Innovative Livestock Services, Inc.
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Tuesday, April 10 2018 7:00 AM
By Anne Burkholder

What do cattle eat? Dr. Todd Milton and Cattle Nutrition 101…


Did you know that beef farmers use nutritionists to help them to take care of their animals?

These nutritionists have a specialized graduate level education that covers the microbiology, biochemistry, and metabolism of ruminant animals (animals such as cattle that have 4 compartment stomachs). Cattle nutritionists perform many of the same duties as a human nutritionist: caring for overall digestive health as well as balancing diets for caloric intake, protein and trace minerals. They help to lead our cattle feeding teams, ensuring that our animals remain healthy and efficiently utilize the feed resources grown on our farms.

Today, we spend a moment with Dr. Todd Milton (a ruminate nutritionist) to learn more about what cattle eat and how we care for the nutritional needs of the animals in our feed yards.



√ Question: What is your role on the feed yard team?

√ Answer: Dr. Todd: I see my job as a cattle nutritionist as having two main components.

 I use my doctorate training to formulate diets for the cattle as well as to oversee the technological tools that we use to batch and mix the cattle casseroles that we serve to our animals. Cattle diets are created using locally available feed ingredients, and our goal is to maintain good animal health while implementing environmentally friendly feeding practices to deliver balanced and nutritious feed three times per day to the animals.

I use my mind and my heart to coach my team. Gathering local feed ingredients, formulating rations, and checking feed mixing machines provide the recipe for good cattle nutrition. But, it is the people that care for the cattle that determine our success. I spend a lot of time training my feed yard crews – teaching them the needed skills to consistently and carefully deliver the daily feed to the cattle. As I train, I also coach and motivate the team to work together with passion and dedication. It is our God-given responsibility to take good care of our cattle; and, as a coach, my role is to mentor and inspire my team members.

√ Question: How do you determine what types of feed to give to the cattle? What does it mean to formulate a ration?

√ Answer: Dr. Todd: The availability of locally grown feed dictates the main components of a cattle ration (casserole). It is a combination of grain (usually corn in Kansas and Nebraska), by products (a variety of leftovers after the main crop harvest), and forage (grasses and roughage). Steam flaking the corn allows for the best ruminant digestion and provides an important staple as a feed ingredient because it has a very high level of energy per pound of feed. It also allows the beef to have a tender and flavorful taste. We blend the flaked corn with by products like wet distillers grains, and forage like alfalfa and prairie hay (grass). Formulating a ration means that I balance the different feed ingredients to provide a healthy and nutritious mix of feed for the cattle. Cattle, like all animals including humans, have specific daily nutrient requirements.  Our rations are formulated to meet each of those nutrient requirements on a daily basis from the largest nutrient requirements like energy and protein right down to the smallest trace minerals measured in parts per million.

                                                                                           Complete Ration (casserole) ready for the cattle to eat!

√ Question: What role does the Progressive Beef Quality Management System play as you and your teams take care of the nutritional needs of the cattle?

√ Answer: Dr. Todd: Progressive Beef holds all of us accountable as we strive to build a culture of excellence. It raises the level of education and training for the cattle feeding crews. This training allows for the crews to be successful because they have a high understanding of what they need to do to keep cattle comfortable and healthy. The Progressive Beef program sets high standards for animal care, food safety and sustainability. The auditing cycle holds all of us accountable in our daily animal care chores, as well as certifying to our beef customers that we raise beef with integrity.

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Innovative Livestock Services, Inc.

Innovative Livestock Services

2006 Broadway Avenue
Great Bend, KS 67530

(620) 793-9200

4805 Vue du Lac
Manhattan, KS 66503

(785) 587-9700

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