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Dry Spell Causes Grass Concerns

01 August 2013

UK - Many feed manufacturers and nutritionists are being contacted regarding scorched pastures following the July heatwave.

Care should be taken in any year, advises Rumenco technical manager, David Thornton as every grazing season sees sward digestibility decline as the summer progresses.

This year, supplementation could turn out to be especially important because of the dry period, he adds.

"The hot sunshine and lack of rain in most parts of the country over the last few weeks has accelerated the usual mid to late summer decline in grass quantity and quality. Farmers are now very concerned about finishing stock growth rates,” says Mr Thornton.

He points out that even in good grass growing years the growth rates of cattle and lambs decline as the season progresses. “This is simply because of the natural fall off in grass sward digestibility. But in a drought year this digestibility deterioration simply accelerates and you can even find your animals losing weight.”

He adds that the late summer, post weaning period is also the time when breeding stock need to recover body condition loss caused by lactation. It’s also important to prepare ewes for tupping so that they are on a rising plane of nutrition before they go to the ram.

“Last winter’s harsh conditions highlighted the importance of having stock in good condition with plenty of body reserves and unless farmers take action now they will be storing up problems for next winter. Consequently it is important to find some way of supplementing what grass is available.”

Mr Thornton says that many farmers turn to straw to maintain growth rates in young cattle and lambs – and to keep milk output up in ewes and suckler cows – but this in short supply and expensive. Rumenco says farmers should look at feed blocks.

“Rumevite is proven to encourage fuller utilisation of dried pastures through increased foraging behaviour. For example, introducing Rumevite will typically improve cattle growth rates by 0.2-0.3kg/head/day and improve the weaning weights of suckler calves. And do it very cost-effectively.”

Rumenco says that if grass is sparse it is advisable to make some form of additional forage available. This can be silage, hay or straw. The other key benefit offered by Rumevite is mineral supplementation.

Salt intake is particularly important in hot weather and by offering a fully formulated feed block no additional supplements are necessary. To keep feed blocks fresh they should be placed in containers near water troughs or in the shade in summer time.

TheCattleSite News Desk



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