Many livestock producers are understandably keen to cut feed costs this winter by using low-cost cereals. But for farms without mixer wagons, the big question is how to achieve this without making feeding systems overly complicated and risking digestive upsets.

One answer, says KW technical manager Michael Marsden, is to use a high-cereal customised blend to replace traditional compounds or as an extra midday feed. Not only are blends a straightforward, convenient and safe way to increase cereal usage, but they also tend to be much better value than the equivalent compound.

“The key to incorporating more cereals into winter rations – whether for dairy, beef or sheep – is to make sure they are properly balanced with extra protein, plus some digestible fibre to help buffer the rumen,” he says.

“But that’s hard to do unless you’re using total mixed rations. For anyone else, a blend is about the only way to achieve the necessary balance without ending up with an overly-complicated feeding system.”

Specific blend formulations can be created that work well with in-parlour or out-of-parlour feeders, or for trough feeding livestock that’s housed or grazing. It’s also easy to include by-pass proteins, protected fats, yeasts, vitamins and minerals as needed.

“The opportunity to incorporate cereals in a balanced way, optimise nutrition and keep feeding simple is surely too good to miss,” states Dr Marsden. “It’s the ultimate in flexibility, with each new blend adjusted as feed requirements change, and load sizes anywhere between 5 and 29t to match the amounts being used.

“And as well as cost savings per tonne, there’s less capital tied up in stocks of individual straights, no extra labour and only a single storage area required, often the same one normally used for compounds. It’s not often that what’s best for your livestock is also best for your pocket.”