THIS summer’s prolonged dry weather is beginning to cause real issues for many cattle and sheep producers across the UK as grazing becomes scarcer at a time when grass growth and subsequent livestock performance should be at its best, says Dr Alison Bond, ruminant nutritionist for Rumenco.
Although it may be tempting to hold off on supplementation, the cost of feeding for an extra 1kg of liveweight gain later in the animal’s life, and subsequently later in the season, may be as much as double as the animal matures. Alternatively, the consequences of selling under-finished animals may reduce income by about £5 and £18 per lamb and steer sold respectively.
“Across much of the country, pastures are becoming depleted with animals who are not supplemented potentially suffering weight loss and a reduction in health and performance,” explains Dr Bond.
Numerous trials conducted over the years with all classes of ruminant livestock have shown supplementation of sparse grazing will typically increase cattle growth rates and achieve extra margin per head.
Although ewes are past peak lactation, they need to be preparing for tupping and can’t afford to lose any body condition. Feeding a free-access supplement such as Rumevite at this time will help support this preparation as well as supplying key minerals, vitamins and trace elements.
For maintenance a ewe needs 1kg grass on a DM basis during summer time – if dry weather continues, they will struggle to get this and consequently face a loss of body condition which can have a negative impact on conception as we head towards tupping time.
“Rumevite feed blocks provide energy and protein required for growth and maintenance to achieve DLWG targets, whilst also providing key minerals, vitamins and trace elements. The little and often feeding provides a flow of nutrients through the rumen, helping to support a healthy rumen bug population. This supports forage digestibility, ensuring stock make the most of the grass or forage that they do have. Rumevite All Season in particular is a high energy and protein feed and mineral block for cattle and sheep with access to lower quality grazing to support optimal health and performance,” explains Dr Bond.
“Supplementing dwindling grazing sooner rather than later will help keep growth and performance on track with younger animals having improved efficiency of growth and so improved return on investment of feed offered,” concludes Dr Bond. “Reaching markets at closer to peak values adds further value to the finished stock too, so delaying acting could end up costing you more than it saves.”
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