Feed management for show steers
When showing cattle, you want the judge to see all of their attributes. Boost your calf's chance of being noticed with proper feeding management before and during the show.
Radio interview source: Dr. Steve Blezinger, Animal Mangement/Nutrition Consultant, Reveille Livestock Concepts
Raising calves to show in 4-H or FFA requires precise nutritional planning.
Steve Blezinger is an animal nutritional and management consultant. He says a steer needs to be in 100-percent condition from every standpoint. The animal's frame and musculature should be grown out to its full genetic potential by showtime. This requires getting the right balance of energy and protein, but the tricky part is that the ratios are also based on breed.
"Maybe say a predominantly Angus or a Hereford-type steer, you're going to have to feed them a little more protein a little bit longer to make sure that you get that frame up the way it's supposed to," he says. "And then, you really have to start pushing the energy to them in the form of grain, and then the fat content trying to get that fat cover, trying to get that finish on that animal. And some animals are more difficult to finish than other ones are."
Nearly everyone who shows cattle is concerned over how to keep that fit and finish while at the competition. Don't suddenly change from one feed to another; it's important to keep the animal's ration as consistent as possible. However, it's not uncommon for animals to go off-feed when they're in unfamiliar surroundings. Blezinger recommends having an alternate plan just in case.
"It's always a good idea before you ever get to that point to try to find out, is there one particular type of grain, or feed, or something that they will eat better than anything else," says Blezinger. "Typically there's something that at the very least they will nibble at."
Another trick is to feed the calf in the same container as you do at home, and at the same time each day. Make sure it has plenty of rope to reach into the food pan, and don't bother it while it's eating.
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