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Bo knows the benefits

Belfast cattleman Jackson puts trust in Pro-Lix liquid feed as free-choice pasture supplement for his commercial herd
Story and photos by Chris Villines 2/23/2017

 

Cattle gather around a liquid feeder tank at Bo Jackson’s farm, where they consume molasses-based Pro-Lix liquid feed to give them additional needed nutrients. The Marshall County cattleman has been using the supplement for almost three years and has included it as part of a year-round supplementation program for over a year.
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Yes, he’s known as Bo Jackson. No, he’s not the superhuman athlete who performed jaw-dropping feats on the football field and baseball diamond.

Instead, Jared “Bo” Jackson is proving to be a standout on another stretch of green grass: his Marshall County farm. It’s here, on some 600 owned and leased acres that the 36-year-old wears his “game face” every day in managing a herd of 175 commercial cattle.

“Every day brings new challenges,” says Bo, a 2002 graduate of the University of Tennessee at Martin, where he earned a degree in ag business and was a member of the school’s rodeo team. “You’ve got to make sure you’re getting back the money you’re putting into the cows. It’s a small enough margin now to where there’s not a lot of room for error.”

Not only does Bo have to be prudent and efficient financially, but as primarily a one-person operation he stresses he must also make the most effective, efficient use of his time. And too much of it, Bo admits, was being spent hand-feeding his cattle.

“Every night, I would be out past dark feeding,” he explains. “I was hauling about 1,000 gallons of slop [stillage] to them, and it was more trouble than it was worth. Two winters ago, I decided I was going to do something different.”

So Bo began researching products that would provide his herd the nutrition it needs, greatly reduce the time-consuming task of hand-feeding, and maximize the value of his forage-based operation.

“I wanted to supplement their diet with something that kept them looking healthy, not just fat, and had a mineral base to it, too,” Bo says. “You need to have supplementation because the hay in this part of the country won’t give the cattle all the protein and energy they need.”

His quest led him to begin using liquid feed as a free-choice pasture supplement for the cattle. Initially, however, Bo was skeptical about the results.

“With the first feed I tried, they were consuming about three or four times the amount they were supposed to, and I thought, ‘Man, this is going to break me,’” he admits. “It wasn’t efficient moneywise. I couldn’t afford that. Each cow was going to have to start having two calves a year if they kept on eating like that!”

That failed experiment prompted Bo to seek out another liquid feed brand, one that provided the nutritional bang for the buck and wouldn’t be overconsumed by the herd. Once he began using Pro-Lix® Liquid Feed, he knew the search was over.

“From the start, it seemed like their intake on the Pro-Lix was about what it was supposed to be,” says Bo. “When it was dry early last spring, they fed on it more, and when it started raining and grass got good, they backed off. Then when it got dry again this past fall, they went back to the Pro-Lix. My cattle have self-adjusted to it well.”

Pro-Lix is a molasses-based feed supplement containing the protein, energy, vitamins, and minerals that pasture grass and forage can’t always provide. As part of a year-round supplementation program that also incorporates the use of a cattle mineral, Pro-Lix provides an affordable, convenient way to make sure cattle’s nutritional requirements are met.

“Pro-Lix is a concentrated source of protein and energy that stimulates the growth of rumen microbes important to the health and development of cattle,” says Tennessee Farmers Cooperative livestock nutritionist Royce Towns. “This liquid feed enhances the digestibility of forages, which is especially important if forage quality is lacking. The self-fed formulation of Pro-Lix means every animal gets ‘its turn’ with no labor input. Plus, there’s no waste — every pound of the product gets into a cow.”

Bo, who orders Pro-Lix through Marshall Farmers Cooperative (he’s a member there and also at Lincoln and Bedford Moore Co-ops), says he and other fellow cattlemen have noticed positive differences the product has made in their cow/calf herds.

“The cows shed off a lot quicker in the springtime,” he explains. “And it’s kept the weight on them year-round. A lot of people come out of winter saying their cows are too thin and start really rolling the feed to them. Pro-Lix helps keep my cattle consistent.

“My father, Barry, has cattle and has always been a good judge of mine. We were putting hay in the barn one day last summer and he told me, ‘Your cows look better than I’ve ever seen them.’ I don’t know if I can credit that all to Pro-Lix, but I do know it’s the only thing I’ve done different the past few years. Dad has started using it, too.”

Each of Pro-Lix’s four formulas contains protein, phosphorus, potassium, necessary vitamins, and other nutrients essential to animal nutrition. Bo feeds Pro-Lix 35 Silver Systematic Release (#1394).

TFC Feed Specialist Rick Syler points out that because cattle are attracted to the molasses in Pro-Lix, they’ll come back to it throughout the day enough to meet their needs, but not enough to overeat. As long as proper feeding and management practices are followed, overeating is unlikely to occur.

“Even the calves have been licking the feeders,” Bo says. “They may only take three or four licks and walk off, but I see it on their faces enough to know they’re messing with it. And the Pro-Lix stays mixed good. You don’t see settling on the bottom of the feeder.”

To round out his nutritional program, Bo says he also keeps a free-choice mineral out for the cattle year-round, including Co-op Supreme Cattle Mineral (#678).

“I’ve done that for as long as I’ve had cattle,” he explains. “It’s an extra source of nutrients. The better the nutritional plan you keep them on, the less sickness or other problems you’ll have.”

Bo adds that the combination of benefits he’s seeing with Pro-Lix will make it an ongoing part of the plan, too. Time saved feeding means more hours he can spend with wife Elizabeth and their two children: son Tucker, 3, and 10-month-old daughter Piper.

“I’m stretched pretty thin, so using Pro-Lix is the ultimate in convenience for me,” he says. “I don’t have to go to each place and feed each cow every day. Now, I can do in three or four hours a month what used to take two hours a day. The self-regulating is what sold me on Pro-Lix as much as anything. When the cattle need it, they’ll eat it; when they don’t, they won’t. I’m satisfied.”

For more information on Pro-Lix Liquid Feed, visit with the livestock specialists at your local Co-op.

 
 
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