Exploring sustainable cattle feeding with alternative feedstuffs

USAgNet - 01/18/2024

In the realm of cattle feeding, the concept of 'alternative feedstuffs' is gaining attention, especially for its sustainability and cost-effectiveness.

Justin Waggoner, a beef specialist at K-State Research and Extension, highlights the use of unconventional feeds like soybean hay, often overlooked due to its primary use as grain. The recent drought conditions have prompted cattle producers to explore such alternatives.

Waggoner points out that this category encompasses a wide range of products, including cereal breakfast products, chili pepper and salsa waste from factories, and even nut hulls. Understanding the production process, including any chemicals or artifacts involved, is crucial when considering these feed options.

Logistics play a significant role in selecting alternative feedstuffs. Factors such as delivery costs, storage, and handling must be evaluated. Waggoner cites an instance where a producer considered using cull to produce waste from grocery stores, which required consideration of storage and volume management.

Packaging removal and its impact on the environment are also critical considerations. Geography, too, influences the availability of these feedstuffs, as many are region-specific. For instance, poultry litter is a regional feedstuff available to some Kansas cattle producers.

Waggoner emphasizes the importance of a comprehensive analysis of these alternative feedstuffs, including macro and micro minerals. In some cases, heavy metals have been detected, likely a byproduct of the production process.

He advises cattle producers interested in alternative feedstuffs to consult with local extension agents or nutritionists who can guide them in evaluating these products effectively. This approach ensures that cattle feeding is not only cost-effective but also environmentally sustainable and nutritionally adequate.

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