Total Mixed Rations (TMR) are a common component of dairy cattle rations, but are there circumstances where TMR are worth the cost to beef cattle producers?
Dr. Shane Gadberry, University of Arkansas Extension livestock nutrition specialist, told OFN a TMR can come into play with producers looking at a more confined cow/calf production system who are bringing in ingredients and not relying heavily upon grazing to maintain the cow herd.
“We are seeing some of those types of operations develop in the U.S., especially in some of the Western states that have dealt with drought,” Gadberry said. “In some cases somebody with feedlot facilities may start a confinement program for cow/calf production.”
In the Southern and Southeastern U.S., TMRs would fit best during the winter feeding period for cow/calf systems. Because of the additional cost of operating the grain mixing equipment, the Arkansas Extension recommends that producers invest in the land, improve the productivity of the forage and extend grazing in order to minimize the number of days that a TMR might have to be fed through winter.
Gadberry noted there are many producers who feed hay four to six months out of the year, and said some of them offset the cost of feeding a mixed ration by processing hay and blending it with off farm feedstuffs in order to reduce feed waste. “The cow has a more controlled feed-out so you know you’re putting out so many pounds per animal per day of a balanced ration, in comparison to just offering free choice hay and supplementing it,” Gadberry said.
Another scenario, which he said is not utilized as often but is an option for management, is using TMR as a component of programmed feeding. While Arkansas producers have looked at this option to deal with drought, it can also be a winter feeding option. Gadberry explained, “We are formulating a very nutrient dense diet and essentially limit-feeding that diet to provide the pounds of protein and total digestible nutrients (TDN) that those cows need on a daily basis. So, instead of eating 24-26 pounds under a free choice intake scenario, with a nutrient-dense TMR we can limit-feed those cows to where they may be consuming 12 to 16 pounds of feed, which would meet all of their nutrient needs.”
Andy McCorkill, regional livestock specialist with University of Missouri Extension, said that while a TMR mixer is too expensive for many cattlemen to economically justify, those who can will find the machine a good investment.
“They work quite well for situations where a lot of silage or some other form of wet feed is being utilized,” McCorkill said. “If you have a lot of low-quality, poor palatability type of feed that you want to get rid of, you can mix it in with better quality feed and reduce waste.”
The composition of the ration depends upon the requirements of the animal you’re feeding. A dairy cow in lactation is going to have a different ration than will a beef steer.
McCorkill noted that a TMR system allows the producer to use individual feed at different levels to develop a ration for different animals.
“If, for example, you have calves you are backgrounding and have several cows to boot, you can develop a ration for the calves, mix it to spec, feed it out, and come back to the mixing site and do it all over again with a different mix for the cows,” he said.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here