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Get Full Value From Your Grazing

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Autumn grazing provides cattle and sheep with a nutrient rich feed and at just 6p/kg dry matter eaten compared to concentrates costing nearly four times that amount, it is clear that improved grass utilisation will directly impact farm profitability via improved animal performance whilst reducing feed costs.  Here, Rumenco Technical Adviser Laura Drury explains how producers can improve grazing utilisation this autumn.

“One of the major advantages UK farmers have over their European and international counterparts is the ability to grow high quality, nutrient rich grass for between seven and ten months of the year (geography dependent) owing to our temperate climate, (typical) good rainfall and favourable land” explains Ms Drury.  “But high-quality grass must be fully utilised in order to achieve its full value for optimal animal performance.”

“As protein markets rise this year then remember that the protein content of well-managed grass remains at over 20% throughout the grazing season (figure 1)” she continues.  “However, in order to fully utilise this protein (comprising around 90% rumen-degradable protein) then we must ensure an optimal supply of readily fermentable energy in the form of starch or sugar (figure 2).  If this is missing from the diet then we risk wasting potential valuable protein which could be used for milk production, the deposition of lean tissue mass in growing animals (even more so in continental breeds), wool production or simply maintenance of body condition.”

 

 

Figure 1: Seasonal crude protein (CP) content of grass (source: AHDB Dairy)

“Additionally, efficient utilisation of rumen degradable protein will help maximise the growth of the rumen microbe population therefore optimising forage and overall diet utilisation” she states.

 

 

 

 

Figure 2: Protein nutrition in ruminants

Whilst naturally-occurring soluble sugars found in grass offer the perfect source of energy for this purpose, research shows that their concentrations tend to decrease by around 50% from mid-summer through to autumn (figure 3).  This means that the recommended ratio of 2:1 sugar to protein is typically unobtainable without supplementation throughout the months of September and October.

 

 

 

Figure 3: Average water soluble carbohydrate (sugar) content of grass throughout a typical grazing season (source: Germinal)

“As a consequence, producers run the risk of protein not being fully utilised for animal performance and production, and instead going to waste in urine, faeces and as methane output” warns Ms Drury.

Autumn grazing provides cattle and sheep with a nutrient rich feed and at just 6p/kg dry matter eaten compared to concentrates costing nearly four times that amount, it is clear that improved grass utilisation will directly impact farm profitability via improved animal performance whilst reducing feed costs.  Here, Rumenco Technical Adviser Laura Drury explains how producers can improve grazing utilisation this autumn.

“One of the major advantages UK farmers have over their European and international counterparts is the ability to grow high quality, nutrient rich grass for between seven and ten months of the year (geography dependent) owing to our temperate climate, (typical) good rainfall and favourable land” explains Ms Drury.  “But high-quality grass must be fully utilised in order to achieve its full value for optimal animal performance.”

“As protein markets rise this year then remember that the protein content of well-managed grass remains at over 20% throughout the grazing season (figure 1)” she continues.  “However, in order to fully utilise this protein (comprising around 90% rumen-degradable protein) then we must ensure an optimal supply of readily fermentable energy in the form of starch or sugar (figure 2). 

"If sugar is missing from the diet then we risk wasting potential valuable protein which could be used for milk production, the deposition of lean tissue mass in growing animals (even more so in continental breeds), wool production or simply maintenance of body condition.”

“Additionally, efficient utilisation of rumen degradable protein will help maximise the growth of the rumen microbe population therefore optimising forage and overall diet utilisation” she states.

Whilst naturally-occurring soluble sugars found in grass offer the perfect source of energy for this purpose, research shows that their concentrations tend to decrease by around 50% from mid-summer through to autumn (figure 3).  This means that the recommended ratio of 2:1 sugar to protein is typically unobtainable without supplementation throughout the months of September and October.

“As a consequence, producers run the risk of protein not being fully utilised for animal performance and production, and instead going to waste in urine, faeces and as methane output” warns Ms Drury.

“Every producer is ultimately aiming to maximise profitability so through increasing the utilisation of protein from grazing, this will help support an improvement in animal performance whilst reducing the reliance on expensive protein-rich concentrates.”

Rumenco’s SUGARMAXX low moisture, controlled intake lick offers the perfect feeding solution for both cattle and sheep grazing autumn pastures this season. Containing up to double the sugar of standard energy licks, the little and often controlled intake of concentrated sugars (50%) provides a rumen-friendly method of supplying extra fermentable energy without causing digestive upsets to help with the utilisation of protein-rich pastures to support performance of growing and lactating animals.

In addition, SUGARMAXX is packed with minerals, vitamins and trace elements to help offset any potential deficiencies found in grazing, with the benefit of no added copper making it suitable for both cattle and sheep, including bolused cattle. The inclusion of Rumenco’s unique blend of natural plant extracts and fermentation products, Phytotec, also provides added support for optimal rumen health to support feed intake, digestion and animal performance.

“Autumn provides the last opportunity for cattle and sheep producers to utilise good grazing and given the continued emphasis on minimising expensive bought-in concentrates then ensuring nutrient-rich pastures are utilised to their full potential is the best option” Ms Drury notes.

“Achieving improved utilisation of protein supply from grazing with additional sugars is sure to be a good starting point for maximising animal performance, and most importantly, profit this autumn.”

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