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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Title: Nutrition and Health of Feeder Calves: Energy, Protein, and Vitamin Nutrition

Author
item Cole, Noel

Submitted to: High Plains Beef Conference
Publication Type: Proceedings
Publication Acceptance Date: August 7, 1998
Publication Date: N/A

Technical Abstract: Death losses in feeder cattle can range from 1.5 to 2.7% of animals marketed with 67 to 75% of these deaths attributed to respiratory disease, and much of the remainder attributed to digestive disturbances. Proper nutrition can assist in preparing the animal for a period of stress and can enhance recovery from stressful periods. One method used to ensure that calves are properly nourished upon leaving the farm is to wean them 4 week before sale and feed a balanced ration (preweaning). At the feedyard, preweaned calves will have about 20% less sickness and death loss, but 0 to 7% poorer feed conversions than calves that are not preweaned. Thus, economic benefits realized from improved health may be negated by poorer feed conversions. Empirical evidence suggests that preweaning calves 45 to 60 days before sale and feeding them to gain about 1.5 to 2 lb/day is more economical than a 30-day ad libitum preweaning program. A second method that requires less investment and time than preweaning is creep feeding, especially limited-creep feeding. Feeding calves a 50% concentrate, balanced diet at the auction and order buyer barn can return about $20 for each dollar invested. In general, the receiving diet should contain 50 to 70% concentrate (plus free choice hay for 3+ days), 13 to 15% protein, and provide sufficient quantities of vitamins and minerals so the calf receives his daily requirements of these nutrients with a feed intake of 1 to 1.5% of body weight. Although general recommendations can be made concerning the management of stressed feeder calves, no one best program can be devised for every load of calves. Hence, the consultant and cattle feeder must be prepared to adjust management to fit each load of calves.

Last Modified: 10/1/2014
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