AGRICULTURAL RESEARCH AND EDUCATION CENTER
BELLE GLADE, FLORIDA
MIMEO REPORT EV71-13 OCTOBER, 1971
EFFECT OF PROTEIN LEVEL AND FEEDING FREQUENCY OF SUPPLEMENTS ON
PERFORMANCE OF STOCKER STEERS WVINTERED ON EVERGLADES PASTURES
F. M. Pate and J. R. Crockett Y
Studies conducted at the Everglades Station in the early sixties (2)
showed that marginal returns could be realized from supplementing stocker
steers with limited quantities of concentrate during the winter and early
spring. More recent studies (unpublished data) have demonstrated that con-
tinuous supplementation of steers from weaning to feedlot weights resulted
in increased cost of gain which was directly proportional to the amount of
supplement fed. If supplementation of stocker steers is to be economically
feasible all possible avenues of reducing its cost must be utilized.
High ration cost is the principle factor deterimental to returns from
supplementation, particularly insouth Florida where feed prices are exaggerated
by shipping costs. One of the more expensive additions to a supplement is
the protein concentrate. In two feeding trials Kidder and Beardsley (3)
demonstrated that during the spring St. Augustinegrass supplied sufficient
protein to grazing steers to balance a daily ration containing five pounds
of carbohydrate supplement, but a third trial showed a reverse trend. Later
studied led Chapman et. al. (1) to conclude that steers fed limited quantities
of carbohydrate supplement (approximately 1% of their body weight per day)
during the fall and winter would benefit from additional protein in the
ration. Of lesser importance than ration cost, but becoming increasingly
significant, is labor expense. In the study reported herein supplementation
costs were reduced by deleting costly protein concentrates from the supple-
mental ration and reducing feeding frequency from daily to once every
third day. The objectives were to determine the effect of these changes
on animal performance lj prPCtin L --
Eighty grade cros bred wai steers of H reford, Angus, and Brahman
breeding (more than 50 Britis) ani averaging 46 pounds were randomly
divided according to w eight into four treatment groups of 20 steers each.
Each group was placed (n..* 9A. FJR'VJP ROi f. Augustingrass pasture,
resulting in a stocking rte oAf s re. The experimental
treatments were differentiated by the protein level and feeding frequency of
a concentrate supplement as shown in the following outline:
1/ Assistant Professor (Assistant Animal Nutritionist) and Associate
Professor (Associate Animal Geneticist), respectively, Agricultural
Research and Education Center, Belle Glade, Florida 33430.
Treatment 1 High-protein supplement, fed daily.
Treatment 2 High-protein supplement, fed every third day.
Treatment 3 Low-protein supplement, fed daily.
Treatment 4 Low-protein supplement, fed every third day.
The low-protein supplement was obtained by replacing the cottonseed meal in the
high-protein ration with equal parts of snapped corn and citrus pulp (Table 1).
Steers were supplemented at a rate of 1% of their body weight per day for
224 days (October 7, 1970 to May 18, 1971). Steers remained on pasture for an
additional 112 days without supplement to determine if treatment affected sub-
Calves were preconditioned to concentrate feeding during a two week
period immediately prior to the start of the experiment. During the study
steers were individually weighted every 28 days and feed adjustments were made
to conform to this weight until the next weight period. To minimize pasture
differences treatment groups were systematically rotated among pastures
after each weigh period. While on pasture, calves had access to a salt-trace
mineral mix 2/ supplied free-choice.
Supplements were sampled weekly and St. Augustinegrass pasture every 28
days for crude protein and dry matter determinations. Animal performance
data collected included average daily gain and supplement intake. Returns
over feed cost were calculated in order to make economical comparisons between
Results and Discussion
The effects of protein level and feeding frequency on animals performance
are presented in Table 2. During the supplementation period steers fed the
low-protein supplement daily performed equally well to those fed the high-
protein supplement daily. The crude protein level of the St. Augustinegrass
grazed averaged 14.2% (dry matter basis) and ranged from 12.1% in February to
17.4% in May. These protein levels are relatively high when considering the
energetic value (55 to 60% TDN) of this forage. Similar energy-protein relation-
ships exist for most forages grown in the Everglades area. These performance
and analytical data support earlier observations that St. Augustinegrass supplies
more than adequate amounts of protein to grazing steers. In this study the
protein obtained from the forage, even during the winter months, was sufficient
to balance a daily ration containing a carbohydrate supplement fed at 1% of
the body weight. Forage availability was quite adequate throughout most of
this experiment, although there were indications that the low-protein supple-
ment contained insufficient protein during periods of poor forage growth. The
2/ Mixture contained 40.0% defluorinated phosphate, 22.5% steamed bonemeal, 20.0%
salt, 1.0% red oxide of iron, 3.2% copper sulfate, 0.15% cobalt sulfate, 7.5%
molasses, and 5.65% cotton seed meal.
largest difference in 28-day weight gains (Figure 1) between steers fed the
two supplements occurred during January when forage production was most restricted
by cold weather. In cases where forage availability is low, growing cattle are
more dependent on the supplement which should contain adequate protein. There-
fore, when formulating a supplement for steers on pasture, the quantity of
forage available, as well as its quality, must be accurately evaluated.
