Consider your feeding options this summer

By Rodney Woods

Summer is four moths away and maintaining good nutrition for your livestock is essential, especially in hot weather.

Heat reduces an animal's appetite and can also change the way cows process nutrients.

Although forage is not a high-proteinic feed, the quality and amount of fibre fed remain critical as it maintains rumen stability and retains nutrient density without producing excessive metabolic heat.

However, hay and silage bales are a precious resource, especially in drought, but three factors can make a big difference on your bottom-line.

Reduce wastage

Hay wastage depends on harvesting and storage techniques, but more importantly on the way it is fed out.

More than 40 per cent of your hay could be wasted because of losses associated with your feeding method.

One popular feeding method is manually unrolling a round or square bale on the ground in a thick matt.

Another system, bale processing, is to chop the forage and feed out in large, thick windrows, resulting in huge losses because the hay is quickly blown away or trampled because it is fed in one location.

Alternatively, the mounted or trailed chainless bale feeders from Hustler Equipment are designed to maximise every kilo of feed, gently teasing it apart, making it more palatable and allowing you to feed out an exact amount in a long, thin windrow, reducing nutritional loss and waste.

Preserve goodness

Most operations put a lot of time, money and effort into harvesting and storing the highest-quality hay possible.

Doesn't it seem like you should carefully consider how you feed it out?

To maximise nutritional uptake, it is essential to fluff the hay out, so the nutrients retained in the leaves or grain are not destroyed and lost.

Though being cost-effective is a key concern, it is far from the only worry.

For most livestock farmers, the main reason for allowing unlimited access to hay is the time and convenience.

A study conducted by Dennis Hancock, from the University of Georgia, compared the time expended feeding hay and showed that using a chainless bale feeder was even faster than a traditional hay unroller or even a hay ring.

Manage your pasture

The benefits of using a chainless bale feeder is not all about hay savings.

Did you know that for every 400 kg bale fed in your pasture, your cows will return $15 to $25 in nutrients to the soil in the form of fertiliser?

Regular pasture reseeding increases pasture productivity, but it is a huge time and money investment.

Ideally, feeding in a new part of the pasture every day in a long windrow gives animals equal access to feed while the unconsumed hay drops seeds into the ground.

Your whole pasture can be reseeded quickly and inexpensively, and can reduce soil compaction by keeping the animals spread out.