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Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Final notes on drought feeding cattle

Firstly an update on feeding sprouted grain to our three cattle. They (or at least one) is licking the feeder clean).

They did this overnight and we couldn't confirm if they all got involved or if it was just whinging Warren who is the most vocal every morning. We are continuing with the diluted molasses over the grain.

Hector with Martinique in the background

The following notes are just random but they do contain some interesting pieces of information.

  • Cattle start to use up muscle after their fat score goes down to 2.
  • Once the fat score falls below 2 it takes 2-3 months for the animal to recover even when using good grass, hay or silage and grain. There was some discussion about Selenium as a supplement aiding the recovery if calves are removed.
  • Calves take 6 months to recover
  • Cows with calves really get pulled down quickly in dry weather and dairy breeds even more so. Genetics plays a big part.
  • Calving at 2 years is too young as it sets the mothers back permanently
  • Calf pellets are well formulated but expensive
  • Mineral licks are good in these conditions
  • With protein supplements you need abundant grass as they drive intake of food
  • A calf in poor condition will cost $65/month to bring back to good condition
  • Calves should be weaned if the mothers fat score drops to 2
  • The problem with low quality feed is that the animal feels full, constantly chews, does not gain nutrition and loses weight
  • 5 in 1 needed at least 10 days before change in diet to prevent Pulpy Kidney and death. Even for things as minor as going from dry feed to irrigated feed
  • Cattle will eat things they shouldn't when feed is low and may become ill and die
  • "Maintain" is not the best option. It is better to fatten up to a saleable condition
  • If cows are fatter you run fewer head but require less energy to put weight back on
  • If the ideal carcass weight is 300 kg and that reduces to 160 kg it becomes the "tip over point" and then that animal will need a diet of 10 MJ to recover. It will need to be able to eat 1% of its body weight each day
  • Don't bare the ground out
  • The more grazed down the slower the pasture is to recover
  • 50 mm of cover is the minimum
  • Fireweed and Giant Parramatta grass thrive in low pasture
  • In this part of the world November to February is the most difficult time
  • The last time there was no rain in February was in 1965
  • Rye Grass going to seed is poor quality feed and best left alone.
  • Kikuyu is good feed.
  • Too much fussing with Summer crops, get Kikuyu
  • Ideal drought feed is 15% hay plus supplements
  • Start preparing for the next drought 3 months after the last flood.

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