Grassis still growing on many farms as 2014 kicks off with more of the mild, stormyweather that characterised the end of 2013. So much so that grazing may lookabundant at the moment, but low dry matter winter pasture is not enough tosustain optimum cattle and sheep performance, warns Rumenco.
Inmany areas of the country rainfall has been so substantial that out-winteringsheep and beef cattle are grazing nothing more than green water. Grass maylook plentiful at the moment, but it is typically extremely wet and of lowquality, says Rumenco technical manager David Thornton.
MrThornton points out that most of the pasture on offer currently contains morethan 85% moisture and pregnant cattle and sheep may not be able to consumeenough dry matter to meet intake and nutrient demands.
Itmay seem counterintuitive to put hay out when grass seems abundant, but thiswill help boost dry matter intake on wet pastures. Hay will also decrease therate at which forage passes through the ruminant digestive system, which willhelp stock make the most of what forage is available to them.
Healso advocates the benefits of blocks or buckets as the optimum supplementarynutrient delivery system in wet grazing situations, in preference to troughfeeding.
Continuedwet weather certainly adversely affects nutrient uptake from grazing so to havea concentrated energy, protein, vitamins and minerals source on offer makessense. But bear in mind that mud around troughs can also affect feedingbehaviour. Poached areas create a suction effect on the hooves of cattle makingit hard for them to move around feeders. And if you are travelling out totrough feed every day the ground will be churned up even more.
Healso adds that at this time of year its not great for pregnant livestock to becompeting aggressively for nuts as soon as you arrive with the feedbag.
Blocksand buckets offer a much calmer, less labour intensive supplementary feedingsolution, as well as being the peace of mind option in wet conditions becausethey also promote better foraging behaviour and forage utilisation.
Rumevitefeed blocks are a especially good value for money supplement option at thistime of year for pregnant ewes in mid-gestation needing to develop theplacental tissues necessary for a successful lambing, particularly in thesewet, low dry matter grass conditions. This is because they offer a more substantialnutritional contribution than low intake bucket-based supplements, he says.