Use of Blocks and Tubs During Winter Feeding
Dr. Mario A. Villarino, CEA Hopkins County.
A common way to provide feed supplementation to cattle during the winter is the use of concentrated blocks or tubs, designed to provide protein or energy to winter diets. To help understand better the use of block or tubs, Dr. Rick Machen, Texas A&M AgriLife Extension beef specialist indicates: “Block supplements are a convenient mechanism for delivering supplemental nutrients
to grazing beef cattle. As the labels on most blocks or tubs state, they are meant to be used as supplements, not feeds. Success or failure of a block/tub supplementation program will depend on the availability of forage. If forage is limited or of poor quality, self-fed blocks or tubs cannot make up the nutrient deficit and are not formulated to do so. Blocks and tubs have become increasingly popular because:
They are easy to store and handle.
They are easily accessible.
They require little labor.
Minimal equipment is required.
Consumption is self-limiting.
Blocks are particularly appealing to owners of the smallest herds of cattle (fewer than 50 cows) and owners of large operations of more than 300 cows. Many small producers have off-ranch employment and like the convenience and comfort of knowing supplement is continuously available. Large operators use blocks because they save time and labor. Read and follow label instructions.
Provide blocks or tubs as soon as protein or energy deficiency is suspected and before noticeable loss of body condition. Young cattle grazing mature forages may require continuous access, regardless of expected diet/forage quality.
Proper placement of the supplement in a pasture affects consumption. Cattle will visit more frequently and consume more of supplements placed near water or loafing areas. If consumption is lower than expected, increase the number of tubs. If aggressive animals dominate the tubs, spread the tubs out to discourage social interactions between competing animals. In large pastures, movement of supplements can influence grazing distribution. Moving blocks to ungrazed areas will encourage more uniform grazing distribution. Do not place blocks or tubs in riparian areas. Cattle tend to congregate around supplements. The resulting bare ground and animal waste could be a source of non-point
source water pollution. Do not locate tubs near surface water (ponds, streams or rivers). Cattle often push and play with empty tubs, which can float away“. For more information on this or any other agricultural topic please contact the Hopkins County Extension Office at 903-885-3443.
Upcoming events: Northeast Texas Cattleman’s Conference, January 30, 2013. Winnboro City Auditorium, 8:00 to 2:30 pm. Cost $15 meal included. Sponsored by Texas AgriLife Extension Service and NETBIO. Four CEU’s for Private Applicators. Call 903-885-3443 to register. For more information on this or any other agricultural topics please contact the Hopkins County Extension Office at 903-885-3443 or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Spring Pesticide Applicator Training and Exam, February 13, 2013 at 8:00 AM at the Hopkins County Extension Office, located at 1200B Houston Street in Sulphur Springs. $15 at the door. No lunch included. Call 903-885-3443 for more details.