A solution has arrived for cow and calf operations that struggle with range cows who refuse leave the comforts of an adjacent riparian area to graze on lower quality forage: research is showing that low-moisture block supplements, such as Ridley Block’s BioBarrel®, are incredible long term attractants, with greater success than range cakes, and are helping producers by allowing their grazing programs to grow.
Low-moisture block supplements are manufactured by heating molasses, then rapidly cooling it into a very hard block that cannot be bitten, forcing the cows to lick at it slowly. The blocks provide additional protein, vitamins and minerals to grazing herds, and provide essential nutrients to rumen microbes; the extra fuel allows the microbes to break down mature or dry forage efficiently and convert it into energy.
The key to the success of the low-moisture blocks is palatability, according to Dr. Derek Bailey, New Mexico State University.
“Low moisture blocks last a long time, but if you feed something such as hay or cake, animals will readily come, eat it all up and spend only about an hour a day where we feed,” he said. “If we put out a low-moisture block, they’ll spend five hours within 100 yards of the location.”
Bailey also noted that feeding cake requires more time, labor, equipment and money to deliver.
“If we can replace high-priced hay by staying out on rangeland longer with block feeding, then the block is a very cost-effective tool,” he said.
To successfully incorporate low-moisture blocks into a fall/winter grazing program, Dan Dhuyvetter, Ridley Block Operations, suggests that producers ensure the herd is familiar with the product before grazing, and recommends introducing the block at calving season, when cows are close to home. He also suggests that customers strategically place blocks in areas with adequate grazing opportunities, and that they make sure to guide the herd across the pasture to allow them to see the blocks.