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Alternative Production Systems for Weaned Calves and Lambs

Investigators
Schauer, Christopher; Geaumont, Benjamin; Dahlen, Carl; Berg, Paul T
Institutions
North Dakota State University
Start date
2010
End date
2015
Objective

1. Investigate alternative production methods for growing calves and lambs.

2. Evaluate effects of alternative feedstuffs in growing and finishing diets on calf and lamb growth performance and meat quality characteristics.

3. Examine the economics associated with alternative feedstuffs and production methods.

Clearly, animal nutrition and feeding systems require feedback from a variety of sources. Likewise, the impact of new and emerging crops affects resources available to sustain animal feeding activities. For livestock production to remain viable in North Dakota, producers must continue to have access to feed resources, management techniques, and advanced technologies to produce food products more efficiently and economically, while meeting consumer expectations of food safety, nutrition, health and wellness, animal welfare, and sustainability. Feed costs represent the biggest cost input for animal producers. Likewise, these producers are challenged with increasing land, equipment, seed, feed, fertilizer, and fuel costs, which negatively effect their ranches' profitability and sustainability. By replacing traditionally used and more expensive feedstuffs of corn, urea and soybean meal with alternative feed ingredients, greater financial returns can be realized by North Dakota cattle and sheep producers through decreased operating and overhead costs, increased animal performance, and improved marketing capabilities. Similarly, the discovery and adoption of different production techniques can improve and enhance operational efficiency by lowering equipment and overhead costs, reducing labor needs, improving animal well-being and welfare, and providing greater economic return per animal unit. Economic analysis will be the final determinant of whether the investigated alternative feed ingredients and modified production methods are truly beneficial to the North Dakota livestock industry. A multi-disciplinary, integrated team approach will be utilized in this project, including input from the research center's advisory board members (local area grain and livestock producers), local NDSU county extension agents, and NDSU state extension species specialists, ensuring research objectives will solve producer problems and meet the needs of livestock producers in southwestern North Dakota and the state as well. Research results and study implications will be disseminated to producers and agribusinesses by the HREC's annual research reports, NDSU Beef Feedlot Research Reports, NDSU Sheep Research Report, NDSU Beef Cattle and Range Research Reports, by NDSU state extension species specialists, peer-reviewed journals, and agricultural popular press articles. Research information will also be circulated in extension bulletins, on the HREC website (www.ag.ndsu.edu/HettingerREC/), during HREC field days (Beef Day; Sheep Schools; Crops Tours) and various other extension programming throughout the year. Results and interpretation will be provided to mass media (print, radio, and TV) to convey timely information to producers.

More information

NON-TECHNICAL SUMMARY:
Agriculture plays a vital role in North Dakota's economy; livestock and crop production accounted for over 24 percent of the state's economic base in 2007. Cash receipts from crop and livestock sales in 2007 totaled over $398.8 million to the state's economy. Furthermore, agriculture employed 9.5 percent of the state's workers and generated more than $6 billion in gross receipts. For livestock production to remain viable in North Dakota, producers must continue to have access to feed resources, management techniques, and advanced technologies to produce food products more efficiently and economically, while meeting consumer expectations of food safety, nutrition, health and wellness, animal welfare and sustainability. Feed costs represent the biggest cost input for animal producers. Likewise, these producers are challenged with increasing land, equipment, seed, fertilizer and fuel costs, which negatively affect their ranches' profitability and sustainability. By replacing more expensive and traditionally used feed ingredients such as corn, urea and soybean meal with alternative feeds, greater financial returns can be realized by North Dakota cattle and sheep producers through decreased operating and overhead costs, increased animal performance, and improved marketing capabilities. Similarly, the discovery and adoption of different production techniques can improve and enhance operational efficiency by lowering equipment and overhead costs, reducing labor needs, improving animal well-being and welfare, and providing greater economic return per animal unit. Focused studies of new production inputs and practices require evaluation to determine their influence on animal production, animal welfare and profitability. This research allows for the refinement and adoption of new management practices and alternative feed ingredients, enabling producers to become more competitive in the global market place.

APPROACH:
Objectives 1 and 2: Treatments imposed will be progressive and responsive to livestock producer needs. Proposed areas of research include, but are not limited to, the use of implants on feeder lambs, alternative forage feeding methods (grazing cover crops, swath grazing, bale grazing and mob grazing), self-fed rations, strategic supplementation strategies, the use of alternative feedstuffs and ethanol co-products in growing and finishing lamb and calf diets. Animals will be stratified by weight and within weight blocks, assigned randomly to alternative production method or alternative feedstuff to evaluate animal growth performance and carcass characteristics. Treatments will be assigned randomly to pens within blocks, with a minimum of three replications per treatment (pen or pasture). All animals will be raised using best management practices for beef and sheep (IACUC, beef and sheep quality assurance protocols). Animal feedlot performance data including but not limited to dry matter intakes, weight gains, average daily gains, feed conversions and gain efficiencies, morbidity, mortality, feed cost of gain and veterinary medicine costs will be measured during the course of the study. At the end of the respective study, animals will be harvested at a commercial abattoir and carcass measurements will be collected. Carcass parameters to be measured include, but are not limited to, hot carcass weight, dressing percentage, marbling score, fat cover, rib eye area, kidney, pelvic and heart fat, USDA yield and quality grades, leg score, conformation score, body wall thickness, flank streaking, percent of boneless closely trimmed retail cuts. Data will be analyzed as a randomized complete block design using PROC MIXED procedures of SAS (SAS Inst. Inc., Cary NC) with pen or pasture serving as the experimental unit. Treatment means will be separated by least square means following a protected F-test (P PROGRESS: 2012/10 TO 2013/09Target Audience: The target audience is land managers, livestock managers, feed companies, biological researchers in the fields of animal and range science, and private entities interested in livestock production. Changes/Problems: Nothing Reported What opportunities for training and professional development has the project provided? Graduate students were trained in research techniques, writing, and presenting research results. How have the results been disseminated to communities of interest? Results have been preseneted to lay producers groups through field days, presentation of results online, and through producer publications. Results have been presented to research professionals through scientific meetings. What do you plan to do during the next reporting period to accomplish the goals? Nothing Reported

