Bottomline: Stocker cattle producers and cow/calf operators might consider protein supplementation as a management tool from July to marketing in the late summer and early fall.

The region has received an abundant rainfall this spring resulting in good to excellent forage production. However, with these conditions, the greater tonnage of production is expected to have a lower protein concentration and lower energy value than in years when rainfall is not as abundant or distributed differently. A low rate of protein supplementation from July until marketing in September or October can improve market weights of stocker cattle and weaning calves. 

Performance response of stocker cattle: Summer protein supplementation of stocker cattle has been evaluated on shortgrass prairie in northeast NM and western Kansas, mixed grass prairie in northwestern and western Oklahoma, and tallgrass prairies in central Oklahoma - range types representing the varied rangelands of the Texas Panhandle and Plains. In these studies, stocker cattle gained an additional 0.25-0.45 lb/day when fed a high protein (38-41%) supplement at a rate equivalent to 1 lb/hd/day (7 lb/hd/wk). This is an additional 22-30 lb gain over a 75 day period. The supplement efficiency (lb supplement/lb of added wt) ranged from about 4:1 to less than 2:1. If an ionophore is added to the supplement, gains and efficiency improve further. 

Performance response of nursing calves: Studies have shown that nursing calves can also benefit from protein supplementation in the summer. Oklahoma research demonstrated that calves provided the equivalent of 1 lb/day of a high protein (38-41%) creep feed, in this case a salt-limited protein meal, responded similarly to the yearlings with increased gain and a supplement efficiency around 3:1. Creep feeding requires a "creep area" be constructed that can only be accessed by the calves. Most often, the creep feed offered is a self-fed dry feed product placed in the creep area. Hand-fed products, such as range cubes, can also be used as a creep feed but will be delivered into troughs in the creep area on a schedule similar to that mentioned above for supplementing stockers. The calf creep feed can also contain ionophores. Again, ionophores can only be offered in self-fed products labelled for self-feeding. 

Dollars and Cents Beef Cattle Market Update

Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Erath County is offering a great opportunity to get up-to-date with today’s cattle market. We will have a roundtable discussion with Jason Johnson our Texas Agrilife Extension Economist to discuss market update, futures outlook, current supply and demand. This quarterly program will last approximately one hour. The July meeting will be Friday, July 14th from 12:00-1:00 p.m. at Agave – Indoor Front Porch Room 1907 W Washington Street here in Stephenville. There is no RSVP and lunch is Dutch treat. Don’t miss this great opportunity you learn while you eat.

For more information contact Erath Extension office at 254-965-1460 or

Lonnie Jenschke is an Erath County extension agent.