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Because feed accounts for a significant portion of operating costs, cattlemen are always interested in getting the most out of the supplemental feed dollar. Two unwanted costs are the costs of overfeeding and the lost opportunities resulting from underfeeding.
Three keys to more efficient supplementation are (1) identifying the most appropriate supplement, (2) determining the proper amount of feed, and (3) identifying the window of opportunity for achieving the desired changes with the minimal feed input. In order to adjust a feeding program, one needs to have an estimate of the nutrient value for the forage being consumed, current cattle condition (or performance), and a performance objective for the cattle. So in order to determine when to supplement, we need to evaluate the cattle and the forage. Forage evaluation costs money and time, but the expense may be necessary to develop a better system of management. In the long run, this should improve feeding practices and hopefully optimize cattle performance.