Advice On Managing With Minimum Forage

Measures need to be taken to ensure extra supplementation conserves stocks.

6 April 2018

Due to a fodder shortage on many farms and the inability to get cattle to grass, higher levels of concentrate supplementation will be required to stretch any available forage stocks. Several measures need to be taken to ensure this extra supplementation conserves stocks while also avoiding any digestive upsets in animals.

  • Giving cattle a midday feed consisting of high fibre ingredients will assist in stretching fodder stocks. Drinagh Score Feeds have formulated a fodder extender ration with quality high-fibre ingredient that will help. Alternatively, feeding a straight concentrate, for example, soya hulls will help to strengthen fodder stocks and can be fed at high levels safely.
  • When feeding concentrates, do not exceed 4kg/head in one feed.
  • Where head feed space is limited for supplementary feeding, cattle groups may need to be split into smaller lots This will ensure a more equal allocation of feed to each animal.
  • It is advised to feed forage to cattle before concentrates are fed to prevent any digestive upsets.
  • The inclusion of straw in the diet has a very beneficial impact when feeding high levels of concentrates as it is a great source of long fibre to reduce digestive upsets such as acidosis and displaced stomachs. Feeding straw will also reduce the demand on dry matter intake of forages i.e. silage, hay, etc...
  • If concentrate feed allocations could be split into 4 feeds/day, the risk of digestive upsets will be lesser than 1-2 large feed per days.
  • The general rule of thumb is that the concentrate content of the diet should not exceed 50%. If this is not achievable then straw is a must in the diet.
  • If it is possible, including grass in the diet for a number of hours a day has a huge saving on silage and fodder stocks. This is difficult under the present conditions so using spring grazing techniques will minimize damage.

Always consult your co-op advisor/nutritionist for assistance on diets and fodder queries