Feeding errors could be fatal

12 November 1999

Feeding errors could be fatal

AS livestock are housed and move on to winter rations, one Glos vet warns that feed can be fatal. Mixing mistakes, and foreign bodies getting into feed are hidden dangers that may not be obvious until its too late.

"Feeding is a responsible task. Where staff dont realise the implications of getting it wrong you can end up with a hell of a mess," says Gloucester vet Chris Watson.

He has attended several farms this year where cattle have either become extremely ill or died as a result of feeding mistakes. "Ive seen cases where tyres from silage clamps have ended up in mixer wagons and been fed to cows.

"During mixing plastic and steel break away from tyres and can kill cows when consumed with feed."

Lack of care when feeding straights can also lead to problems, he warns. "Problems can occur when rolled wheat is fed in troughs or on top of forage. One cow may see the feed and gorge herself before the others realise its there."

But by the time cows look ill, even when the vet is called, it is usually too late to save them. He advises incorporating cereals with forage to reduce risks.

Acidosis is not restricted to wheat, however, and any high protein or starchy straights can cause the condition. Confusing feeds and including incorrect quantities in rations can also lead to illness or death, he warns.

The increasing number of straights stored on farm also present a risk to livestock when animals escape, he says. "Few producers put gates in front of straights. Having a big heap of straights with no gate or fence in front of it on farm is asking for trouble." &#42

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