As winter approaches, the switch to stored feeds begins. During this change, feed quality needs to be considered to maintain the health and production of your livestock. Your animals are relying on you to provide quality feeds to help them stay healthy and continue to meet performance expectations.
To maximize feed quality, ensure your feed is stored away from direct sunlight and in cool temperatures, ideally below 77°F. We know this isn’t always manageable. Stored feed already has a higher risk of being infected with molds and toxins, so if you are storing feed and can’t keep it in a cool, dry place, you need to get your grains tested. Especially with all the rain we have received this past year. Fungal growth, mycotoxins and nutrient destruction can be caused by pockets of moisture as low as 16%, when temperatures are right. Testing for molds and toxins and acting as needed (with Redmond Conditioner or Fertrell’s Kelp Conditioner) will help prevent a decrease in feed conversion. Levels of just 2ppm of mycotoxins in grains can result in a 10% or greater decrease in feed efficiency.
Also, certain nutrients in stored feeds can deplete over time. Vitamins A, D, and E, along with the B vitamins are less stable and deplete in stored feeds. Additionally, your livestock won’t be getting the added benefit of the vitamins and minerals that are found in pasture. Because of that, it’s important to adjust the vitamin and mineral premix to meet the animal’s needs. For example, switching from Grazier’s Choice to Cattle Choice to balance the loss of vitamins and minerals that cattle were getting from pasture in the grazing season. This will help ensure your animal is getting the micronutrients needed to stay healthy and continue to perform during the winter months.
Additional items of concern:
- Oxidation of nutrients will destroy unsaturated fats, essential fatty acids, Vitamins A, C, D, biotin, and lysine. This will cause an off flavor and a loss of activity of fatty acids and vitamins.
- Light will degrade riboflavin, which is essential for many processes including normal cell growth and function.
- Insect and rodent damage. Having a safe, effective rodent control program will help decrease your risk of fecal contamination in stored feeds.
- Grinding, flaking, and crimping of grains releases oil from the germ, which will oxidize within days or weeks after processing, decreasing palatability and nutrient content.
If you have questions about your feed storage program or questions about any of the products mentioned here, contact us! Either comment below or email firstname.lastname@example.org