Quantify remaining silage stocks, recalculate feed-out rates, and secure additional feeds now. That’s the advice from KW nutritionist Charlotte Ward, as delays to spring turnout leave many farms short of forage.
“An extra two or three weeks fully housed can mean an additional 56 tonnes of ration dry matter for a typical 200-cow herd,” she says. “So check forage and feed stocks now and put a plan of action in place.”
“Make milking cows the priority – growing animals will do fine on poorer quality forage plus a distillery syrup or high protein liquid feed. And fill any remaining forage gaps with wheat-gluten moist feed, draff or brewers’ grains. These are high in energy, fibre and protein, and won’t upset the rumen if fed alongside a minimum of between 6kg and 7kgDM per day of long-chopped forage,” explains Ms Ward.
Dry feed alternatives
Dry feed alternatives recommended by Ms Ward include custom blends and sodawheat, with wheatfeed probably the most cost-effective straight feed option. She adds that good prices and availability make distillery liquids a good option where extra energy and rumen degradable protein is needed.
“If you’re concerned about rumen function being disrupted, it’s worth considering a rumen conditioner or active live yeast. Just remember to also recalculate first-cut dates and add on the six weeks needed for silages to stabilise in the clamp.”