PROGRESS: 2011/10/01 TO 2012/09/30
OUTPUTS: For Objective 1, an evaluation of timed aritifical insemination vs. natural breeding in May calving calves was conducted, evaluating calf performance through the backgrounding phase. For Objective 2, arginine supplementation during early pregnancy was evaluated in fall lambing ewes, evaluating its effect on embryonic death loss and lambing %. Dissemination activites included the HREC Beef Research Review, a day long workshop with several speakers providing information about beef cattle research and production practices, as well as a Beginners Sheep School, Lamb Finishing School, and numerous individual contacts with beef and sheep producers relating the results of research projects. PARTICIPANTS: Christopher Schauer (PI) coordinated research efforts, managed HREC staff, and trained graduate students for data collection. Carl Dahlen (Co-PI) assisted in trial design and data collection. Three HREC staff and 2 graduate students participated in data collection. Two summer technicians (high school) assisted in data collection. TARGET AUDIENCES: Field day information was designed for a target audience of livestock producers, feed company representatives, and support industries for livestock producers. PROJECT MODIFICATIONS: Nothing significant to report during this reporting period. PROGRESS: 2011/10/01 TO 2012/09/30
OUTPUTS: For Objective 1, an evaluation of timed aritifical insemination vs. natural breeding in May calving calves was conducted, evaluating calf performance through the backgrounding phase. For Objective 2, arginine supplementation during early pregnancy was evaluated in fall lambing ewes, evaluating its effect on embryonic death loss and lambing %. Dissemination activites included the HREC Beef Research Review, a day long workshop with several speakers providing information about beef cattle research and production practices, as well as a Beginners Sheep School, Lamb Finishing School, and numerous individual contacts with beef and sheep producers relating the results of research projects. PARTICIPANTS: Christopher Schauer (PI) coordinated research efforts, managed HREC staff, and trained graduate students for data collection. Carl Dahlen (Co-PI) assisted in trial design and data collection. Three HREC staff and 2 graduate students participated in data collection. Two summer technicians (high school) assisted in data collection. TARGET AUDIENCES: Field day information was designed for a target audience of livestock producers, feed company representatives, and support industries for livestock producers. PROJECT MODIFICATIONS: Nothing significant to report during this reporting period.

PROGRESS: 2010/10/01 TO 2011/09/30
OUTPUTS: Activities: Under objective one of the project, investigate alternative production methods for growing calves and lambs, an evaluation of calf weaning methods study was conducted. Two weaning methods were evaluated, a traditional method and a two-step weaning using anti-suckling nose tags. Under objective two, evaluate effects of alternative feedstuffs in growing and finishing diets on calf and lamb growth performance and meat quality characteristics, a study was completed evaluating the level of dried distillers grains with solubles on feedlot performance, carcass quality, blood metabolites and semen quality of growing rams. Rams were fed one of three rations including no distillers grains or a ration with either fifteen percent or thirty percent distillers grains. Dissemination activities included the HREC Beef Research Review Day, a day long workshop with several speakers providing information about results from this work and other beef related information and numerous individual contacts with beef and sheep producers relating the results and conclusions of this project. PARTICIPANTS: Nothing significant to report during this reporting period. TARGET AUDIENCES: Nothing significant to report during this reporting period. PROJECT MODIFICATIONS: Nothing significant to report during this reporting period.

PROGRESS: 2010/10/01 TO 2011/09/30
OUTPUTS: Activities: Under objective one of the project, investigate alternative production methods for growing calves and lambs, an evaluation of calf weaning methods study was conducted. Two weaning methods were evaluated, a traditional method and a two-step weaning using anti-suckling nose tags. Under objective two, evaluate effects of alternative feedstuffs in growing and finishing diets on calf and lamb growth performance and meat quality characteristics, a study was completed evaluating the level of dried distillers grains with solubles on feedlot performance, carcass quality, blood metabolites and semen quality of growing rams. Rams were fed one of three rations including no distillers grains or a ration with either fifteen percent or thirty percent distillers grains. Dissemination activities included the HREC Beef Research Review Day, a day long workshop with several speakers providing information about results from this work and other beef related information and numerous individual contacts with beef and sheep producers relating the results and conclusions of this project. PARTICIPANTS: Nothing significant to report during this reporting period. TARGET AUDIENCES: Nothing significant to report during this reporting period. PROJECT MODIFICATIONS: Nothing significant to report during this reporting period.

Funding Source
Nat'l. Inst. of Food and Agriculture
Project source
View this project
Project number
ND06274
Accession number
223949
Categories
Antimicrobial Resistance