When I get that call there is a short checklist of things I’ll go through with the customer.

1.     Water: While water isn’t the number one cause of show cattle going off feed it is one that’s easy to check. Water doesn’t just need to be available it needs to be fresh, cool, and clean. 

a.     Check the floats

b.     Is there manure in the water?

The short of it with water is if you wouldn’t drink it neither will they.

2.     Are they sick? Check the temperature and look at them are they snotty nosed, hanging an ear, lethargic? You need a good relationship with a local veterinarian to get them treated and back on the road to recovery.

3.     Did you screw up their feed?  That might sound a little harsh but if you haven’t screwed up feeding an animal you haven’t fed enough animals. It has happened to all of us. It doesn’t make us poor feeders but we do need to learn from it.

a.     Did you change feed too quickly?  Let’s say your steer is eating ½ Grower and ½ Finisher when your breeder stops by and says switch him to all finisher.  They don’t mean just switch over night. That’s a change you need to make gradually over a ten day to two-week period.

b.     We didn’t account for the difference in energy between feeds.  When we make that shift from ½ grower and ½ finisher to all finisher the energy of the diet on a per pound will also change. That means the volume of the feed will also change 2 ½ scoops of finisher may be equal to 3 scoops of the ½ and ½ feed on an energy basis. Feeding by dry matter weight is the best policy.

c.     Are you consistent? Imagine you stayed up late with your buddies and Dad didn’t want to deal with your grumpy butt that next morning so he brought your steer in and fed.  You finally drag your butt out of bed and feed again. He eats that night but not well and by the next morning he is completely off feed.  The very best feedyards we work with feed cattle within 10 minutes of the same time morning and night. You need to do the same I don’t care what time you feed but if 5 AM and 5PM is feeding time then it needs to be feeding time every day!

What do you do now?  The first thing I tell people when they have one not eating is to get a Lactipro bolus or two in them. Lactipro is a specific strain of bacteria that consume lactic acid and produce butyric acid. Your vet will likely have those on hand which is another reason to establish a relationship with them before you need help. If they don’t the company will ship them. Once those are in putting show cattle on one of the TrueGlos (TrueGlo or TrueGlo Cr) will supply prebiotics, probiotics, postbiotics, and synbiotics to help keep things right in the rumen and gut to give you a margin of safety.