By Lynell Morgan
Co-Publisher, The Elgin Review
Since the days that cattle were driven across the Plains to far away pastures for better quality grasses, producers have been searching for the best nutrition for their buck. Over 100 years later, cattle producers are taking what their pastures and crops have given them and looking at current options available to improve their herds’ nutritional needs right at home.
Beginning in 1979, Jerry’s Feed Service in Elgin has been working closely with area producers to provide the highest quality feed components possible. Says owner Alan Faust, “We work with producers to determine their nutritional needs and what they have for feed stuffs. Then we use a nutritionist like Larry (Shavlik) to determine what the best combination of customers (forage) and our products is needed to give them the best value.”
Larry Shavlik of rural Bartlett has worked with individual producers and businesses like Jerry’s for over 38 years, helping formulate the perfect feeds for each individual operation.
Shavlik, Cattle Specialist with Purina™ Animal Nutrition, starts working with young feeders, ensuring the proper nutrients at each stage of their growth. “I’ll work with producers starting with creep feed,” he said, adding that he also works with “brood cow nutrition and (cattle) in the feedlots”.
What does today’s cattle feed look like? Both Faust and Shavlik point towards the ethanol industry as creating the biggest change in cattle feed composition — by-products.
“I would say 100% of the producers I work with are using a by-product,” Shavlik noted. He explained that most of those by-products are supplied in three forms… “modified wet distillers (MWD) grains, wet distillers and Golden Synergy (from ADM in Columbus)”.
Since the shelf life of wet by-products is short (seven to ten days), a business like Jerry’s Feed Service provides the perfect bridge between the ethanol plant and the producer. “We can provide just enough to last that long with minimal waste,” said Faust. “If they order from the plant, they must take a full semi-load which can be cost-prohibitive because of the waste.” Faust says they are able to supply “Synergy, MWD, Dried Distillers Grains with Solubles (DDGS), Soybean Mill (SBM) and a variety of supplements – both wet and dry,”
One Formula Does Not Fit All
As a Cattle Specialist, Shavlik needs to first look at what feed components the producer is utilizing.
“I’ll take samples of the feed ingredients like hay, corn, silage and distillers,” Shavlik explained. “Then I’m able to put the rations together.” Shavlik has the samples analyzed in a lab and usually has the results back in two days so changes in feed formulas can be made quickly. “After I analyze the ingredients, I give the producers what additional ingredients they need and the ingredient percentage.”
Along with by-products that are now an important part to the livestock food formula, Jerry’s supplies producers with their popular BP Balancer Liquids and a full line of minerals which are designed to supplement those rations that include by-products.
Gary and Mark Dinslage operate a small (400+) feedlot just south of Elgin. According to Gary, they’ve been working with Jerry’s Feed for over 15 years and during that time, their feed formula has evolved. “I’ve worked with Jerry and Alan,” Gary said Tuesday morning. An early adopter of ethonal by-products, he talked about his current feed product. “We currently do a mix including Golden Synergy and percentages of various roughage.” Dinslage explained how the different ratios work with breeding heifers, cows, feeders and fats. The Dinslages also add a low protein liquid supplement.
In the end, everyone has the same goal. As Shavlik puts it, “every producer is wanting the same end results. Overall good performance — average rate of gain and good feed efficiency.”
From the pasture to the lot, the right nutritional mix ensures healthy, high-quality livestock and, in turn, great tasting beef on America’s tables.
By Lynell Morgan