to like doing on the farm is feeding cattle.  This is generally my husband’s job, but I try to fill in for him a few times a week to allow him to get other things done around the farm.

This calf will be sold for meat in the next two weeks

The cattle will come to the feedlot when they weigh any where from 400 to 600 lbs.   They get a lot of TLC for the first 30 days.  Their feed rations are mixed specifically for their nutritional needs,  to help them over come the stress of coming to the feedlot.  They get special minerals, medications, and ratios of protein vs. energy. We will walk through the yards daily to check for illness and sort off calves that need additional care.

Distillers grain, a by-product of ethanol, is fed to our cattle.

Gradually over the 9 months they are in the feedlot, their feed rations will contain more energy and less protein, to help them finish out and become delicious steaks and burgers.  A cattle ration contains specific amount of ingredients.  Right now our cattle get a combination of distillers grains (a by-product of ethanol), earlage (chopped ear corn), corn silage (the whole corn plant chopped), hay, and liquid protein.

Detailed records are kept daily of the ingredients in the feed ration, scale for measuring additives in the back ground

We also add pellets containing MGA to a heifer (girl cow) ration that keep them from cycling and exhibiting behaviors that could hurt them which increases the efficiency of their feed intake.  Throughout their time in the feedlot, they receive rumensin, which I like to compare to yogurt, to keep their immune system healthy.  They also receive Tylan, in their liquid protein, to prevent disease and increase their feed efficiency. At the very end of the cattle’s time in the feedlot, they are given Optaflexx, an additive that helps them use feed more efficiently.

The scale on the feed wagon allows us to measure ingredients precisely.

I have done a lot of research on all the additives we feed our cattle, and I am confident that doing so benefits the cattle by keeping them healthy without any risk to my family’s health.  We measure every ingredient carefully and feed it at the recommended and safe level.  All of the cattle’s feed additives are very regulated and thoroughly researched and approved by the FDA.  If you are concerned, do your own research, here’s a good starting place: http://www.ag.ndsu.edu/pubs/ansci/beef/as1177w.htm or http://www.cgfi.org/pdfs/nofollow/beef-eco-benefits-paper.pdf

The second link is fascinating to me, it talks about the natural levels of hormones in humans and plants compared to the levels of hormones found in beef (much much lower than the other two).  Certainly, I will always keep my ear to the ground when it comes to these sort of issues.  If a real reason for concern ever arises, we most definitely will rethink our cattle feeding program.  Sometimes I second-guess myself in sharing all the information I have today, because there is a lot of misinformation out there and the media has not been very farmer-friendly lately.  On the other hand,  I feel it is very important for me to share this information openly with the consumer, so that an honest dialogue can develop and continue.

My chore helper

Daddy's chore helper

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