When MFA’s Feed Division developed two new Performance First supplement tubs earlier this year, the timing couldn’t have been better for livestock producers who were experiencing dry pastures and short hay supplies.
Generally, supplement tubs provide protein, mineral and vitamins in a highly palatable formulation that can fit into most grazing situations. When forages are lacking in quality or quantity, however, tubs can serve as a solution to assure cattle receive essential nutrients that may be missing from their diet.
Supplement tubs have been an important part of MFA’s feed selection for many years, but the new Performance First products are unique, said Mike Spidle, MFA director of sales, livestock products and feed marketing. The products are made exclusively for MFA by MFA at the feed mill in Mexico, Mo., rather than a third-party manufacturer. And they are the first tubs to contain Shield Technology, MFA’s proprietary blend of essential oils and other additives that help prevent sickness and promote performance without antibiotics.
“This is our formula, our products, made exclusively for MFA customers,” Spidle said. “They are the first of their kind.”
Performance First Tubs with Shield Technology are available in both a 20-percent protein pressed formula and 16-percent poured version. The tubs are specifically formulated to achieve a targeted intake level of 2 pounds or less per head, per day, Spidle added, unlike other brands of tubs in which consumption can be more than double that amount.
“Because the cattle are consuming less of these tubs, the product could cost less per cow on a daily basis, even with the added value of Shield Technology,” Spidle said. “Plus, you get Shield’s health benefits on top of the mineral supplementation.”
On-farm demonstrations support those claims. David Callis, who raises cattle and row crops in Sedalia, Mo., was among a test group of producers trying out the new Performance First tubs in real-world conditions this summer. Over the summer, two groups of heifers on the Callis farm were supplemented with MFA Performance First 20% Tub with Shield Technology.
“One group was first-calf heifers, and we were feeding them every day to improve the chances of breeding back. They only ate about one-third a pound, per head, per day of the tub,” explained Callis, who serves on the MFA Incorporated board. “The other group was heifers we are breeding that have never had a calf. We’re not supplementing them like the other group of heifers; they’re just on grass. They went through about 2 pounds a day.”
During the trial, Callis said he fed four of the 200-pound tubs—one to the group of first-calf heifers, which consisted of 25 pairs, and three to the other group of 35 cattle.
Contained in a distinctive purple tub, the Performance First products contain all the trace vitamins and minerals cattle need for a balanced, healthy diet. They’re also fortified with macro-minerals such as phosphorus, which is often depleted in stressed fields. In addition, Performance First tubs contain appreciable amounts of essential trace minerals such as copper, magnesium, zinc, iodine, cobalt manganese and selenium.
“Both the 20% Tub and the 16% Tub have enough minerals that producers wouldn’t need additional mineral supplementation,” Spidle said. “Plus, they’re a convenient way to deliver that nutrition.”
MFA feed specialists recommend providing one tub per 10 to 20 head, feeding free-choice continuously along with a plentiful source of average to good-quality forage and clean, fresh water. Consumption may vary depending upon animal body condition, quality and quantity of forages, seasonal weather conditions, and most importantly, feeding locations of tubs with respect to loafing, grazing, feeding and watering areas.
In addition to the complete vitamin and mineral package, having Shield Technology available in an MFA-branded tub makes sense, said Callis. He’s witnessed the benefits of Shield firsthand in MFA Cadence and Cattle Charge feeds and Ricochet mineral he provides his primarily Angus-based herd.
“Other than their standard vaccinations, we haven’t had to treat any of our spring calves since weaning,” he said. “That’s remarkable.”
Recently, quality feed and minerals have become even more important to Callis, who this past June embarked on a new venture—introducing Akaushi bulls to his herd. The Akaushi breed, a type of red Wagyu Japanese cattle, was imported to the U.S. in the mid-1990s and is known for its carcass quality. Callis expects his first half-blood Akaushi calves to be born next spring.
“Our goal is to produce the best-quality beef we can,” he said. “That’s why good nutrition is so important.”
Shield Technology can help cattlemen such as Callis do just that, Spidle said. Benefits include improved feed efficiency, daily gain, immunity, rumen function and breedback. Producers have found feeding Shield leads to fewer open cows, more full-term pregnancies and newborns that get up faster, he added.
Now, with Performance First Tubs, producers have more options to deliver Shield to their herd while ensuring the cattle are receiving proper nutrition.
“By adding these tubs to our lineup,” Spidle said, “producers have a complete selection of products with Shield Technology to fit just about any feeding situation.”
For more information on Performance First Tubs, visit with the feed specialists at your MFA or AGChoice location.