Dos and donts of grazing stubble

By district veterinarian Jillian Kelly

Some people around the district are making use of what they have got, and are running cattle on failed or stripped crop. There are a few things to watch out for and do, in order to get the best use of all that feed.

  • The first thing to do, is to keep an eye on the animals’ manure. Next time you clean the trough out, have a look around the trough at the cow pats. Is there lots of whole grain in the manure? If this is the case, you may have some animals in the mob that have sub clinical acidosis.
  • Make sure you’ve got lime and salt in the paddock which will increase salivation and bicarbonate production. There are other buffers you can put out as loose licks to help buffer if this is really a problem.
  • As the animals chew through the crop, the amount of grain available will decrease, and they will end up just eating stubble or stalks.  In this case, the manure will “stack up” in piles like pyramids, indicating that there is lots of fibre in the diet and poor ruminal digestion occurring.  If this is the case, supplying a lick to stimulate rumen activity would be a good idea.   These sorts of licks typically contain sugars and urea and come in two main forms:
  1. The first is a syrup that contain molasses and urea – some of these are appetite limited so that the stock will only eat 500ml/1Litre per day, others are free licks where you will have to put them in a roller drum or find some other way of limiting their daily intake.
  2. The second option is a dry, powdered lick, usually containing sugars, vegetable proteins and urea.  You can put these out in a cut-off drum and they are usually appetite limited so that the animal eats 50-150g per head per day.

Once you start using these licks, you should see the manure look less like a pyramid, and more like a sloppy cow pat.  The interesting things you can learn by looking at cow poo in the paddock!

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