Annie’s Project: Protein and Energy Supplements

Annie’s Project: Protein and Energy Supplements


Hello I’m Adele Hardy, Cow-Calf Field Specialist for SDSU Extension, in this video I will clarify differences between protein and energy supplements and share options for each type to find the feed that will best meet the nutrient requirements of the cattle. There are multiple types of feeds available to include in cattle rations. All feeds contain both energy and protein and we will be differentiating them based on the amount of each nutrient in the feed stuff. Oftentimes the biggest challenge is determining whether a protein supplement or an energy supplement is needed to balance a ration. Once this has been determined then you need to find the best alternative to meet the animals requirements and your ability to feed in regards to storage and equipment. Protein supplements are necessary to improve forage digestibility by the rumen microbes especially in low quality diets. Most frequently, cattle that are grazing dormant forage or being fed a low quality hay will require a protein supplement. As a general baseline rumen microbes require a diet that contains 7% crude protein, the rumen microbes utilize the nitrogen and the protein to grow, multiply, and digest the fiber components of the forage. This level of 7% protein does not take into consideration the requirements of the cow herself. A protein supplement can be any feed that will increase the protein content of the basal diet. Examples of protein supplements include by-product feeds, such as distillers grains and corn gluten feed. Other common protein sources are alfalfa hay, soybean meal, range cubes, molasses lick barrels and liquid protein supplements to name a few. The protein levels on these feeds will likely range from slightly lower than 20% up to 44% for the soybean meal. Energy supplements are characterized by low protein content. Traditional energy supplements typically consist of grains that are high in starch content such as corn barley and oats. The challenge is that starch interferes with forage digestion in the rumen. Other energy supplements that are available and decrease the potential for negative associative effects are high-fiber by-product feeds such as soy hulls, wheat middlings, and sugar beet pulp. These high fiber supplements are a way to provide additional energy without changing the rumen environment. The critically important part of identifying and knowing the difference between the two types of supplements is that if the wrong type of supplement is used, efficiency decreases and there is a potential for negative impacts. For instance you observe that cattle are not utilizing a dormant forage well, if an energy supplement is used rather than a protein supplement and inclusion levels are greater than 10% of the diet dry matter a negative associative effect can result. This simply means that the inclusion of the energy supplement can negatively impact forage digestibility and overall nutritive value of the ration. When evaluating your feeding program make sure all nutrient goals are being met and that the appropriate supplement is being utilized to overcome shortfalls. Read the feed tag or the analysis sheet to determine whether it is a protein or energy supplement. What is the main nutrient that this feed will be adding to the ration? In addition to making sure you have the right type of supplements, evaluate options on a cost per unit of nutrient basis to focus on the most economic option. Through this video I have given you some tips and examples for differentiating between protein and energy supplements for cattle. For more information on cattle nutrition visit iGrow.org. [music]

Add a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *