WITH grass availability now becoming an issue on many farms throughout Ireland, the challenge becomes one of ensuring that cattle make best use of the forage that is available to them. This is particularly the case for freshly weaned calves, now in the first season at grass.
David Morgan, from Caltech Crystalyx, explains: “Irish research has confirmed that these animals must have access to an additional energy source in order to ensure that their rumens continue to develop, as required.
“Putting them on grass-only diets too soon can be one of the factors leading to a condition known as summer scour.”
According to David, one way of meeting this very specific nutritional requirement is to put Crystalyx ‘Cattle Booster’ feed buckets out with weanling calves throughout the first grazing season.
He continued: “The buckets represent a win:win scenario as they act to both provide the extra energy calves need for rumen development while also allowing the animals to utilise more efficiently the forage that is available to them.
“From a logistics point of view, the feed buckets can be easily moved with the weanlings as they are transferred from one grazing area to the next.
“The continuing dry spell has led to severe grass shortages on many farms with the result that the grass that is available must be utilised in the most efficient way possible.”
In addition, recent trials carried out in the UK, Germany and New Zealand have confirmed that diets comprising a combination of quality forage and Cattle Booster will help ensure that replacement dairy heifers meet all of their growth targets, calving down successfully at 24 months.
“The key driver of the diet must be quality grazed grass and silage,” added David. “Cattle Booster can be offered from weaning onwards. The feeding rate is 120g/head/day.”
Cattle Booster also provides all the minerals, trace elements and vitamins needed to balance grass. This is essential for optimal animal performance and health.
David again: “Cattle Booster acts to boost microbe numbers in the rumen. In turn this helps improve the digestibility of the silage on offer, whatever the quality.”
Independent university research shows the introduction of Cattle Booster will increase the dry matter intake of grass and improve the digestibility of that forage, whatever the quality.
Cattle Booster increases the rate of forage digestion by rumen bacteria (by up to 10 per cent). This stimulates grass intakes due to a reduced gut fill effect, increasing grass intake rather than replacing it.
These benefits continue throughout the grazing season.
Even autumn grass D values were improved by feeding Cattle Booster, by an average of 6.8 per cent – and increasing D value by six units effectively increases forage energy content by 1MJ/kg dry matter.”
A trial undertaken at Aberystwyth University with 240kg growing heifers on late summer/autumn grass showed that free access to Cattle Booster increased daily liveweight gains by 27 per cent over control heifers.