How to get fat on young cattle

Toby Doak: How to get fat on young cattle

Beef
There can be real challenges in achieving minimum fat depth levels on young cattle.

There can be real challenges in achieving minimum fat depth levels on young cattle.

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There can be real challenges in achieving minimum fat depth levels on young cattle.

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AS beef producers strive to produce heavier slaughter cattle at a younger age, there can be a real challenge in achieving minimum fat depth levels.

Increasing the energy density of diets will help lay down fat but there are limitations in the amount of grain that can be included in rations. In addition to an increased cost of gain, there is also the health risk associated with acidosis.

Typically liquid vegetable oils have been used as an alternative to grain in the ration. However, the problem with free oil is that its over-use can negatively impact the microbial population in the rumen, limiting fibre digestion. In addition to being somewhat difficult to handle and store, free oil can also coat the ingested feed and further reducing productivity.

Protected plant-based fat can play a key role when targeting meatworks specifications with young cattle.

Protected plant-based fat can play a key role when targeting meatworks specifications with young cattle.

The solution lies in feeding protected plant-based fat such as Alltech Energy, which is the highest energy ingredient available for use in diets. It is worth noting that most ration ingredients are relatively low in fat. This protected fat is in prill form making it easy to manage when mixing rations.

Fat as a high energy source increases the flexibility in formulating rations. Most importantly the increase in energy intake directly results in weight gain and fat deposition, a big advantage when targeting meatworks specifications with young cattle.

Another big advantage is that Alltech Energy does not interfere with rumen fermentation and does not add to the acid load as is the case with starchy energy sources such as cereals. This enables the energy density of diets to be increased without increasing the risk of acidosis.

Alltech Energy is a dry fat supplement containing palmitic, stearic and oleic free fatty acids and can included in grain or mineral mixes, and be part of a total mixed ration (TMR) or top-dressed. Long-chain saturated fatty acids found in Alltech Energy, particularly palmitic acid, are not only a good source of energy, but they also have been found to be easily digestible.

Already popular in dairy rations as a means of increasing milk yields and components, the fatty acids present in Alltech Energy are precursors for fertility hormones including progesterone production. Given this, the product also has direct fit into any breeding cow drylick or grain based supplementation program.

WHAT'S THE COST

Alltech Energy contains 37 megajoules of metabolisable energy per kg. That makes it almost three times the energy density of cereal grains. The inclusion rate will vary from 5-15kg for each tonne of finished feed. By example, if a 350kg steer consumes 11kg of feed, 55-156g is required. At $2.30/kg that's a daily cost of 13c-38c/head/day respectively.

- Toby Doak is a livestock nutrition advisor with Alltech Lienert Australia.

The story How to get fat on young cattle first appeared on Queensland Country Life.

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