Using live yeast products stacks up in many situations, but when feeding cattle on a high starch or a forage-based diet, the benefits are worthwhile
This message comes from Nick Berni, ForFarmers ruminant product manager, who says live yeast can regulate rumen pH, improve fibre digestion and scavenge oxygen, all of which improve feed efficiency, have a positive effect on rumen health and increase daily liveweight gain.
Mr Berni says: “The major variable in the quality of a forage is determined by its fibre content. This applies as much to grazed grass as it does to a diet based on silage.
“The more we can break down lignin – the indigestible component of fibre – the more of the forage’s energy becomes available to the animal.”
This is one of several methods by which live yeast acts in the rumen, as once digestible fractions of the fibre (the cellulose and hemicellulose) are released, the yeast helps in the digestion of these components.
He says: “It does this by stimulating bacteria which break down hemicellulose and cellulose so they can be utilised by the animal.”
The bacteria are also encouraged by the yeast to effectively ‘mop up’ lactic acid, which Mr Berni says will help maintain a constant rumen pH of 6.2 or higher.
“This is particularly important in high starch diets [those including barley and wheat] or low fibre diets [spring grazing] where there may be a tendency towards acidosis.”
Meanwhile, the yeast’s utilisation of oxygen helps create the ideal environment for the rumen’s anaerobic microflora, while its delivery of amino acids enhances general nutrition. Despite the advantages, feeding a live product to cattle has come with its challenges, all of which have been addressed by ForFarmers’ yeast, Levucell TITAN.
Mr Berni says: “The first key point is Levucell is rumen-specific.
This means the yeast has been isolated from ruminants and specifically enhances rumen conditions.”
Furthermore, he says the product is encapsulated, which protects it in challenging conditions.
“For example, this could mean protection from high temperatures and steam which can be used in the manufacture of a compound feed or protection from antimicrobial actions of minerals and trace elements such as salt and zinc, which could be used in blend and mineral pre-mix packs.”
The upshot is it can be incorporated into compound feeds, blends and mineral pre-mixes and can be easily used in all beef cattle feeding systems. Here, it remains intact and alive, and ready to do its work once consumed by the animal.
Mr Berni says: “Live yeast can be used successfully in rearing, growing and finishing systems to improve performance. However, there is no absolute right or wrong and the decision will depend on the system, breed and diet type used.
“Improvements in daily liveweight gain of 100-250g/head/day can reasonably be expected. These will be accompanied by better carcase grading and killing out percentages,” he says.
Neil Hamilton farms with his family at Earlside Farm in the Scottish Borders, just to the south east of Hawick. He produces store cattle which are sold through nearby St Boswell’s market, and lambs from his flocks of 700 North Country Cheviots and 300 Texel ewes.
ForFarmers account manager Sam Liptrott says: “Mr Hamilton is one of the most prolific breeders in the area and has a reputation for producing quality stock.
“This is why we asked him to trial our live yeast product, as we knew he would be thorough and give the best evaluation.”
Mr Hamilton was asked to trial the ForFarmers yeast product Levucell TITAN, which was added to the blend he fed to his cattle. The Aberdeen-Angus-sired progeny from his Simmental cross Luing suckler herd are born in either spring or autumn and it was the group which calved in April 2013 which was used in the trial.
Mr Hamilton says: “These were reared through spring and summer on the hill, and were housed from late November. They went on to grazed grass and a blend the following spring before going to market in September and October 2014.”
It was 31 days before sale when the cattle were randomly split into two groups, with one group fed the live yeast product mixed into the blend.
“Cattle were managed in exactly the same way in every other respect and grazed the same paddock which was split into two.”
The 36 cattle in the trial weighed on average 450-470kg when they were grouped and were aged 14-18 months. Each group comprised a mixture of bullocks and heifers; they were wormed prior to the trial and fed 3kg/day of the bespoke blend either with or without Levucell TITAN.
The average weight gain of the two groups after 31 days was 26.6kg (0.86kg/head/day) for the group fed the standard
blend and 34.7kg (1.12kg/head/day) for the group fed the blend with Levucel TITAN.
Mr Hamilton says: “I was really impressed by the 8kg difference in their average weight, especially when they were only fed the product for a month.” The extra weight of cattle at market, priced at an average of £2.20/kg, was valued at an average £17.82/head.
Mr Hamilton says: “I have never really tried any additives before, but since the trial I have used Levucell TITAN all the way through since last November. I will be selling the current batch in October 2015 and I am looking forward to seeing how it does.
“We will weigh them when they come in for their next worming, but by eye I would say they look significantly heavier than the cattle we produced last year.”
For more information about Levucell TITAN visit ForFarmers at Beef Expo on stand 85.