Using New Software to Help Beef Cattle Producers Formulate Rations

Russ Bredahl, beef forage field specialist

Situation
The Iowa Beef Center released beef ration and nutrition decisions software (BRaNDS) for use by extension livestock specialists in December 2003. The specialists were involved in testing the new software before its release to the general public. The new software was especially timely because drought had left many cattle producers short of hay going into the winter. To supplement the meager hay supply, many producers had harvested poor quality roughages they ordinarily wouldn't feed. They were wanting information to properly supplement these poor quality feedstuffs.

Response
News articles in printed media were used to alert beef cattle producers about the new software and how it could help solve some of the feeding problems posed by the drought. Appointments were scheduled with producers that requested assistance. They were encouraged to bring forage test results if they had tested their forages. The producers and specialists worked together with the software to generate rations that were appropriate for the producers, animals, and feedstuffs.

Impact
During the month of January 2004:

Six producers with 330 cows learned how to supplement poor quality feedstuffs to stretch their limited supplies of hay.

Two producers developed detailed feeding plans to develop replacement heifers. One of the two intended to develop 300 heifers and wanted not only balanced rations but a very close approximation of the total amount of feed that would be required.

Four producers obtained rations for feedlot cattle. Two were cattle finishers (270 head between the two) and two were growing cattle in the feedlot.
BRaNDS software is now available to be purchased by the general public and several producers have asked for information on how to order it.

Page last updated: July 8, 2006
Page maintained by Linda Schultz, lschultz@iastate.edu