Supplemental Stocker Feeding Can Be Beneficial

Supplemental feeding can be beneficial for stockers grazing summer pastures – sometimes.

Research indicated supplementation can be used to replace nitrogen fertilizers, but the best program depended on the economic relationship between the value of the calf’s gain and the cost of the inputs like fertilizer and feed supplements, said Paul Beck, associate professor of animal and food sciences, Oklahoma State University, in a letter to Extension agents and shared with this newsletter in an email.




Gains from grazing summer pasture in Oklahoma often do not meet expectations, and a ‘Summer Slump’ is associated with seasonal declines in forage quality.

In western Oklahoma, supplemental extruded cubes from dried distiller’s grains that are moderate in crude protein and high in energy were fed only during late summer at 2 to 2.5 pounds a day to steers stocked at the economically optimal stocking rate or were fed all summer at 0.75% of bodyweight with stocking rates increased by 1/3.

This is the second year of this research, the initial year was normal to above-normal in rainfall, this year had below-normal rainfall.  But, similar to 2019, supplementation during the late summer at the economically optimal stocking rate increased daily gains by 1.8 to 2.9 pounds and per-acre production by 13 pounds.

Feeding supplements all summer to calves with increased stocking rates also increased daily gains.  Per-acre gain was doubled by increasing stocking rates and feeding higher rates of supplements and increased per-acre gain by 65% to 74% compared with only supplementing during the late summer at normal stocking rates.




At the Eastern Research Station, steers grazed fertilized bermudagrass pastures with no supplement; fertilized pastures with supplemental distillers grains cubes at two pounds a day all summer; or supplemental DDGS at 0.75% body weight per day on unfertilized pastures to replace nitrogen fertilizer.

Supplemented steers gained 0.55 pound a day more than controls throughout the summer for Fertilizer/Supplement and No-Fertilizer/Supplement.

Finally, a trial using steers grazing bermudagrass was conducted to determine gain response to self-fed or hand-fed summer supplementation programs.  This research included a control where only free-choice mineral was provided; a hand-fed distiller’s grains cube fed at 2.5 pounds a day either all summer or only late summer; or a self-fed molasses-based tub supplement offered either all summer or late summer.

Supplementation during the early summer did not increase performance, but during the late summer the hand fed distiller’s grains supplement increased average daily gains by 0.5 pound.  The self-fed molasses-based tub did not improve average daily gains.




The USDA reported formula and contract base prices for live FOB steers and heifers last week ranged from $122.43 to $127.40 per cwt, compared with last week’s weekly range of $126.96 to $127.03.  FOB dressed steers and heifers went for $192.44 to $202.64 per cwt, versus $200.18 to $201.30.

The USDA choice cutout Monday was down $1.23 per cwt at $335.19, while select was down $2.23 at $301.90.  The choice/select spread widened to $33.29 from $32.29 with 65 loads of fabricated product and 44 loads of trimmings and grinds sold into the spot market.

The USDA reported Monday that basis bids for corn from livestock feeding operations in the Southern Plains were down $0.05 to up $0.15 at $1.75 to $1.95 a bushel over the Sep futures and for southwest Kansas were unchanged at $0.40 over Sep, which settled at $4.95 3/4 a bushel, down $0.12 1/4.

The CME Feeder Cattle Index for the seven days ended Monday was $157.37 per cwt up $0.20.  This compares with Tuesday’s Sep contract settlement of $156.27 per cwt, down $2.20.