American beef producers are improving their herd's reproductive traits and increasing weaning weights by changing a small part of their nutritional programs.
Hubbard Feeds senior beef nutritionist Dr Tyler Melroe, part of Alltech's Feed Division, was among the speakers at this week's Alltech One Virtual Experience delivering agricultural presentations to more than 21,500 attendees from 126 countries.
On the topic of beef nutrition Dr Melroe discussed findings from Blueprint; a nutritional philosophy applied to Alltech's products and product lines.
In the last two years producers have improved the health and fertility of their herd by challenging the standards of their National Research Council and replace inorganic minerals with lower levels of minerals like bioplex and sel-plex.
Research from the University of Florida found heifers reached puberty nine days earlier in the first day and 41 days earlier by the second year while confirmed pregnancy was eight days earlier in year one and 18 days earlier in year two.
Their research also found weaning weights over a two year period improved by 24 pounds (10.8 kilograms) on average while Missouri trials also noticed increases of 26 pounds (11.7kg) and in South Dakota it was nearly a 15 pound (6.8kg) improvement.
Blueprint clients across the country reported their heaviest calves ever with less vet expenses, decreases in pink eye and improved conception rates.
This was all during seasons that were described by Dr Melrose as producing the largest amount of health issues he had seen in his entire career.
Dr Melroe said Blueprint showcased how a simple idea could be turned into something valuable for producers.
"Blueprint is something that again was a relatively unknown concept, it brought in this idea of fetal programming or the fact that we are impacting the way particular genes are being expressed," he said.
"There really is an idea here and a way of setting up cattle for more success in life."
He noted that Blueprint offered producers benefits they could notice first hand and showcased the need to stay on a positive plane of nutrition.
"We have simply improved the way this animal can utilise the diet it is consuming," he said.
"We understood that those trace mineral sources were more available to the animal and that we have an opportunity to at least maintain but in fact hopefully improve performance of the animals that we're blessed to have a chance to feed.
"We were used to this traditional model of using the NRC as our foundation for setting up the trace mineral levels that we were trying to feed the animal."
Piecing minerals into nutrition puzzle
Trace minerals are an important part of livestock nutrition but CopRice nutritionist Nicole Logg said producers shouldn't forget the bigger picture.
Australian producers have become more aware of stock nutrition following prolonged drought, forced to supplement breeders and offspring on a permanent basis. Mrs Logg said it was much more important to supply the optimum energy and body condition requirements before worrying about specific minerals.
"When you look at nutrition you have got to look at the big things first so are they in the right condition? Are we giving them enough energy first?" Mrs Logg said.
"You have really got to tick off your energy, protein, your big micro minerals, your calcium, phosphorus, magnesium and then the trace elements.
"They are all a part of it and they are different sized holes in the bucket. Your energy is a big hole whereas your trace minerals are a small hole but they are still important and you are leaking production if you are not meeting those requirements as well."
Lifting body condition would have a bigger impact on the reproduction and growth of stock over organic selenium, she said.
"Energy and body condition are your big drivers," she said. "Of course minerals are important and I like to include them particularly in breeder diets whether they are sheep or cows for those reasons but it is complementary. It's part of the jigsaw."