New UNL research geared to increase profitability

Jul 31, 2009
by WLJ
New UNL research geared to increase profitability

Three new University of Nebraska– Lincoln (UNL) research projects underway at the Gudmundsen Sandhills Laboratory (GSL) near Whitman seek to reduce feed cost while maintaining benefits.

The offspring of cattle fed a protein supplement during the last trimester of gestation have consistently performed better than the offspring of cattle not supplemented, said beef nutrition specialist Aaron Stalker.

One of the three new studies will investigate two factors—the level of supplemental protein needed to get the response, and if the level of condition the cow maintains in the third trimester affects the calf’s performance.

A second study will investigate the efficacy of replacing grazed pasture with a combination of wet distillers grains and poor-quality forage, Stalker said. Since pasture rental rates continue to rise, Stalker will experiment with these less expensive feedstuffs to help reduce feed cost.

“We’re shooting for 50-50,” he said, “so half the daily intake is grazed forage and half is this mixture of distillers grains and poor-quality forage.”

Stalker thinks this research will have implications for drought management. If the substitution works out, producers could make up for a drought-induced shortage of grazed forage with distillers grains and forage of lesser quality. He’s also hopeful that the mixture could help young producers get started, since the capital cost of buying land is a major deterrent for younger producers. If this works, it will be a way for new producers to increase herd size without a lot of capital expense.

The third project Stalker mentioned involved beginning a new calving herd at GSL. The new herd will calve in May. UNL has experimented with several different calving dates and the new herd will provide a way to investigate the costs, returns, and profitability of calving in May. — WLJ