Increasing the Digestion of Forages with Protein Supplementation

Francis L. Fluharty, Ph.D., Department of Animal Sciences, The Ohio State University (excerpted from Optimizing Performance of Cattle by Increasing the Digestion of Forages with Protein Supplementation)

Ruminant animals in grazing situations need to maximize forage digestion in order to increase performance parameters such as average daily gain or milk production. Factors that limit the animal’s ability to reach production goals may include the forage’s energy and protein content, or availability. These factors are impacted by the forage species, maturity, lignin concentration, and ruminal ammonia requirements of cellulose digesting bacterial species.

However, unlike grain-based diets, there is a time period, referred to as the lag phase, required for cellulose digesting bacteria to attach to forage particles. This creates a situation where protein availability in the rumen must match the timing of energy availability in order to achieve optimum microbial digestion. Continue reading

Processing Forage Can Increase Digestibility 30%

Francis L. Fluharty, Ph.D., Department of Animal Sciences, The Ohio State University (excerpted from Energy Use in Digestion, and Increasing the Digestibility of Forages with Processing Technologies)

Feed costs are rising, and corn price projections are currently maintaining between $4.95 and $5.35 per bushel on corn futures through December 2010. This equals $.088 to $.095 per pound, or $176 to $190 per ton. Dried distillers grains and corn gluten feed are currently in this same price range, and the prices of other alternative feeds are keeping pace on an energy and protein basis, so there are no cheap supplemental feeds for cow-calf producers, stocker cattle operations, or feedlots. Therefore, forage-based operations must utilize cost effective management tools that maximize forage digestibility. Continue reading