Gibbs snubs feed straw
Dairy farmers who add straw to their cows’ diet would be better off taking up yachting, says a rumen specialist.
Lincoln University expert Jim Gibbs spoke to about 100 farmers at DairyNZ’s FeedRight roadshow at the Westpac Taranaki Agricultural Research Station (WTARS) at Hawera last week.
Gibbs said adding straw to a pasture-based diet was a waste of money. Not one study showed an increase in milk production when straw was added.
"You’re replacing something that has an ME (metabolisable energy) of 12 with one that has an ME of six or eight. You’ll see either a loss of production or no change.
" You should take up yachting rather than feed straw. The effect on the cows will be the same and you’ll enjoy yourself a whole lot more."
WTARS was the last of 22 stops for the nationwide roadshow, which covered a range of topics about dairy cow nutrition. Sixty people also attended the roadshow in Inglewood.
A panel consisting of Gibbs, DairyNZ scientist Jane Kay and Canterbury consultant Terry Hughes answered questions about dairy cow nutrition.
Gibbs said the roadshows were held because it was difficult for farmers to obtain independent, unbiased information about feeding cattle. Much of the information available to New Zealand farmers was based on overseas research based on dairy cattle kept in stalls and fed grain.