An interesting, though unexplainable result was the higher weight gain
of stoors fed the high-protein supplement every third day than that of steers
fed the same ration daily. On the contrary, steers fed the low-protein mix
every third day gained less weight during the supplemental period of any treat-
ment studied. The poorer performance by calves in the latter treatment was
likely due to an inconsistent supply of energy and protein in proper balance.
The supplement was consumed within 24 hours after feeding, therefore forage
intake would have been minimal causing the total ration to be low in protein.
During the remaining two days feed intake was entirely from forage which con-
tained sufficient protein but was lower in energy than the supplement. The
poorer weight gains by steers in this treatment occurred primarily during the
During the post supplementation period, differences in weight gains
between treatments were not extensive. Steers previously fed the low-protein
supplement every third day made the highest average gain, but, the average gain
by steers previously fed the high-protein mix every third day was only
An economic evaluation (Table 2) showed that when the supplements were
fed daily, returns over feed cost favored steers fed the one lower in protein.
This can be attributed to a lower feed cost obtained by deleting the cotton-
seed meal. Steers fed the high-protein supplement every third day had the
highest returns of any treatment. Although supplemental feed cost for these
steers were higher than the other groups, this was offset by a larger increase
in steer value resulting from superior animal performance. The lowest returns
were from steers fed the low-protein supplement every third day, due to the
poorer performance of these animals.
Labor costs were not estimated, however, it is obvious that labor expenses
would be substantially reduced if the supplementation interval was changed
from daily to once every third day. Such a feeding schedule could be slightly
altered to eliminate week-end feeding. This study indicates that a high-
protein supplement has advantages over one low in protein if a three-day
feeding schedule is followed. Perhaps a three-day feeding interval using a
high-protein supplement during periods of reduced forage output or an inter-
mediate-protein supplement entirely could be followed to reduce feed and labor
costs without influencing animal performance.
An experiment was conducted to study the effect of protein level and
feeding frequency of a concentrate supplement on the performance of yearling
crossbred steers grazing Roselawn St. Augustinegrass during the winter and
spring. Four treatments (20 steers each) were used which involved feeding
a high-protein (13.8%) and a low-protein (7.6%) supplement either daily or
every third day. The low-protein mix was formulated by replacing the cotton-
seed meal (17.95%) in the high-protein supplement with equal parts of snapped
corn and citrus pulp. Steers were supplemented at a rate of 1% of their
body weight per day for 224 days and remained on pasture without supplement
for another 112 days.
The performance by steers fed the low-protein supplement daily equalled
that of steers fed the high-protein supplement daily. This resulted in a
higher return over feed cost made possible by the lower cost of the low-protein
ration. Weight gains by steers fed the high-protein supplement every third
day was superior to those fed the same ration daily. This improved perfor-
mance resulted in a higher return over feed cost in addition to labor savings
which would be realized from the increased feeding interval. Steers fed the low-
protein supplement every third day gained the least of any treatment and showed
the lowest return over feed cost. Results of this study suggest that when a
low-protein ration is fed, close attention must be paid to forage quality and
quantity, particularly when the feeding interval is increased beyond 24 hours.
1. Chapman, H. L., Jr., R. W. Kidder and S. W. Plank, 1953. Comparative
feeding value of citrus molasses, cane molasses, ground snapped
corn and dried citrus pulp for fattening steers on pasture.
Fla. Agri. Exp. Sta. Bull 531.
2. Haines, C. E., H. L. Chapman, JR., R. W. Kidder and R. E. L. Greene.
1965. Effects of feeding limited amounts of concentrate to
stocker steers on pasture. Fla. Agri. Exp. Sta. Bull 693.
3. Kidder, R. W. and D.
Agri. Exp. Sta.
W. Beardsley. 1952. Protein and carbohydrate
fattening steers on Everglades pastures. Fla.
Table 1. Composition, analyses, and cost of supplements fed.
Item supplement supplement
Ground snapped corn 36.50 45.50
Dried citrus pulp 36.50 45.45
Cottonseed meal (41 %) 17.95 ---
Molasses 7.50 7.50
Mineral mix / 1.50 1.50
Vitamin A (10,000 IU/g) 0.05 0.05
Dry matter (%) 87.53 87.08
Crude protein (%) 13.57 7.61
Cost per ton ($) / 72.34 66.19
1/ See footnote 2 of text.
-/ Supplement cost was calculated from actual purchase price of ingredients
plus $8.00/ton mixing fee. Ingredient prices per ton were: $66.65, ground
snapped corn; $52.65, dried citrus pulp; $93.95, cottonseed meal; $26.75,
molasses; and $108.00, mineral mix. Vitamin A premix cost $0.30/pound.
Table 2. Average performance and economic date of steers fed supplements varying
in protein level and feeding frequency.
Number of steers
Initial weight, lbs.
gain (224 days), lbs. 253
gain (112 days), Ibs. 93
(336 days), lbs. 346
Supplement fed, lbs. 1233
Increase in steer value, $ 68.80
Supplemental feed cost, $ 44.60
Return over feed cost, $ 24.20
2 3 4
High-protein, Low-protein, Low-protein
3-day daily 3-day
SThe purchase price of steers was figured
price at $28.00 per cwt.
at $34.00 per cwt and the selling
Twenty-eight day weight gains of steers fed high and low-
protein supplements at 1 and 3 day intervals.
I, - -N
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M 10 M \V
Low-protein, 3-day \ L .
\O M r( N N ( N N N CO