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  • Jess Bennett, Farmacist Extension Agronomist

Managing microbes for better beef

What's in front of your cattle is an important factor in managing your herd, but more important is what's working inside them. Rumen microbes are one of the biggest players in determining the herds ability to maintain, grow, reproduce, and lactate. In just 1 millilitre of rumen fluid, there are around 100 billion bacteria, 10 million protozoa and 10,000 fungi. That's a lot of bugs!

What are we talking about?

Have you ever bought cattle from a saleyard or gone through the weaning process and been surprised that after two months they are gaining little weight? It’s a common experience that is explained by the microbes. If an animal's diet is abruptly changed or they are placed on a low-quality diet that does not meet their intake requirements, the pH of their rumen will change, resulting in a rapid decline in the microbes in their gut.

When an animal is denied food for just 24 hours, its rumen microbes are halved! It takes up to 4 weeks to regain its microbe population. If an animal is without feed for 48 hours, its microbe population plunges further, and it will take about 8 weeks to recover. It takes 10 days for the gut microbes to adjust to a diet change.

Let's talk weaners!

Weaning calves is an important developmental stage that sets the stage for how animals will grow for the rest of their lives. During weaning, rumen microbes increase diversity and numbers at the fastest rate. To compensate for the lack of milk, weaners require a diet that is high in protein and energy to support rumen development. Feeding poor quality hay to weaners will restrict microbe diversity, limit rumen development and hold back animal growth.

This is an extract from the full article that was published in the Winter 2023 issue of Farmacist News. To read the full article, download the printable version using the link below:

Managing microbes for better beef 2023 Winter (MAY) Newsletter
Download PDF • 2.78MB


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