Go straight for greater flexibility

Dairy cow and even beef finisher diets correctly formulated using straight feeds can provide farmers with greater flexibility over ration constituents cost.

But you will end up in big trouble unless you know the precise nutritional properties of the feeds you are dealing with.

That is the advice of Cumbria-based feed consultant Jerry Trowbridge.

After a lifetime in the feed industry there is no one more enthusiastic about using straights in cattle diets.

But he says it is essential to base diet formulations on expert advice.

“Higher output from lower costs – that’s the simple advantage of using straights.

But I have known farmers use all sorts of unusual straight feeds and although they can be successfully incorporated into rations, you have got to know what you are dealing with.

“Some feeds, when fed incorrectly, can have a detrimental impact on production and health and can even kill cows through acidosis.

Straights provide an opportunity to be innovative and experimental, but you need the know-how to go with it.”

Mr Trowbridge advises farmers to set up a balanced diet using conventional raw materials, but leave “space” to be able to take advantage of bargain offers when they arise.

“If glucose syrup suddenly becomes available it could be used instead of molasses, but they are two different products and can’t be replaced as equivalents.”

Most straights store well when kept dry and clear of vermin and birds, says Mr Trowbridge, who says all straight feeds should be bought from a UAS, FEMAS or SFQC-approved merchant to provide a degree of security and ensure traceability.