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Why Supplement Feed

Different feeding plans will deliver differing nutritional results for the herd. What mineral support is needed for common crops & feed types on NZ Farms?

Feed for Thought

When any new feed component is introduced to cattle the farmer must be mindful of how they transition animals onto the new feed.

Any change in diet will affect rumen function and will cause the bacterial makeup of the rumen to change. These changes take time, hence the diet should be changed very gradually, with optimal functioning of the rumen always being at the forefront of any changes implemented.

Common crops & feed types

The primary feed on most NZ dairy farms is still pasture grasses - primarily ryegrass and clover - but also chicory, plantain, cocksfoot, prairie grass, timothy, tall fescue and kikuyu.

Farmers will also draw on crops depending on location and prevailing conditions. The main crops utilised around the country are Triticale, Oats, Lucerne, Maize, Fodder beet and Brassicas (turnips, swedes, kale).

Crops and feeds do differ across the dairying regions. South Island farmers will more commonly use high energy crops such as fodder beet and kale over the winter months. These crops can cause a variety of mineral deficiencies in cattle, therefore mineral supplementation is essential when feeding them. Supplementary crops are becoming much rarer in the North Island, particularly for winter requirements - though many farmers still grow summer crops as an insurance against drought in the drier areas of the Island.

Why supplement a given feed?

Each feed will bring advantages, but also potential complications to the correct formulation of the diet.

Some feeds are very high in soluble sugar and may lack fibre, hence they need very careful balancing with other feeds to provide a balanced diet. Other feeds, such as brassicas, can be high in natural chemicals that can be very toxic if fed incorrectly. They can also be high in compounds that interfere with mineral uptake and hormone production.

These nutritional deficiencies need to be addressed when feeding these crops to ensure peak animal performance is maintained. Some feeds such as maize silage and fodder beet lack essential minerals such as phosphorous, calcium, magnesium, and sodium. Without correct balancing these feeds, if fed in sufficient quantity, can cause real issues with animal health and performance.

Need some advice?

Agvance takes a holistic approach to animal nutrition.

Total nutritional requirements are calculated based on the different feed components used in the diet. Mineral requirements are calculated in order to supplement any expected deficiencies, and meet full dietary requirements.

Reviewing both cattle and feed mineral concentrations the Customizer software is used as an aid in calculating the right mineral supplementation required.