- Jin Gan
Pasture Management - Using Cattle Supplements
Regardless if you are a cow producer trying to sell weaned calves or trying to put weight on cattle, it is vital to use pasture grass resources as efficiently as possible. It is especially important to optimise the use of existing pastureland when the land prices are high.
One way to increase grazing efficiency within pastures is to ensure better grazing distribution.
It is a very common sight to see overgrazed pastures near water troughs or where the forage is fed while at the same time, having underutilised area with forage that should be grazed. Normally, the animals only go so far from feed and water sources. With that being said, it is possible to bait them into other underused areas.
Farmers normally try to control cattle grazing by using fence and water sources but they require substantial investment. The cheaper alternative is to bait using cattle supplements. Cattle will naturally seek out protein and mineral products as they crave them. Hence, protein and mineral supplements can be used to help distribute grazing if used properly.
Cattle tubs can help to increase grazing distribution even in pastures where the hay, cubes and other protein sources are fed. By offering mineral supplements and protein sources in the pasture, away from the delivery area, this will help to draw the cattle into other parts of the pasture.
For cattle that never had liquid supplements or block-type tubs, farmers can start placing them in an area where the group can get adjusted to them. It is recommended to first place the cattle supplements close to the water and loafing areas. Then, farmers can gradually move them farther away so that the cattle will start to seek out these supplement sources and move to the underutilised pasture areas.
After you start to shift the cattle supplements away from water and loafing areas, start observing the intake and cattle patterns over the next few weeks. By knowing the weight of cattle mineral tubs being put out, number of cattle, number of days the cattle have access to the tubs, it is easy to calculate how much the cattle are eating.
If cattle intake is higher than what is desired, start to move the supplements further out. If the cattle intake is lower than desired, move the supplements closer to the water and loafing area until cattle intake is at the correct level. After that, gradually move the cattle supplements to the underutilised areas of grazing land.
You are also able to visually monitor the distribution by examining the grass around the supplements. If the pasture grass looks like it has been frequently walked on and there is manure in that area, then it means the cows are moving to the desired areas. As the cows are grazing underutilised areas, you can slowly draw the cows to other areas as needed by using cattle supplement as bait.
No farmers want to see big areas of grazing land go unused as that is dollars per acre not turning into profit. It is very important to monitor pasture resources and use protein and mineral supplements as bait so that cattle will graze into those underutilised areas. This will help boost the profitability of the farm.