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Grazing Winter Crops Effectively

Key Points

  • The lack of an autumn break in southern Australia may hinder winter production
  • Grazing winter crops can plug the winter feed gap
  • Crops are a great source of feed, however, low mineralisation can limit grazing efficiency
  • StockMins-Crop Grazer Plus trials provide evidence of rapid weight gain on green feed

Benefit of Grazing Winter Crops

A combination of a dry autumn and cooler winter temperatures will likely hinder pasture growth and extend the winter feed gap.

However, according to Micheal Savli, Technical Manager and Nutritionist at AusFarm Nutrition Products (ANP), years like this one, where quality winter feed may be limited, present the best value for grazing dual-purpose crops given the rain comes in time.

“Cereal crops are great sources of feed during winter, especially for lambs when quality feed is limited”, he said.

On top of this, crops have generally low parasite pressure and can play an important role in worm management.

Low Mineral Levels in Crops can Limit Production

Despite this, Mr Savli warns that livestock grazing crops need to be carefully managed. “Common deficiencies in key minerals like magnesium, sodium, calcium and phosphorous prevent livestock from utilising the feed to its full potential. Furthermore, high levels of potassium in crops and winter pastures have an antagonistic effect on magnesium, reducing absorption and exacerbating deficiencies.”

Interestingly, when livestock grazing crops and winter pastures are supplemented with an effective green feed supplement, mineral, vitamin and trace element deficiencies can be satisfied and the production response to balancing minerals in the diet can be exceptional.

StockMins-Crop Grazer Plus Trial Summaries

Product trials in Junee in 2023, involving lambs grazing barley crops and lush green pasture, concluded that lambs fed an effective green feed supplement during grazing (StockMins-Crop Grazer Plus), performed significantly better than lambs supplemented with Causmag, lime and salt.

Mr Savli said “In the trials lambs fed StockMins-Crop Grazer Plus achieved 12% and 14% higher liveweight gains on crops and pastures, respectively.”

Interestingly, the largest differences were seen in the liveweight gain of the smaller lambs with a 52% higher growth rate in the crop trial and 18% higher on pasture.

StockMins-Crop Grazer Plus Pasture Trial Flyer

StockMins-Crop Grazer Plus Crop Trial Flyer

Huge Benefit to Grazing Crops this Year

Despite the lack of a significant autumn break, Mr Savli is confident that effective green feed supplementation can have a greater impact in a drier season. “Due to various environmental factors, we are expecting winter feed to be quite low in minerals and trace elements.”

“These deficiencies impact production, however, when corrected with an effective supplement can see liveweight gain responses of 30 to 50%1.

Don’t let mineral deficiencies impact the growth of your lambs on crops and winter pastures, contact AusFarm Nutrition Products today  on 0412048055 to discuss boosting your winter grazing activities.

Grazing crops with cattle? Try StockMins-BoviMag Plus

References

1.H Dove, KG McMullen – Animal Production Science, 2009 – CSIRO Publishing.