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Utilising Annual Cereals For Livestock

24 November 2009

CANADA - As well as experiencing feed shortages following the dry growing season, producers may find it necessary to feed more animals. The additional feed requirements may partially be met by the harvesting of annual crops to supplement current hay production and carryover stocks.

"There are several points to consider when using annual cereals as forages for livestock," says Barry Yaremcio, forage specialist with Alberta Agriculture and Rural Development. "Feed test forages, grains and straw prior to the start of the feeding period. Develop balanced rations to prevent production and reproduction problems, optimise the use of feeds available and to minimise costs. If help is required to balance rations, talk to a qualified nutritionist. Remember that young animals are fed to grow and develop, while mature stock is fed to maintain condition over winter and to provide a live calf next spring. The winter feeding programme can dramatically affect reproductive efficiency for the next year's calf crop."

Alberta Agriculture and Rural Development have produced a new fact sheet, Utilising Annual Cereals for Livestock Feed that provides information and advice on:

  • feeding cereal forage, and the differing nutrient levels avoiding the problems that can arise when feeding rough-awned barley and foxtail barley;
  • testing for possible higher than usual levels of nitrate in annual crops;
  • how to adjust feeding practices according to feed quality and herd needs;
  • what to look for and how to minimise cows' conception problems that can occure;
  • how producers can avoid Atypical Interstitial Pneumonia how to make silage or greenfeed with forages when quality can be reduced dry growing conditions.

"The nutrition topics addressed above can be evaluated by using a ration balancing programme," says Mr Yaremcio. "Producers can develop their own rations at home. A useful computer programme is the Cowbytes ration balancing programme available from Alberta Agriculture and Rural Development."

For a free demo version of Cowbytes go online to www.agriculture.alberta.ca/ and search Cowbytes

Further Reading

- You can view the fact sheet by clicking here.

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