Optimize Feed Efficiency to Manage Rising Ration Costs

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Feed costs are on the rise for many cattle producers, a situation they haven’t faced for several years. According to Nathan Pyatt, beef technical consultant with Elanco Animal Health, increasing grain prices have added $20 to $50 per dry ton of feed* to many ration prices. That may be an increase of 10% to 25%, depending on the operation. Multiplied across all the days that cattle are on feed, it’s easy to see that those are some pretty dramatic increases in feed costs.

How Can Cattle Producers Manage Rising Feed Costs?

If you’re a cattle producer, now is the time to consider all your options to optimize feed efficiency. You may find that it’s time to make a change to your feeding program to help your bottom line. Here are some options to consider.

Cattle Type and Marketing End Point

One option cattle producers have to reduce feed costs is to shorten days on feed and/or finish cattle at lighter weights and leaner compositional end points. One risk with that strategy is that packers may not accept leaner cattle and there’s no way to guarantee a favorable profit outcome.

Feed Decisions

Another option is to make feed changes such as evaluating best cost diets to optimize performance versus least cost diets to meet requirements as inexpensively as possible, and optimizing feed additive technologies. “Increasing the Rumensin® dose can help improve incremental feed efficiency.1 Rumensin is proven to maintain gain while reducing the feed investment without affecting the long-term end point,” says Pyatt.

Management Influence

Cattle producers could also consider implementing technologies that improve daily gain, including evaluating implant dose and timing and adding a beta-agonist like Optaflexx® during the late feeding period to help maintain efficiency as long as possible while cattle are slowing down biologically.2

Focus on Feed Efficiency

As ration prices increase, feed efficiency is worth more. For example, if feed costs are at $200 per ton, a one-tenth improvement in feed conversion might be worth $7 per head.** As ration prices climb to $250 per ton, that efficiency improvement could be worth an additional $1.75 per head** in terms of incremental opportunity because of the increase in feed price. The class of cattle and the length of stay at the feedyard will determine how many days that feed savings multiplies. Feed efficiency value (and feed savings) is magnified in lighter-weight cattle that have spent longer days on feed.**

“Rumensin is a product that doesn’t require major diet or management changes. Increasing the Rumensin dose promotes incremental improvements in feed efficiency. The rule of thumb based on research is that every 100 mg increase in Rumensin results in about a 1% improvement in feed efficiency,”3 explains Pyatt.

With today’s higher ration prices, that incremental opportunity is worth more. Rumensin can help bring more net return in scenarios where feed prices are high, and those feed savings are a direct benefit of the Rumensin dose.

Tap Into Expert Knowledge

Pyatt says during times like these, your nutritionist is an invaluable resource who can help come up with practical ways to optimize feed costs. Be sure to have an open dialogue so that you can carefully weigh the options available to decide what might be feasible in order to maintain gain, efficiency and profitability.

While a number of large-scale alternatives can be considered in terms of end-point management, some things can be fine-tuned to make big improvements in feed efficiency and cost of gain. Contact your Elanco representative to learn more about how Rumensin can help improve feed efficiency.

For all products: The label contains complete use information, including cautions and warnings. Always read, understand and follow the label and use directions.

Rumensin®

CAUTION: Consumption by unapproved species or feeding undiluted may be toxic or fatal. Do not feed to veal calves.

Growing beef steers and heifers fed in confinement for slaughter:

For improved feed efficiency: Feed 5 to 40 g/ton of monensin (90% DM basis) continuously in a complete feed to provide 50 to 480 mg/hd/day.

For the prevention and control of coccidiosis due to Eimeria bovis and Eimeria zuernii: Feed 10 to 40 g/ton of monensin (90% DM basis) continuously to provide 0.14 to 0.42 mg/lb of body weight/day, depending upon severity of challenge, up to a maximum of 480 mg/hd/day.

Growing beef steers and heifers on pasture (stocker, feeder, and slaughter) or in a dry lot, and replacement beef and dairy heifers:

For increased rate of weight gain: Feed 50 to 200 mg/hd/day in at least 1.0 lb of Type C Medicated Feed. Or, after the 5th day, feed 400 mg/hd/day every other day in 2.0 lbs of Type C Medicated Feed. The Type C Medicated Feed must contain 15 to 400 g/ton of monensin (90% DM basis). Do not self feed.

For the prevention and control of coccidiosis due to Eimeria bovis and Eimeria zuernii: Feed at a rate to provide 0.14 to 0.42 mg/lb of body weight/day, depending upon severity of challenge, up to a maximum of 200 mg/hd/day. The Type C Medicated Feed must contain 15 to 400 g/ton of monensin (90% DM basis).

Type C free-choice medicated feeds: All Type C free-choice medicated feeds containing Rumensin must be manufactured according to an FDA-approved formula/specification. When using a formula/specification published in the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR), a Medicated Feed Mill license is not required. Use of Rumensin in a proprietary formula/specification not published in the CFR requires prior FDA approval and a Medicated Feed Mill License.

Beef cows:

For improved feed efficiency when receiving supplemental feed: Feed continuously at a rate of 50 to 200 mg/hd/day. Cows on pasture or in dry lot must receive a minimum of 1.0 lb of Type C Medicated Feed per head per day. Do not self feed.

For the prevention and control of coccidiosis due to Eimeria bovis and Eimeria zuernii: Feed at a rate of 0.14 to 0.42 mg/lb of body weight/day, depending upon severity of challenge, up to a maximum of 200 mg/hd/day.

Optaflexx®

CAUTION: Not for animals intended for breeding.

Complete feed

For increased rate of weight gain and improved feed efficiency in cattle fed in confinement for slaughter: Feed 8.2 to 24.6 g/ton of ractopamine hydrochloride (90% DM basis) continuously in a complete feed to provide 70 to 430 mg/hd/d for the last 28 to 42 days on feed.

For increased rate of weight gain, improved feed efficiency and increased carcass leanness in cattle fed in confinement for slaughter: Feed 9.8 to 24.6 g/ton of ractopamine hydrochloride (90% DM basis) continuously in a complete feed to provide 90 to 430 mg/hd/d for the last 28 to 42 days on feed.

Top dress 

For increased rate of weight gain and improved feed efficiency in cattle fed in confinement for slaughter: Feed 70 to 400 mg/hd/d of ractopamine hydrochloride (90% DM basis) continuously in a minimum of 1.0 lb/hd/d top dress Type C medicated feed (maximum 800 g/ton ractopamine hydrochloride) during the last 28 to 42 days on feed.

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1Elanco Animal Health. Data on file.

2Pyatt NA, Vogel GJ, et al. Effects of ractopamine hydrochloride on performance and carcass characteristics in finishing steers: 32-trial summary. J. Anim Sci. 2013;91(E-suppl. 1):79.

3Duffield TF, Merrill JK, Bagg RN. Meta-analysis of the effects of monensin in beef cattle on feed efficiency, body weight gain, and dry matter intake. J Anim Sci. 2012;90(12):4583-92.

*Assumes 75% DM dietary inclusion of corn grain at $3.50/bu vs. $4.50 or $5.50/bu adds $26-$52/t DM, respectively.

Optaflexx, Rumensin, Elanco and the diagonal bar logo are trademarks of Elanco or its affiliates.

© 2021 Elanco.

PM-US-21-1029(2)

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