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Navigating the transition - weaned calves to feedbunks
Kansas Ag Connection - 09/22/2023

Akin to diners adjusting to chopsticks at a restaurant, newly weaned calves face challenges when moving from pasture to drylot. This switch includes adapting to unfamiliar feedbunks, a topic explored by Kansas State University's Beef Cattle Institute in a recent podcast.

Phillip Lancaster, a seasoned beef cattle nutritionist at K-State, stressed the importance of cattle recognizing feed in the bunk. To facilitate this, he suggests integrating long-stem hay with the feed. Starting cattle on high-quality hay is also beneficial, as the transition to eating from the bunk typically takes two to three days.

A notable consideration for producers is the choice between delivering hay via a round bale feeder or grinding it. Both methods have merits. Ground hay, for instance, breaks down faster in the rumen due to its smaller size, letting cattle consume more daily energy than from a round bale. Cattle tend to waste hay from round bales, leading to inefficiencies.

K-State veterinarian Bob Larson highlighted the upside of ground hay: the ease of portion control, especially in restricted feeding scenarios. Yet, another K-State veterinarian, Brian Lubbers, brought attention to the downsides, notably the associated equipment and labor costs.

Nevertheless, for those equipped, the experts concur that including chopped hay in the ration boosts feed efficiency.

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