Self-Fed Wheat Middlings in Backgrounding Diets for Beef Heifers: Two-year Summary

T.C. Gilbery, G.P. Lardy, M.L. Bauer, B. Kreft, and J. Dhuyvetter


 

Table of Contents


 

Summary


A study was conducted at CGREC over two winters to evaluate self-fed wheat middlings for backgrounding heifers. In the first year, wheat middlings were offered in: 1) totally mixed ration and 2) self-fed wheat middlings and self-fed chopped grass hay. In the second year, baled grass hay was substituted for the chopped hay. Performance data was collected both years to determine dry matter intake, average daily gain, and feed efficiency of the two dietary treatments. Cattle on self-fed wheat middlings had similar average daily gain, feed intake, and feed efficiency compared to those on wheat middlings fed in a totally mixed ration.



Materials and Methods


Year One: One hundred seventy-one crossbred heifers (621.8 + 72.7 lb initial body weight) were used in a backgrounding study from January to March 2000 to evaluate self-fed vs. mixed diets (totally mixed ration) containing wheat middlings. The totally mixed ration contained 48.25% grass hay, 48.25% wheat middlings, and 3.5% supplement (dry matter basis). The self-fed diet consisted of ad libitum chopped grass hay fed in a fence line bunk and self-fed wheat middlings. The self-fed wheat middlings were fed in a portable creep feeder and contained 93.24% wheat middlings, and 6.76% supplement (dry matter basis). Crude protein concentrations of the feedstuffs were grass hay, 7.82%; wheat middlings, 18.33%; and supplement, 9.86% (dry matter basis). Both diets were formulated to provide adequate calcium to maintain a Ca: P ratio of 1.5:1. Cattle were weighed every 28 days. Feed ingredients were sampled weekly throughout the trial. Daily records of feed offered were recorded.


Year Two: One hundred two crossbred heifers (735.8 + 86.2 lb. initial body weight) were placed on a 73-day backgrounding study beginning in January 2001 to evaluate self-fed vs. mixed diets (totally mixed ration) containing wheat middlings. The totally mixed ration contained 48.25% grass hay,

48.25% wheat middlings, and 3.5% supplement (dry matter basis). The self-fed diet consisted of ad libitum grass hay fed as round bales in a bale feeder and self-fed wheat middlings offered in a portable creep feeder. The self-fed middlings contained, 93.24% wheat middlings, and 6.76% supplement (dry matter basis). Both diets were formulated to provide adequate calcium to maintain a Ca: P ratio of 1.5:1. Cattle were weighed on the first and final day of the trial. Daily records of feed offered were recorded; feed refused was collected and weighed as needed. Performance data was analyzed using the GLM procedure of SAS.



Results and Discussion


Year One: No significant difference was seen between treatments for: intake (18.8 + 0.4 lb; P = 0.78), feed efficiency (0.098 + 0.004 lb; P = 0.64), average daily gain (1.8 + 0.1 lb; P = 0.47), and hay consumption (9.40 + 0.27 lb; P = 0.51). Wheat middlings consumption was higher for totally mixed ration vs. self-fed diet (9.44 vs. 8.58 lb; P = 0.01). Feed intake for the two diets was similar. Feeding these rations with the same ingredients at comparable levels yielded feed efficiencies and ADG that were similar as well (Table 1).


Year Two: No significant difference occurred between treatments for total feed intake (24.5 + 0.32 lb; P = 0.36), average daily gain (1.6 + .07 lb; P = 0.79), or feed efficiency (.068 + .003 lb/gain per lb/feed; P = 0.94). Hay consumption was higher on the totally mixed ration treatment compared to the self-fed treatment (11.95 vs. 9.78 lb; P = 0.01). Wheat middling intake was higher on the self-fed diet (14.53 vs. 12.82 lb; P = 0.0001).

 

Table 1. Effect of feed delivery system (totally mixed ration vs. self-fed) on performance of backgrounding heifers fed wheat middling based diets, 2000 and 2001.


 

LS Mean

Totally Mixed Ration

Self-Fed

Year 1

Year 2

Year 1

Year 2

Total intake, lbs dry matter

18.91

24.77

18.74

24.31

Hay intake, lbs dry matter

 9.25

11.95

  9.54

  9.78

Wheat midds intake, lbs dry matter

9.44

12.82

  8.58

14.53

Average daily gain, lbs

1.88

  1.70

  1.77

  1.67

 

Efficiency

Gain to Feed

0.10

0.068

0.09

0.068

Feed to Gain

10.06

14.64

10.65

14.60

 

When comparing data from year one to year two of the study it is interesting to note that year two had higher total feed intakes (24.5 vs. 18.8 lb/day) and lower feed efficiencies (14.62 vs. 10.35 lb/feed per lb/gain). Colder weather in the second year of the trial may have contributed to these results. Observation of weather data from North Dakota Agricultural Weather Network (NDAWN) lists colder temperatures for two of the three months (February and March) on the second year trial (Table 2). Differences were also noted on middling and hay intakes; year one records showed middling intake levels greater on the totally mixed ration diet vs. the self-fed diet. Year two results yielded significantly higher middling intake on the self-fed treatment with greater hay intake recorded on the totally mixed ration treatment.


Table 2: Monthly temperatures/averages from January to March, 2000 and 2001 and long-term average temperature at Streeter, ND.

 

Average Maximum Temperature

Average Minimum Temperature

Long Term Average Temperatures

Month

Year

Year

Maximum

Minimum

2000

2001

2000

2001

January

22.0

24.8

2.9

6.9

18.3

-2.5

February

31.6

12.3

12.3

-5.5

24.5

3.4

March

45.4

33.1

23.6

15.9

37.1

16.1

Averages

33.0

23.4

13.0

5.8

26.6

5.7

Long term temperatures = 1961 – 1990 average

 

Conclusions


Wheat middlings contain high levels of digestible fiber, thus reducing the occurrence of digestive disorders; this characteristic lends itself to self-feeding. In the two years of this study, results were similar: offering wheat middlings in a self-feeder yielded comparable animal performance to a totally mixed ration. The self-fed method of backgrounding can potentially lower labor and equipment costs, making it attractive to producers with smaller herds and off-the-farm employment. Weather can impact feed needs of backgrounding cattle.


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