Protein Supplementation

Protein Requirements for Beef Cattle Many cattle in the western United States consume low-quality forage ( < 6% Crude Protein) from late summer through winter. Digestible crude protein is normally insufficient to maintain cow weight and body condition during this period.

Supplementation with protein increases cow weight gain and body condition score, forage intake and digestibility, and can improve reproductive performance. However, winter supplementation can be very expensive. In addition to actual supplement costs, winter supplementation includes other expenses such as the labor, time, and equipment associated with supplement delivery.

Decreasing the frequency of protein supplementation is one management practice that decreases labor and time costs. It has been suggested that recycling of absorbed N to the rumen may support fermentation between times of supplementation. In addition, research has shown that protein supplements can be fed at infrequent intervals and still maintain acceptable levels of performance. However, data is limited comparing the effects of degradable intake protein (DIP) and undegradable intake protein (UIP) supplemented at infrequent intervals on forage intake, forage digestibility, microbial protein synthesis, and efficiency of N use. Therefore, current studies include:

Winter Feeding Influence of protein Degradability and Supplementation Frequency on Lambs Consuming Low-Quality Forage: Efficiency of Nitrogen Use

Influence of Rumen Protein Degradability and Supplementation Frequency on Steers Consuming Low-Quality Forage: Ruminal Fermentation, Site and Extent of Nutrient Digestibility, and Microbial Efficiency

Influence of Rumen Protein Degradability and Supplementation Frequency on Cows Consuming Low-Quality Forage: Cow Performance

Influence of Protein Supplementation Frequency on Cows Consuming Low-Quality Forage: Performance, Intake, Harvest Efficiency, and Pasture Utilization

The objective of this research is to determine the influence of ruminal protein degradability and supplementation frequency on utilization of low-quality forage by ruminants. This knowledge will assist in developing management strategies that help reduce winter feed costs while maintaining acceptable levels of production

For more information about this research contact Dave Bohnert.