The GANLAB offers the livestock producer or wildlife manager dietary diagnostic analysis and decision support software that is used as a nutritional monitoring program for grazing livestock. In other words, the lab can give you a “feed tag” for the forage your animals are grazing and a “performance report” describing how well they are doing, how much weight and condition they are gaining or losing, and what supplementation may be needed. The Getting Started pages and NUTBAL info packet will provide more details. But here are the basics.
In recent years, the analysis of fecal samples, a.k.a. manure has proven to be a useful and effective diagnostic and management tool. A fecal sample collected out in the pasture can be sent to the Grazingland Animal Nutrition Lab (GANLAB). The GANLAB analyzes the fecal sample using near-infrared reflectance spectroscopy (NIRS) to determine the quality of the forage the animals were consuming 36 hours prior to defecating. The GANLAB’s NIRS analyses can tell you the percent protein and energy of the forage your animals are grazing. The NUTBAL software (available through an interactive website, or operated by lab staff) can then incorporate the animal profile, environmental conditions, pasture conditions, supplemental feed program, and gain goals to generate reports estimating forage intake, protein or energy requirements and intake, and weight change. Together, the service is referred to as the NIRS/NUTBAL System.
Analysts stress that livestock producers are facing a market environment that requires greater attention to production costs. Supplements and stored forages represent a major expenditure in livestock production. Greater cost efficiency can be gained through strategic feeding programs involving “feeding smart…not more or less, necessarily.” The NIRS/NUTBAL system is a tool for producers, managers, and consultants to make informed feeding and grazing decisions.
This combined NIRS/NUTBAL System monitors the changes in forage quality over time and matches the nutritional needs of livestock to the most economical feedstuff currently available. A regular monitoring program such as a monthly sampling schedule provides a wealth of information that brings a new level of confidence to the decision-making process.
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How can the NIRS/NUTBAL System be useful to you?
- Drought Management – The NIRS/NUTBAL Pro System is a diagnostic tool that keeps you in tune with the nutritional status of your livestock in order to make more informed decisions for better management of droughts, feeds, reproduction and grazing.
- Reproductive Management – Monitoring herd nutrition allows you to better manage for appropriate body condition helping to facilitate improved conception rates, milk production, and herd productivity.
- Economical Feed Management -The NIRS/NUTBAL system helps you identify when what and how much to feed to maximize the cost-effectiveness of winter-feeding programs, drought supplementation, and production goals.
- Grazing Management -Track your pasture’s forage quality to fine-tune rotational grazing programs and identify deficiencies in current systems.
If you are a new client of the Lab’s services, you are likely wondering which services you need. The GANLAB offers 2 primary services to the general public, The NIRS/NUTBAL PRO Report, and the NUTBAL Advisory.
- NIRS/NUTBAL Pro Report is the base service and includes the crude protein and energy consumed by the animal in the NIRS fecal analysis as well as the NUTBAL Report that contains information on animal performance, the quality of feedstock, and limiting factors to the animal’s growth. The fee for this service is $45.
- A NUTBAL Advisory report is an additional service that is offered to our clients as an extra aid in making decisions regarding nutritional management. This service includes the NIRS fecal analysis and NUTBAL animal performance reports as in the previous service, as well recommendations for managing nutrition given current sample results and goals written by one of the scientists at the GANLAB. The fee for this service is $80.
Also included in these costs:
- Sample Sheet
- Dietary Crude Protein and Energy (Digestible Organic Matter) estimate
- NIRS/NUTBAL PRO system report
- Sample Kit (cooler, sample bags, cool-pack, disposable glove, and spoon) Kit Requests can be submitted via NUTBAL Online
- Mailing of kit to your ranch or residence
- Mailing of results
- Sample processing (drying, grinding, and sample prep)
- The rancher needs to compare the quality of forage between pastures, species, grazing pressure. The service would be the NIRS Fecal Analysis and NUTBAL Report, $45/sample. To determine the number of samples review the Collecting Sample sheet.
- The rancher is very competent regarding brush control, genetics and animal pests, but is not confident about his/her ability to recognize nutritional problems, etc. The services would include both the NUTBAL Advisory for $80/sample.
- The rancher is comfortable using the internet and is familiar with livestock nutrition. He may even have had several NUTBAL Advisories written on previous samples. He may choose to try the NIRS Fecal Analysis and NUTBAL Report for $45/sample and determine on his own the best course of action for nutritional management.
Which option should you choose?
The answer to this question depends on how knowledgeable you are regarding animal nutrition. If this is your first time, it might be best to get the NUTBAL Advisory. After you become familiar with the results, then switch over to the standard report.
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View the NUTBAL Online Tutorial
In addition to collaborating on numerous projects over the years, our suite of NIRS analyses (% dietary crude protein, dietary digestible organic matter, fecal nitrogen, and fecal phosphorus) has facilitated animal or natural resource studies of entities independent of Texas A&M University or its departments.