Beef cattle production systems often rely on forage-based diets, consisting of pasture, as a low cost and widely accessible method for feeding herds. Whilst there are financial and practical benefits to forage-based diets, it is important to note that seasonal variations in pasture availability and nutritive quality can impact cattle performance and nutrition. So, are there any solutions to this?
Feed additives are used as an important nutritional tool to enhance productivity and profitability of beef cattle systems. Additives can alter the microbiome of cattle stomachs, where plant fibers are incrementally broken down by fermentation into smaller and more digestible structures, and therefore can affect food digestibility and nutrient utilization. The majority of research into feed additives is focused on high-concentrate diets, comprised of concentrates and feeds with a high content of nutritional substances. There has been little research on feed additives and forage-based diets.
A recent study from The Journal of Animal Science hypothesized that foraged-based diets supplemented with one of three feed additives narasin, salinomycin, or flavomycin would impact nutrient digestibility, change fermentation parameters, and improve productivity in Nellore cattle. To test this hypothesis, the cattle were split into three groups, each being fed a forage-based diet supplemented with aa different feed additive for 140 days. The study found that narasin was the only feed additive that benefited performance and fermentation in Nellore cattle.
The study highlights the importance for beef producers to understand how feed additives can help optimize the diets of their cattle and improve performance. Explore the infographic below to find out more.