PRODUCERS hard-pressed for forage should open grass silage clamps for fresh calvers and could consider feeding maize gluten and possibly straw to supplement their ration, says Mole Valley Farmers.
However, with fresh calvers straw would fill the rumen and restrict feed intakes, says MVFs Luppo Diepenbroek.
Every 1kg dry matter of straw fed to early lactation cows would reduce peak yield by one litre.
But when bulk was needed in the diet, 1kg DM of silage could be replaced by 0.5kg DM of barley straw and 0.5kg DM maize gluten.
To safeguard milk quality the advice is to offer high cereal diets with rape, soya or fishmeal as protein sources.
As for youngstock, MVF nutritionist Luppo Diepenbroek says 4kg/day of maize gluten and 4kg/day of barley straw would give 0.5kg/day liveweight gain for about 71p a day – when considered in relation to straw at £70/t, and maize gluten at £110/t.
He advises against buying in feed to offer beef cattle or lambs as stores. It was better to sell them or feed them hard to finish quickly.
Alternative feeds should be evaluated carefully, and allowance made for DM of wet feeds.