1 December 1995

Forages show low minerals

CHECK forage mineral levels to avoid deficiencies which could cause staggers, milk fever or poor fertility.

That was the message from Bibbys Duncan Rose, who warned producers that levels of all minerals are 10% lower than average in 200 samples tested.

That means a high risk of staggers for cows still at grass, he said. "The temptation is to keep them out on grass and feed silage, both of which may be low in minerals such as magnesium."

He was also concerned about dry cows and sucklers grazing lush, low mineral grass at a time when they need to build reserves. Milk fever and fertility problems after calving could result.

"In addition, producers with good quality silage may find cattle eat more of it," he said. "In these cases forage will form a greater proportion of the diet. So producers will need to buy feeds with high levels of minerals or give extra free-access or in-feed minerals."

Protein levels are also low in grass silage, he said. Such forages will need supplementing with concentrates up to 2% higher in protein. Sources of protein such as rape and sunflower meal are ideal, he added. &#42