Let’s Talk More On Grain Feeding

Many of Australia’s cattle producers are starting to feed grain to their stock. However, to get the best results, the balance of a ration is more important than the type of grain or inputs used.

Many of the rations we review lack enough effective chewable fibre. Providing a minimal amount of fibre in the diet is critical to reduce the risk of acidosis and poor rumen health.

Self-feeders can be difficult to get enough fibre in the bin without causing problems with auguring or bridging. There are plenty of flowable fibre sources available if you don’t have the ability to mill straw.

Cattle and sheep can still get into trouble (acidosis) if they are able to separate the grain and hay, so the length of the fibre is also another critical consideration to minimise sorting.

Someone said to me this week that they always lose a couple of head when feeding grain. This ultimately has an impact on feedlot profitability and should not happen with a balanced ration.

When weight gains are low, cattle are scouring or have sore feet, then you are losing money. Cattle don’t get over sore feet… they may stop limping but the rumen lining has been permanently damaged and that animal will never be able to achieve its maximum weight gain. This problem is caused by a lack of “floating fibre” in the rumen and therefore the fermentation of the grain has occurred at the bottom of the rumen in contact with the rumen wall.

Barley is my preferred grain for feedlot rations, but we can formulate rations with all types of grain. Many concentrates out there have high levels of urea, which is often not required and can have a negative impact and reduce weight gains.

We offer a free ration formulation service and if required, we can organise for the testing of your feedlot ingredients. Alternatively, we have the average calibrations for nearly all ingredients so it’s not necessary to have your feed tested for us to review your ration.

Remember, don’t test your ration. Instead, test the raw materials (particularly silage, hays and grain) as this allows us to “fix” a ration when we know the analysis of these materials.

One final point, if you are forced to feed hay in a rack, before you talk with us, aim to weigh some bales as this is critical for us to be able to calculate fibre intake.

Our MegaMin Feedlot Enhancer concentrate is suitable for stud, bulls, grain assist, weaning, cull cows, dairy heifers and feedlot rations. If you have the facilities to mix your own ration then let us review your mix. If it’s not broken we won’t fix it, but if we can increase weight gains for you then we’ve added value to your business.

For further information, please contact AgSolutions on 1800 81 57 57.