Definition on Concentrate Feed

Here we discussed the introduction of Concentrate Feed in commercial livestock production. What is the definition of concentrate feeds in this context? I am not clear on that but would like to share my own personal journey to understand.  As I see it, this has also been an evolving process from adding a few grains to supplement the grazing to controlled feeding of technically balanced rations (and sometimes not so well balanced rations!!).

As a child growing up in the UK, I remember my father discussing the effects of adding concentrates and testing them against pasture only in his dairy enterprise. He would test different fertilisers to test the mineral uptake of the grasses, he would trial different grass types to test milk yields, cow health and fertility – but his concentrates at that time were little more than barley or some other grain produced on the farm. He would cut the grass for winter conservation at a very specific stage of growth to lock in the maximum nutrients that technology and weather allowed.  He recorded everything on a herd basis and analysed the outcomes.  He had fellow farmers share their data, so the recordings were carried out on a significant scale for the period.[1] This was before supplemented vitamins and minerals were introduced into the concentrate mixtures to help balance the forages to help support the production.  We have progressed so far today that now dairy cattle fed complete rations that are a mixture of forage, grains, proteins and supplemented vitamins, minerals and any other supporting nutrients (such as additional amino acids) required will simply use the grass to sit on, when it is available to them, they no longer consume it.  These dairy cattle are fit, yield well, have minimal metabolic problems such as mastitis, lameness, milk fever that previously were common production problems and expensive when measured in lost production and remedy costs, not to mention the reduction in the productive life of breeding stock.

To conclude, the word concentrate in today's livestock production systems, can be considered a generic term that covers many different types of supplemented feed to balance with farm produced forage and/or grains.   It maybe mixed into the farm produced rations to create a complete feed or it maybe fed in addition to grazing or forage fed separately in a different format.   For ostrich production, as ostrich consume so little food for their their body weight, it is recommended that the concentrate is added to their forage in the correct proportions and is balanced to the nutrient content of the forage.   This is a reason that the feeding of chopped hay is recommended over fresh.

See the Feed Products section of here defining the different livestock production terminologies.


[1]This during the period from the 1940s to 1970s and covering some 3,000 cows in milk in own herds and similar data from collaborating producers

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