Tuesday, January 21, 2020

Mitigate wet pasture challenge to overwintered pregnant stock

December 23, 2019 by  
Filed under Livestock

High rainfall and saturated pastures conditions mean livestock producers should consider supplementary feeding out-wintered suckler cows and ewes.

Rainfall has been so substantial that some sheep and beef cattle are grazing little more than green water, says Alison Bond, nutritionist for Rumenco. “Grass may look plentiful at the moment, but in these conditions, it is typically extremely wet and of low quality.”

High moisture content will inhibit pregnant cattle and sheep from consuming enough dry matter to meet intake and nutrient demands during pregnancy. But supplementing pastures with poor quality forage or straw can help to resolve this.

“Assessing grazed and supplemented forage for quality and quantity will help determine how much additional dry matter is needed,” explains Dr Bond.

For livestock of adequate body condition at breeding, forage should be low in energy to ensure body condition is maintained ahead of lambing or calving. Adding unnecessary weight during mid to late gestation will predispose livestock to metabolic issues.

While feeding low quality forage or straw can provide rumen fill, it should be balanced with protein, vitamins and minerals. An effective way to do this is to feed a high protein mineral block or low moisture bucket to help intake and utilisation of rough grazing.

This will provide adequate protein supplementation while also delivering essential vitamins and trace elements that tend to be diluted in high moisture forage. “This includes trace elements like selenium, cobalt and zinc that are essential during foetal development.”

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