Monday, February 10, 2014

Just Corn and Oats
I had a question today about home-made calf starter grain. The farm grows both corn and oats. They want to make their calf starter grain using these grains. What proportion of cracked corn to rolled oats should they use?
The answer is that no matter what proportion of these grains they use the resulting blend will be much too low in protein for preweaned calves. 
Book values of crude protein (let's not get into using metabolizable protein) for these two grains are: corn = 9.4 and oats = 13.2 percent.
Recommended protein level for young calves is 18 percent.
My suggestion was to talk with their feed dealer about a high-protein pellet that could be blended with their home-grown grains. For example, dealers often stock pelleted feeds ranging from 30 to 45 percent crude protein.
Alternatively, I suggest that a farm like this consider blending whole shelled corn with the high protein pellet. This can be used as the grain source up through four months of age. In order to manage this well the producer must remember to provide this mix free-choice; that is, do not let the calves run out of feed - we don't want them to slug feed because they were without feed for any significant length of time. Of course, water should be free-choice as well. 

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