Are your livestock eating their greens?

Pasture testing over the last two months across the South East region is showing that green feed is still good and unlikely to be the primary cause of poor livestock performance this season.

Matt Lieschke, Senior Ag Advisor with South East Local Land Services said the results from recent testing are as expected, with green material testing well in terms of digestibility and energy.

“The green feed that we’ve sampled has tested up well, with most samples sitting around 70% digestibility,” Mr Lieschke said.

“From a pasture perspective, the bigger issue at present is the general lack of clover in paddocks and the amount of poor-quality, dead feed.”

“In contrast to the high-quality green material, the results confirmed that the dead feed has very little nutritive value, with dry matter digestibility ranging from 39 - 48% digestible.”

Sheep were more able to access and select green parts of pasture where available than cattle, Mr Leischke said.

“Livestock will do their best at selecting out the green component in the pasture – the question is, can they readily access the green or do they need to take some dead with it?”

Even if animals are largely eating green material, it doesn’t take much dead feed in the diet to really pull back livestock performance, he said.

“In seasons like this when there’s a mixture of green and dead material in pastures we need to pay close attention to what stock are grazing and provide an appropriate supplement if required.”

“Livestock have really struggled this year for a whole range of reasons and is some cases it’s been put down a lack of ‘guts’ in the pasture.

“The recent testing should give producers confidence that green feed is still good.”

Although the results from the recent testing is very positive, Mr Lieschke points out that it hasn’t always been the case this year.

“Some of the pasture testing in autumn did show up some lower numbers and there were instances where energy and protein were out of balance.

“I think this explains why we saw some poor stock performance earlier in the year.

“While green feed has certainly improved in digestibility as the season has progressed, animal health issues have also increased dramatically and are having a huge impact, especially worms.

“Poor stock performance in most cases this year is from a combination of factors including pasture quality, worms, liver fluke and bad weather.”

For advice on supplementation and pasture assessment contact South East Local Land Services on 1300 795 299.

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