Feeding cattle with Palm meal

Asked February 15, 2016, 6:11 PM EST

I have a friend in Guatemala that is feeding out cattle and their feed choices are Palm kernal meal, corn, and soy flour. The calves starting weights are around 500 pounds. She said they intentd to finish at 700 pounds which seems light. Normally people in the reagion only graze cattle. My guess is that the cattle are a beef or dual purpose breed. We are looking for advice on a ration percentage for the feed. thanks.

Outside United States beef cattle beef cattle nutrition

1 Response

It is difficult to answer your request because we have limited experience with feeding palm kernel meal and soy flour. If the soy flour is the by-product of oil extraction, it will be very similar to our soybean meal, which is a good protein source that is used to bump the protein to the level you desire. High fat soy flour is usually for human consumption and has a high enough fat content to limit its use. Palm kernel meal has only about 40% of the protein content as soybean meal. It has a fat level that is highly variable and should probably be limited to about 4 or 5 pounds per animal per day. You might go a bit higher if you know the fat content of both the palm kernel meal and the soy flour. Palm kernel meal is also high in fiber and will limit intake of the finished feed.

Total feed intake can be as much as 2.5% to 3% of the animals body weight. That means the cattle could eat 15 to 20 pounds per day if the feed does not contain too much fiber. Exact levels of fiber and fat/oil in the feed ingredients is the wild card. Any ration that is put together without knowing the fiber and oil content may lead to disaster. High fiber will mean they won't eat enough. High fat may lead to serious digestive issues.

There is a Feedipedia site that lists "book values" for feeds that gives you a starting point on planning the feed ration. The palm kernel meal and soy flour are in the oil seed list. Maize grain is in the cereal grain list.

You probably need to work directly with a livestock nutritionist to get exact numbers and safety indicators to look for. you need to look beyond just the energy, protein and fiber. Mineral and vitamin imbalance is a serious concern, too. These feed sources are high in phosphorus and low in calcium. At the very least, a calcium source needs to be added to push the Ca:P ratio to 2:1.