Gibbs snubs feed straw

South Waikato News - - RURAL DELIVERY -

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.

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