Two new online tools for measuring feed quality are now available.
The tools (developed by the Alberta Beef, Forage and Grazing Centre) can help flag potential nutritional problems, and identify the comparative economic value of different feeds based on their quality.
Feed testing can prevent ‘sneaky production problems ‘ (such as poor gains or reduced conception caused by mineral or nutrient deficiencies or excesses); identify toxicity issues (caused by mycotoxins, nitrates, sulphates, or other minerals or nutrients); develop nutritionally appropriate rations; identify nutritional gaps that may require supplementation; identify opportunities to include diverse ingredients; and accurately price feed.
One of the tools is for evaluating feed test results.
While not intended for use in ration balancing, it can identify potential issues with individual feed ingredients.
Users first select the cattle class (backgrounding, replacements, mature cows or mature bulls) and then either the average daily gain (for backgrounding) or stage of production (for the other three classes). The weight of the cattle is entered in Step 3 and in the last step, the results of feed tests are entered.
The suitability of the feed is indicated by a colour-coded response. Green indicates that the nutrient is adequate to meet nutritional requirements. Yellow indicates the TDN requirements are within a range of plus or minus 2.5 per cent; within plus or minus five per cent for CP requirements; and 0.05 per cent below mineral requirements. Red indicates the feed does not meet animal requirements.
The second tool evaluates the economic value of feeds based on nutrient content.
It uses the current price of a reference feed (such as barley, canola meal, or another option chosen by the producer) and feeds that are under consideration.
For links to both tools and a full explanation on how to use them, go to beefresearch.ca for ‘Tool for Evaluating the Economic Value of Using a Single Feed.’