Many farmers will be looking at the potential of low yields in their winter cereal and oil seed crops, so they will be considering grazing or fodder conservation as an option for salvaging something of more value from their crops,” Richard Meyer said.
Mr Meyer, a Feed Chemist is head of the NSW Department of Primary Industries (DPI) Feed Quality Service (FQS) at the Wagga Wagga Agricultural Institute and he was addressing growers during the Henty Farm Machinery Field Days in the Grains Research and Development Corporation marquee.
Measuring feed quality of their drought-affected crops is very important if farmers are to maximise their value for use on farm or to sell to boost cash flow.
“It is very important obviously if we are looking at conserving fodder in terms of silage and hay from drought stressed crops,” he said.
“What we have seen in previous years with feed quality is it can vary enormously in silage or hay made from theses crops which have been affected by the dry winter and spring.”
What we have seen in previous years with feed quality is it can vary enormously in silage or hay made from these crops which have been affected by the dry winter and spring
Mr Meyer stressed the importance of completing a feed test if producers are either using, selling or buying fodder for their stock.
“NSW DPI has a state-wide feed quality testing service based at the Wagga Wagga Agricultural Institute.”
The FQS offers a comprehenive commercial laboratory testing service for the analysis of animal feed including hay, silage and grain, mixed feeds and total mixed rations, pastures and forages. They are able to undertake competitively priced testing with a prompt turn-around time. The service is based on the latest technology and extensive research by some of NSW leading scientists. The FQS is the only facility in Australia that operates a laboratory which integrates research and commercial feed testing.
Boost the feed value of failing cereal crops
As the big dry continues, now is the time for producers to explore how to best maximize opportunities from moisture-stressed and frosted wheat and canola crops, according to NSW Department of Primary Industries (DPI) scientists.
NSW DPI researcher, John Piltz, said producers can maximize the nutritional value of failing cereal crops for animal production by making early decisions to graze or conserve crops.
“Dietary metabolisable energy (ME) is the key to animal production gains and ME declines in the post-vegative growth stage,” Mr Piltz said.
“We advise producers to accurately evaluate all their on-farm and sale options for potential grain production, grazing, hay and silage or agistment opportunities.
“If crop yield is low, less than two tonnes of dry matter per hectare, hay and silage making losses will be high and grazing would be recommended.
“Delay cutting from early October to early November on the chance of rain would reduce ME levels with a negative impact on feed quality and animal production.”
To better inform management decisions Mr Piltz and NSW DPI analytical feed chemist, Richard Meyer, have predicted steer live weight change using Grazfeed and compared with data from wheat and canola samples tested by NSW DPI’s Feed Quality Service (FQS).
Samples from 2008-09 and 2017-18 had an average ME of 9.0 megajoules (MJ) per kilogram of dry matter, which would deliver a predicted daily live weight gain of 0.37 kilograms per day for a nine-month old, 280 kg British breed steer.
The more ME animals eat, the quicker they grow, as long as crude protein, vitamins and minerals are kept in balance: as plants mature ME declines an average 0.05 MJ per day.