Dr Paul Meggison’s Dry Season Feeding Program

Our nutritionists Micheal Savli and Dr Paul Meggison recently featured in an article in The Land discussing effective dry season feeding strategies. Below is a short snippet of the article including recommendations from Micheal and a practical example from Paul maintaining dry cows and keeping weaners moving forward in his commercial cattle herd at Rockview, 20 km south of Wagga Wagga.

Paul has also provided his dry season feeding recommendations in an easy to digest table.

The Land Article

Brown paddocks are reappearing across the state on the back of hot weather and producers are being urged to be on the front foot when it comes to feeding supplements to livestock.

Parts of the state have experienced what some call a “delayed summer”, with drier paddocks becoming apparent in the past few weeks.

Ausfarm Nutrition Products animal nutritionist Michael Salvi, Wagga Wagga, said although a bit later than usual, the company had started to sell plenty of dry feed supplements in the last few months.

He said pastures in the area, which now contained dry feed, would be lacking minerals such as calcium, phosphorus and sodium and the quality was likely declining with each rain event washing out the soluble sugars and proteins.

Rockview weaners fed a diet of barley straw, silage and StockGro-HiPro. Photo by Helen De Costa.

To counter this, his advice to customers has been to start early with protein and urea supplementation for livestock, rather than leaving it until the dry feed had turned to cardboard with a lower nutritional value.

Mr Salvi said he had started conversations with producers about early weaning and recommended purchasing good hay and some grain to help get through the dry period.

Most importantly, Mr Savli said producers should also consider how feed quality might also affect feed intake and in turn weight gain.

“If they’re full of straw and low quality roughage sitting there for such a long time, the rumen is not digesting efficiently,” he said.

“What we’re suggesting is to give them a bit of what we call non-protein nitrogen and a couple of things like phosphorus, cobalt and other trace elements, (StockGro-HiPro) which just kicks that fermentation back into gear and gets those animals digesting that feed a bit more efficiently.”

Recently weaned Rockview dry cows recovering well on barley straw and StockGro-HiPro

Maxwell producer and nutritionist Dr Paul Meggison, south of Wagga Wagga, runs 120 Angus cattle on 202 hectares and had made the decision to wean earlier than usual due to limited feed on offer.

Dr Meggison said paddocks that looked quite lush in early January had dried and weather leaching had reduced the feed value of standing pastures and stubbles.

“For cows and calves, I put out bales of barley or oat straw (better quality than wheat straw). As soon as cows eat around an average of 2kg per head per day, this will tell you that the pasture on offer is unsuitable for lactating cows,” he said.

“I bought in some barley straw early on, so what I have done is feed barley straw and a protein lick out on bare paddocks.

“If you feed the right amount of the right quality at the right time, you can maintain body weight quite easily and the cost isn’t particularly high for the dry mob.”

His calving cows had silage while the weaners had barley straw, silage, barley and a liquid protein supplement (StockGro-HiPro).

“That’s basically putting money where you earn the money, rather than putting money to where you don’t earn it,” he said.

“If I missed giving them supplement, you can see the intake of barley straw drop dramatically.”

Dry Season Feeding Recommendations

Paul has pulled together a table of supplement feeding recommendations that can generate maintenance and growth in different classes of cattle during dry periods when standing feed quality and quantity are lacking.

The idea is to allocate low quality feed to low producing animals while saving high quality feed for highly productive animals.

Efficient Dry Season Supplementary Feeding

Example: Paul recommends feeding ad lib barley or oat straw plus high quality hay or silage and StockGro-HiPro to growers can generate between 300 and 500g/hd/day growth.

*Assuming that silage/hay is around 10MJ/Kg ME and 10-12% Protein

Warning: StockGro-HiPro contains urea. Following a significant rain event, water will pool at the top of the tub. Mix in by hand to incorporate it into the product.

For more information about supporting your cattle during the dry period contact the team at AusFarm Nutrition Products today 0412 048 055