Some of you may know one of the hats I wear is Livestock Nutritionist, M.S. and all. I work part time for a local company out of Othello, WA. I (we) are blessed to have a boss/owner/manager (ok same person - Todd) who has allowed me to work part time almost exclusively from home so I can primarily wear my mom, wife & farm/ranch wife hats.
Anyway, when Todd calls and asks "Are you sitting down?" something is up. This week it has to do with a fire in Germany. If you weren't sure we were in a global marketplace this is one that leaves no doubt. A fire on the other side of the globe (in a BASF facility) = serious issues for Vitamin (A, D & E particularly) availability. So?
Go grab a feed, mineral or lick-tub tag. Likely there is some Vitamins A, D &/or E in there. Sorry to my pig & chicken guys, you are just going to have to swallow this very expensive pill until supply issues get straightened out (hopefully April'ish). Feeding ruminants? You may have some flexibility.
If this was the growing season I could almost blanket say (to my beef customers) pull the A, D & E and no one will notice. Green growing grass and cattle enjoying our 300+ days of sunshine have their needs met from what they eat and sun exposure (just like you and I). But, unfortunately it is the time of year I traditionally make sure we have A, D & E back in mixes. Dang it!! For a quick refresher on why we feed A, D & E click here.
First free choice mineral I priced with "new" vitamin prices saw a $200/ton increase! Ouch. What should you do?
#1) If you work with a nutritionist for your vitamin/mineral needs - call them!!
#2) Consider yourself warned if the local feed store has a serious price increase.
If you are my customer - I'll ask you questions. I prefer to answer questions with more questions (BTW I'm a horrible salesman; preferring to wear a consultant's hat).
Animals have some storage capability, so what did their diet look like Sept-November (green or brown/stored or fresh)? What do your cows traditionally eat December-February? If you came off of dry native pasture and headed to cornstalks you may still need to supplement A. Had irrigated pasture/crop regrowth and/or will be feeding 2017 hay (green)? You may be ok skipping A this winter.
Let's play weather forecaster. 😎⛅ Is December-February going to look like earlier this week or are our 60 days of not sun going to come in one horrible, dreary, foggy block (boo!)? If only I knew!
Refer to Vitamin A comments. Very similar conditions minus the storage capability.
Next is stage of production.
Dry cows not calving until May? Much more flexible. High-stress calves - yikes - may not want to mess with their diets! Remember we may feed higher levels (beyond basic requirements) of Vitamin E to animals in high stress conditions. This might be the year where you FINALLY try some of the feed supplements not fed generations ago. Yes, if you use the right pro-biotics and yeast products they really do work. Thought these options were expensive? Maybe not now compared to increased costs of those extra couple hundred units of Vitamin E!
If you are able to get different mineral mixes for different groups of cattle or one mix for December and a different one for the month/two weeks prior to calving, do it! Yes your nutritionist or mill manager might roll their eyes BUT we understand. Everyone's goal should be to get the animals what they need and still keep all of us in business.
Just in case you thought you had this livestock raising thing figured out......