Are you wasting your green feed?

Livestock agronomists offer advice on opitmising livestock performance on green feed

Beef
Photo: Lucy Kinbacher

Photo: Lucy Kinbacher

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A series of new webinars could assist producers feeding livestock.

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Producers who invested in preserving paddocks through drought have been rewarded with a quick grass response rate but livestock agronomists are reminding them not to waste the precious resource.

Strict confinement feeding systems and destocking approaches have paid for landholders who now have replenished paddocks after solid 2020 rainfall.

But in the rush to restock it is important not to forget key factors in optimising weaner performance on green feed.

Bayer's Grow program is offering livestock workshops online due to coronavirus travel restrictions with livestock agronomist and veterinarian Dr Rick White sharing his beef knowledge this Thursday from 1pm.

A sheep focused webinar is scheduled for May 7 from 1pm focusing on best practice pre-lambing management with other seasonally relative topics to follow.

Each will focus on management, nutrition, animal health and welfare.

Dr White said he would focus on helping producers understand the way the rumen operated so they could strategically supplement to improve feed efficiency rather than just weight gain.

"(Successful feeding plans) can make the difference between several weeks of weight gain verse weight loss which means you are either utilising the feed you have got or wasting it," he said.

Dr White said often producers forgot they were feeding a rumen system rather than just an animal and it needed time to adapt to feed sources.

"Just because you have got green feed doesn't mean you get maximum performance," he said.

"We look at the nutritional imbalances in green feed that challenge the way the rumen works; the challenges, mineral imbalances and the trace element deficiency which limit performance.

"Just because you have got lots of dry matter of high energy high protein feed, you don't always see that turning into really high kilograms of live weight gain particularly when they transition onto it and make changes from one type of feed to another.

"It's often a period of weeks before they pick up and show decent performance."

Quarantining protocols around new stock arrivals should be upheld to reduce the risk of disease or importing resistant parasites.

He noted that parasites were a new issue many producers hadn't faced in a long time with reports of significant outbreaks of Barber's Pole worm. Vaccinating for pulpy kidney may also need to be considered.

Producers to the webinar are encouraged to understand their target markets, particularly when optimising female growth.

"Often heifers are fed on green feed with the target of to get them out to breeding weight at a certain age so it's fairly important to understand what those targets are and make sure they are on track so you can allocate the feed resources as required," he said.

"Not to overdo it but not get to far behind that you have to then be forced into a corner where you either can't join or have expensive supplement feeding programs to catch them up.

"Understand what is the target for your joining weight, when do you need them there and therefore what growth rate are we trying to achieve because it's important to allocate the feed where it is going to give the best return.

"Particularly when a lot of the places we are dealing with the livestock enterprise is competing with cropping enterprise for available hectares."

The online webinars had already received positive feedback, allowing producers to tune in from their paddocks or during a lunch time office break.

Producers can engage with presenters and ask questions. For more information visit www.growsolutions.com.au/en/workshops/

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