As the days get longer, producers can find cattle spending too much time at the feed bunk. The spring feeding frenzy occurs when cattle rapidly increase feed consumption and intake varies due to changes in climate, temperature and day length.
During this time, cattle are more likely to experience sub-acute and acute acidosis, liver abscesses and digestive disorders. Death loss associated with digestive problems is highest during the spring feeding frenzy. Feed intake will increase 1.5 percent to 2 percent during spring in correlation with the increase in hours of light each day.
Variation in feed intake also results in lower daily gains and feed efficiency. The effects of individual variation are more severe than normal because cattle are consuming a greater amount of feed. Heifers and steers react similarly to the change in their environment.
Because this annual event is extremely predictable, it is also manageable. Producers have several tools available to ease cattle through the feeding frenzy. Managing the forage to concentrate ratio, grain processing, and nutrient and feed additives will benefit cattle during this period. We recommend producers work closely with their nutritionist, specifically during February, March and April, to identify the correct solutions for their operation. Producers should continue to monitor feed intake throughout the spring.