Low Protein Forage Research
Protein frequently is the most limiting nutrient for cattle wintered on poor to moderate quality harvested forages, as well as for mature cows and growing cattle grazing dormant grass pastures and crop residues. Ample amounts of protein are required for cattle to efficiently harvest energy from forage-based feeds. This protein is needed to support a healthy, active population of fiber-digesting microorganisms in the stomach. Consequently, when dietary protein is limiting, fiber digestion is not optimal. Poor digestion results in inefficient energy use, and often decreases feed intake too. The combined effect of these factors is a significant decrease in overall energy balance for the animal. This can limit growth rate of young animals or lead to poor body condition scores in reproducing cows and heifers.