The im­por­tance of feed­ing cat­tle roughage dur­ing the win­ter months

North East & Goulburn Murray Farmer - - HAY AND SILAGE - By DR JEFF CAVE District Vet­eri­nary Of­fi­cer, Agri­cul­ture Vic­to­ria

EVEN if there is new growth of pas­ture and you are us­ing var­i­ous sup­ple­men­tary feeds, you could ask – why feed roughage.

Roughage is the bulky feeds that are mostly con­sid­ered to be high in fi­bre and low in en­ergy.

Roughage is needed to be fed to your live­stock this win­ter for a num­ber of rea­sons.

Even though some roughage may be left un­eaten, for di­ges­tive func­tion live­stock re­quire a min­i­mum amount of fi­bre and long roughage to main­tain their di­ges­tive sys­tems, this is some­times known as the ‘scratch fac­tor’ and stim­u­lates ru­mi­na­tion (cud chew­ing).

When mov­ing live­stock onto green pas­ture, their ru­men needs time to ad­just to a new feed type.

Newly grow­ing pas­ture may not have ad­e­quate fi­bre lev­els - it may be bet­ter to sup­ple­ment stock to al­low the pas­ture to es­tab­lish and de­velop.

Hun­gry cat­tle need to be pre­vented from gorg­ing them­selves on pas­tures that may have po­ten­tial to cause ni­trate poi­son­ing or bloat.

If feed­ing grain or pel­lets with too lit­tle roughage, aci­do­sis or grain poi­son­ing can oc­cur.

As we move fur­ther into win­ter, hay may be needed to re­duce grass tetany risks and al­lows a way of ad­min­is­ter­ing Caus­mag.

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