With the drought continuing, the pastures in our region cannot sustain lambing/calving and lactation. Even if we do get decent spring rains, adequate pasture will not be available until late September/early October. If you haven’t already, implement feeding now to prevent stock losses and welfare issues.
When assessing feed, approach the nutrients in the following order: water, energy, protein, then minerals and vitamins. Ask your supplier for their Feedtest results or Local Land Services can provide you with a kit for the DPI feed test service.
Stock eating dry feeds require more water, as do lactating stock. Sufficient quantity, quality and reliability of water must be available.
All body functions need energy. While moderate quality hays may have been maintaining stock until now, eight months pregnant cows require 40 percent more energy, and cows with calf at foot need 60 percent more energy. These increases are even more dramatic for sheep and are also increased for twin-bearing ewes. Cold weather stress also increases energy requirements by at least 20 percent for cattle and hay will generate the most body heat. Cold weather stress is particularly relevant for ewes lambing off-shears.
Sheep and cattle can be fed cost effectively using grain or grain-based pellets. All changes to feed – particularly grains - must be introduced gradually over at least two weeks, and a source of fibre, such as hay, should be available. In particular with the onset of lactation animals need at least 20 percent of their diet supplied as a roughage, such as hay, straw or silage, to support milk production.
Supplements for Energy - Molasses
Molasses is a useful supplement for energy and can also be used to carry other supplements such as urea and minerals. Sufficient roughage must be available to prevent molasses toxicity.
The current standing dry feed in paddocks is likely to be very low quality without enough energy for cattle, and they will need additional hay.
Sheep may be obtaining adequate roughage from some paddocks.
Protein is essential for growth and lactation. If the feed used to provide energy does not have enough protein, the addition of lupins, grains, seeds, meals and brewers by products can assist in lifting the protein level. An empty cow needs 8 percent protein whereas a lactating cow needs 15pc.
Supplements for Protein – Urea
Urea can replace some of the protein requirements of ruminants. Urea must be mixed properly through the feed. It should not be fed out too quickly or at too high a rate as it can cause toxicity and death. Urea is not appropriate for young stock and non-ruminants must be completely excluded. If you are inexperienced with urea feeding be very mindful of these risks and seek advice on its use and other options.
Molasses and urea alone are not adequate for survival but can be used to “top up” nutrients.
Mineral deficiencies often occur when feeding low-quality hays, or cereal-based feeds. Provide cattle with calcium, sodium and magnesium, for example as a loose lick of equal parts limestone, salt and Causmag ® at 180 grams per head per day. For sheep fed grain, provide calcium and salt. 1.5kg lime with 0.5kg salt mixed into every 100kg of grain.
Adult animals will usually have sufficient reserves of vitamins, but young stock may need vitamin supplementation for Vitamins A and B12 after 4-6 months without green feed. Vitamin A can be supplemented by injection (as Vitamin A, D and E) and vitamin B12 is available as an injection and as a component of certain vaccines.
Remember: water; energy; protein; minerals and vitamins.
- For more information visit the DPI Drought Hub at dpi.nsw.gov.au/climate-and-emergencies/droughthub or contact South East Local Land Services Braidwood, phone 4842 2594