Updated: Jun 1
Whether it is part of your pasture rotation or a designated crop to “finish’’ animals on, many farmers this year have planted forage brassica, turnips and herbs.
From past experiences when once the crop is mature, opening the gate and letting a mob/ herd in and forgetting about them doesn’t get us the best possible use of that crop.
Unfortunately summer crop is imbalanced for most classes of livestock with high soluble protein, mid energy and low functional fibre. If the animals are allowed access to the whole paddock at once they will “nip the top off” the plant. Resulting in a huge slug of protein not energy, and not enough fibre to allow the rumen to run effectively.
This then means we increase the rate of this feed going though the digestive tract to the point where the energy that the animal is trying to absorb ends up back out the other end on to the ground before they have a chance to extract it. So what can we do to make good use of all the cost we have just incurred.
Strip/ Block grazing
We need the animals to eat more of the “whole” plant in one sitting. The leaf, stem and in some cases the bulb will be more of a balanced diet then the leaf only. The bugs in these animals guts like a constant steam of nutrients that are balanced to optimise growth and or production. Also back fencing once the animals have left that area may mean that if the plant has regrowth potential then their maybe something grown back for another rotation. Feeding an energy source
With most Summer crops being extreme in crude protein % the addition of energy will be needed for the animal to utilise all that protein. Feeding a small amount of cereal grains will help the animal convert the protein that would be unavailable without the addition of an extra energy source.
Salt and minerals
Crops that are very digestible by the animal, will limit the amount of minerals that the animal will be able to extract before it turns to manure. A tub of TPM loose lick mineral will help keep animals balanced with some mineral interactions and some deficiency limiting stock performance - remembering that Zinc is a requirement while grazing brassica.
For more information on best practice strategies for feeding your summer crops, contact your local TRAC Expert
EXPERTS IN RUMINANT PRODUCTIVITY
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