Supplementing slow growing grass

Supplementing slow growing grass

Friday, March 19, 2010

Cold days and nights have restricted early season grass growth, so much so that grazing acres are a month behind where they were last year in many areas, according to Rumenco technical manager David Thornton.

Many livestock farmers will be considering supplementary feeding, but he urges caution before calling the local feed merchant. "Even if early spring grazing is limited, supplementary feeding may only be appropriate in certain situations. And when grass does start coming through, you want to make sure stock are making the most of it and not substituting it with expensive concentrates."

He maintains that supplementary feeding should only be considered when pasture quality is limiting milk output from ewes and cows and when lush new material does start to come through in the spring as the weather warms up, it's important to make the most of it.

"Where there is an adequate quantity of high quality green pasture, a concentrate will simply substitute for grass - which can easily have a value of 24-26% crude protein and over 13ME in its own right, potentially higher than the bought in feed itself," he explains.

"Rumevite blocks, on the other hand, do not substitute grass and are around £100/tonne cheaper than bucket supplements. They can totally replace concentrate feeds and encourage animals to forage across the entire available pasture. Blocks are also perfect for both ewe and lamb feeding. Experience shows that ewes will reduce their intake of block once the first shoots of spring grass begin to appear, but lamb intakes are maintained."

Feed blocks are also ideal for delivering supplementary magnesium to help protect cows and ewes from grass staggers and is recommended for at least six weeks post turnout and during periods or rapid grass growth.

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