Parsons, Kansas —
Drought conditions gave way to significant rainfall over much of Oklahoma and surrounding regions this spring, leading some producers to wonder whether or not they need to alter their Oklahoma Gold and SuperGold cattle feeding programs.
“The short answer is no; cattle producers in Oklahoma and many areas of the region should be right on schedule for getting the most out of both programs,” said Chris Richards, Oklahoma State University Cooperative Extension beef cattle nutrition specialist.
Lightweight calves that weigh about 400 pounds or less, or cattle with limited forage, should use the SuperGold program now. Animals weighing 600 pounds or more with adequate available forage should be on the Oklahoma Gold program in late June and no later than July 1.
While improved forage conditions caused by recent rainfall are most definitely a benefit to producers, it can lead to some head-scratching when it comes to determining appropriate stocking rates and forage quality.
Economically, grazed forage is an inexpensive feed source for cattle and the producer needs a balanced management approach to maximize use of available forage yet allow for pasture recovery, with an emphasis on promoting sustainable operational efficiency.
“With rapid growth from recent rains combined with stocking at recommended reduced rates to allow for drought recovery, forage in the pasture will accumulate as summer progresses,” Richards said. “It’s important to remember that while abundant forage may be available, the protein and digestibility of available forage will decrease significantly as the plants mature.”
Developed by scientists with OSU’s Division of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources, the Oklahoma Gold and SuperGold programs make cattle eat more forage and use it for positive body condition, growth and health functions. Furthermore, the programs represent a well-planned protein plan to offset deficiencies caused by decreases in forage quality.
The Oklahoma Gold program uses a low-quantity, high-protein supplement with an ionophore to promote efficient gains on summer grass.
In several OSU research trials conducted with mid-summer harvested prairie hay, forage intake has been increased by 20 percent to 30 percent while digestibility improved by 15 percent to 20 percent when cattle were fed one pound of a 38 percent to 41 percent protein supplement.
“Assuming an increase in gain of 0.6 pounds per day from the Oklahoma Gold programs, and an average value of gain of 80 cents, the total increase in revenue would be 48 cents per day,” Richards said.
Recent research conducted by scientists with OSU’s department of animal science demonstrated that use of byproducts such as dried distillers grains can provide the protein in the supplement programs that were originally developed with protein meals from cotton seed and soybeans.
“The ionophore is an essential component of the program as it increases cattle’s ability to process forage, adding about 0.2 pounds per day in additional gain above protein supplement alone when animals graze dry, summer native range,” Richards said.
With a cost of 18 cents for the one pound of supplement at recommended rates, the added income from the Oklahoma Gold program would be 30 cents per head per day.
“When grazing adequate quantities of forage, the Oklahoma Gold program generates an excellent return on investment,” Richards said. “A sound health program, external and internal parasite control and a growth promoting implant program will further enhance animal performance and efficiency of forage utilization.”
The SuperGold program puts 1.5 pounds of wheat midds on top of a pound of Gold feed, resulting in 2.5 pounds of supplement that is 25 percent protein.
“While Oklahoma Gold can’t be beat for efficiency, SuperGold targets cattle that need the extra feed energy or have more limited forage resources,” Richards said.
Cattle and calves represent the number one agricultural commodity produced in Oklahoma, accounting for 46 percent of total agricultural cash receipts, according to National Agricultural Statistics Service data. £