Using Self-Feeders

Jeff Pastoor, Senior Cattle Consultant, Land O’Lakes Beef Feeds.

 Feeding cattle with self-feeders or steer stuffers is a popular option in the Upper Midwest.  They are a very convenient way to feed cattle, however day to day management will make a big difference in the performance of cattle on the self-feeder.

In general, diets fed as a TMR in a feed bunk will give us better performance and lower costs of gain than diets fed through a self feeder.  In trials done by the University of Minnesota, steers fed on a TMR had $23.90 more profit per head than identical cattle fed on a self feeder.  Closeout records from Land O’Lakes would indicate a much larger benefit than this from TMR vs. self feeder.

However, because of equipment costs and the learning curve involved with bunk management, self-feeders are probably the best choice for feeding operations of less than 100 hd.

It is easier to learn how to manage a self-feeder than to manage a fence line bunk.  There are some very basic guidelines to follow when using self-feeders:

 

Remember…self-feeders are not: