In the vast plains of North Central Texas, where cows graze in pastures designed for hundreds at one time, making sure the land is fully utilized is a top priority. It is also critical for those cows to have a high-quality nutrition program in place as they spread out and graze the native grasses. The historic Four Sixes Ranch near Guthrie, Texas, ensures its Angus-based cow herd is getting the best mineral package while grazing the resources available to them.
“With the VitaFerm® Concept•Aid® Protein Tubs, we have the ability to get a good mineral package in those cows,” said Joe Leathers, Ranch Manager at the Four Sixes.
In addition to the vitamin and mineral package, the 200-pound tubs contain 20-percent natural protein. Protein is one of the most vital nutrients in the cow’s diet and has an impact on all other nutrient absorption. Protein, along with energy, has a tremendous impact on growth, reproduction and overall performance.
Forage utilization is vital to the ranch that depends on the grasses when feeding nearly 7,000 cows. That is just one reason keeping them spread out is important. Amaferm®, the key ingredient in every VitaFerm product, will also help the cattle get the most benefit from the forages. Amaferm is a precision prebiotic designed to enhance digestibility by amplifying the nutrient supply within for maximum performance. Amaferm naturally increases intake, digestibility and absorption. It is research-proven to increase the energy available to the animal resulting in more milk production as well as to the ability to initiate and maintain pregnancy and fertility.
“We have fed cubes for years and years, and I liked that because we can see the cattle well. But it causes the cattle to bunch up, and they don’t utilize the country well. By using the tubs, we are able to keep our cows scattered out and use a lot more of the country through the winter than they normally do,” Leathers said.
He added that on their Texas ranches, they keep the Concept•Aid Protein Tubs out year-round. He’s found that the cows appear healthier. He said the red tint that Angus cattle sometimes get in their hair coat isn’t present, and the mineral just changes their look for the better. Even though the Concept•Aid is specially formulated to promote fertility and reproductive success when fed to cows 60-days pre-calving to 60 days post-breeding, Leathers said the ranch never did have any reproductive challenges. They use bulls to naturally breed all of their cows and have always had at least a 95-percent conception rate.
Perhaps one of the biggest advantages Leathers sees in feeding the Concept•Aid Protein Tubs, is that not only do the cows benefit from the nutritional safety net it provides when forage quality is lower, but their calves start consuming the mineral while they are still nursing.
“As the green grass comes, the cows pretty much quit the protein tubs, but as their calves get up to a certain size, I’ll see a lot of calves licking on those tubs. As the grass cures out and the cows aren’t getting quite what they need out of the grass, they will start hitting those tubs again. It’s just worked into a good program. It’s helped our calves get a little better bloom on them and I also think it gets a good mineral package in those calves which helps them wean off healthier
At the Four Sixes, good nutrition starts with the mama cow, and is passed on to the calf. And the calf gets some of that same nutrition in the mineral package that the ranch offers its females. Nutritional benefits play an important role in forage utilization and cow herd longevity, and both of those are pivotal to the historic Texas ranch.