Monday Extension Report – July 17, 2017

July 17, 2017

Reminders for 4-H families

4-H fair entries are due next Monday, July 24 for everything except what goes to the Exhibit Hall. Pre-entry is not required for the exhibits in the exhibit hall, but it will speed up check-in

Youth are invited to experience the exciting world of entrepreneurship where the possibilities are endless and the only thing limiting them is their own imagination! Tinker. Explore. Create. or TEC Box, is a program to introduce youth to the idea of entrepreneurship, encourage active listening, facilitate creative problem solving and focus on the non-technical aspects of entrepreneurship. This entrepreneurship program is for youth ages 8 to 11. It is July 26 and 27 at the Cherry County Extension Office from 1:00 to 3:00 both days. You must sign up by July 21.

Protein Supplementation and forage intake

I think it’s best to start off with a quick review of ruminant physiology.

Based on how many times I’ve heard someone say they are feeding supplement to “stretch the grass,” I think there are some misconceptions about what is happening when you supplement protein.

This is where the ruminant physiology comes in. How much a cow can eat is determined by two factors; how much her rumen can hold (rumen capacity,) and how quickly the rumen is emptied so she has room to eat more (rumen passage rate.)

Passage rate is affected by diet quality. The lower the quality of the diet, the slower the passage rate. That’s one of the unfortunate things about feeding cows. They can eat more high quality feed than they can eat low quality feed, even though it takes less of it to meet their requirements.

Now you’re thinking – “I’m not sure I needed a biology lesson, what’s your point?” My point is that when you increase diet quality by supplementing, you increase passage rate and thereby increase the amount she can eat.

Supplementing low quality forage with protein increases animal performance, but it does not “stretch” the grass. It actually allows them to eat more of it.

The same is true for hay, not just for grass. Providing adequate protein will increase the amount of low-quality forage a cow can eat. That is good for two reasons. It allows us to use lower quality feeds than we would be able to use otherwise.

In years of cheaper hay, that is probably the most important benefit. But in years when hay is expensive there is one other benefit that comes into play.

We can often “limit-feed,” that is to feed a cow less than she would be able to consume and still meet her nutrient requirements. This usually results in less feeding waste if hay is fed on the ground.

Protein supplement only stretches feed when intake is limited. Protein supplementation increases passage rate, which means that cows can eat more.

Not only can they eat more, but they definitely will eat more if allowed to eat all they want.

As always, you can call the extension office at 402-376-1850 for more information.

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