Maximising your Dry Feed and Stubble this Summer

“Continued high prices for both cattle and sheep will determine feeding strategies for summer and autumn”, says Dr Paul Meggison, General Manager and Nutritionist for AusFarm Nutrition Products.

Following one of the best seasons in recent history, livestock, in general, are in a forward condition. This allows greater flexibility to farmers who should take advantage of feeding growing animals for faster growth to subsequently chase the higher prices and boost cash flow.

For cattle, by feeding stubbles or dry feed together with limited conserved feed and a high protein feed supplement, beef cows in good condition are capable of an extended lactation. They are able to convert some of that excess weight into calve live weight gain. Controlled weight loss in this manner is desirable and conditions cattle for increased milk yield and reduced risk of grass tetany later in the year.

Similarly for sheep, ewes coming up to joining and pregnant ewes can thrive very well on dry feed providing they are offered a high protein supplement. It should be noted however that, hot weather followed by rain causes leaching of soluble nutrients from dry plant material but these deficiencies can be compensated by correct supplementation.

For both sheep and cattle, the role of a suitably balanced protein supplement is to stimulate rumen bacteria to better digest low quality roughages. Then, bacteria themselves become a major source of protein for the animal.

Also favourable to this season are the current and forecasted grain prices. It makes a lot of sense to add value to grain by feeding it to livestock and adding value to livestock by feeding grain.

With this in mind, grain supplementation, to accelerate growth in both sheep and cattle, will be popular this season. This can be done by supplementation at pasture or by establishing a feedlot. In both cases, a balanced diet is necessary to optimise feed efficiency, however care must be taken when feeding grain. For sheep, grain should be fed whole, whilst for cattle, it should be processed and in both intensive situations, dietary buffers need to be considered.