2013-07-05  facebook twitter rss

Do a Forage Budget Urges FiveF

The difficult grass and maize growing conditions experienced by many ruminant livestock producers in recent years means it is crucial that winter forage stocks are planned carefully. Speaking at the Livestock Show [3-4 July 2013], Malcolm Graham from own grown feeds specialist FiveF urged farmers to do a forage budget.

“It has never been more important to estimate potential shortfalls in winter forage availability and quality. The sooner this is done the less disruptive the effect will be on cow health and performance. And if you plan properly now you will only have to make small adjustments over the longer period, which will be less costly in terms of bought-in feed, more advantageous to cash flow and better for the animals,” he said.


It has never been more important to estimate potential shortfalls in winter forage

Malcolm Graham said that the lousy weather throughout the spring and summer of 2012 culminated in a very difficult winter and many farmers ran out of forage. Now’s the time to take steps to ensure the coming winter is not as costly, particularly if you currently have your own cereals in the ground, he advised.

“With cereal prices likely to ease downwards over the coming weeks and bought-in protein costs remaining stubbornly high, it’s well worth capitalising on the potential winter feeding value of your own home-grown wheat, barley and oat crops.

“If you have cattle on the farm you’ve got to feed them somehow, so make sure you carefully review the options before defaulting to selling your cereals this year. With a simple change of mindset you really can offset the financial impact of another expensive bought-in protein winter by turning home-grown cereals into high energy, high protein forages or grain,” Malcolm Graham said.

FiveF is getting a surge of interest in alkaline preservation of wholecrop cereals, cereal straw and grain on farm for use in a wide variety of feeding situations. The process carries none of the losses associated with fermentation-based conservation and ensures cereal crops deliver their optimum nutritional potential.

“More and more farmers are asking us for advice. They have struggled to grow enough grass and maize recently because of the weather; reseeds have been difficult to establish and a lot of the grass they do have has been poached, restricting the amount available for silage production.

“But grain crops are very flexible. If you have a crop in the ground now you can take as much of it as forage and as much of it as grain as you want or need. You make the decision. And by adding specially formulated high protein pellets at harvest the nutritional value of your home-grown cereal can be transformed. Addition of the pellets aggressively releases ammonia into the crop, killing off moulds and bacteria, raising the pH to the alkaline range (pH 8.0 to 9.0). It also increases the protein levels in the grain and improves fibre digestibility.”

Malcolm Graham says the cost of this ‘home-grown’ protein is only around 49p/kg – considerably less than any potential outlay on bought-in material. “You also get the additional benefit of an alkaline diet for your cattle, which improves rumen function and efficiency, making acidosis less of a risk,” he said.


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