Home' Smart Farmer : May 2014 Contents Smart supplementary feeding
SmartFarmer • May 2014
The right feed supplementation program to fill energy gaps helps many aspects of production, especially for small area farmers.
By PAULA THOMPSON
THERE can often be a feed gap at this
time of year -- at the start of the season
-- requiring supplementary feeding of
animals to maintain condition.
But Hills Farm Supplies business partner
Anthony Pearce, who is also a ruminant nutri-
tionist and co-principal of Telpara Suffolks
and Telpara Hills Brangus and Charolais stud,
says there are a number of steps small area
farmers can undertake to ensure they are not
caught short for feed.
"There are a multitude of reasons why you
might need supplementary feed, including
finishing stock out of season and moving last
season's lambs off the property, through to
cows calving and having an increased energy
requirement to rear a calf and successfully get
back in-calf," he said.
Mr Pearce's company services clients across
SA, from the Eyre Peninsula to the South East,
as well as the Adelaide Hills and Fleurieu
Peninsula, and into Victorial, Queensland and
the Northern Territory.
He says at this stage of the season there has
been a good break but there is limited pastures
to meet increased energy requirements in ani-
mals, with cows calving and ewes beginning
to lamb and breeding stock through lactation.
"The right feed supplementation program
to fill the energy gap helps in many produc-
tion aspects, from improved survival rates
of newborn stock, higher-quality colostrum
and increases in milk production, you're also
increasing the likelihood of conceiving again
early in the breeding season," he said.
"This is so important if you're a small-area
farmer running a small herd. If you're only
running 10 cows, and getting nine in-calf,
you've lost 10pc of production, if it's eight
in-calf, it's a 20pc drop."
Mr Pearce said it was important to assess the
body condition of animals, so farmers could
make the best decision when allocating feed
"Knowing the quality of your conserved
feeds -- be it hay, silage or grain -- is important
as it is right now that you want your best feeds
to go into the right classes of animal, those
who need it the most to compensate for the
limited feed in the paddock," he said.
"If you are really tight for feed, sowing
annual ryegrasses or forage cereals before the
break of the season is exceptionally important.
"For each day after the break of the season
that you delay sowing, you lose around 15
to 20 kilograms of dry matter production
potential per hectare over the season."
Mr Pearce said while sowing early could be
a risk, it is often one that pays off.
"If the season has not broken by Anzac Day,
then dry sowing becomes an excellent option
to achieve some quick feed as soon as the
season does break," he said.
"Historically, the number of good rain
events occurring in close succession increase
significantly in late April compared to early
April, where rain effects are more sporadic.
"It is always a gamble going in early. You
need to balance up the risk with the reward."
Mr Pearce said sometimes weed control
came at the cost of adequate feed supplies.
"When people say their biggest problem is
lack of feed, their number one priority has
got to be getting feed on the ground," he said.
"Rather than waiting for weed control, it's
important to get crops on the ground before
the soil temperature drops.
"Particularly for smaller-area farmers, you
often see people wait and try to get on top of
weed control, and sometimes that overshad-
ows the fact they're missing an opportunity to
grow more feed."
Early sowing pays off most years
Carefully monitor livestock condition
Hay prices lower than last year
Whoppa Choppa cuts down wastage
THE Whoppa Choppa is a multi-purpose
fodder chopping and feeding machine
that enables livestock to be fed quickly
The power-takeoff wagon usually cuts
hay or silage in five-centimetre to 15cm
lengths before dropping the fodder into
neat 30cm to 60cm windrows.
This means all stock, from the greedi-
est through to timid heifers, get a fair
chance at the feed.
Cutting feed into specific lengths
makes them more digestible and, as a
result, livestock go on to produce better
meat, wool and milk yields and improve
their overall health.
Wastages are kept to a minimum
as fodder is not being trampled on
or strewn around the paddock. Many
farmer-owners have cut down fodder
usage by up to 30 per cent.
The Whoppa Choppa needs to be pow-
ered by a 40-kilowatt to 55kW tractor.
One round bale will usually stretch to
form a 50-metre to 150m long windrow
after being processed through the
Hydraulically operated forks are
used to lift and load a large bale and
transport a second bale. The hydraulically
controlled feed rollers then move the
bale onto the cutting drum knives that
cut the fodder and discharge it in a neat
narrow windrow onto the ground.
Optional elevators in various widths
and heights can be added to discharge
material into feeding troughs or large
fodder mixer wagons.
Whoppa Choppa is low-maintenance
-- just grease the machine at regular
intervals and sharpen cutting knives
Quality used units are also available.
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The Whoppa Choppa cuts hay or silage in lengths of 5cm to 15cm before dropping the fodder
into neat 30cm to 60cm windrows.
Mr Pearce said sowing crops could often be
its own form of weed control.
"When you're planting to other species,
weeds have competition for space, light and
nutrition, and that has its own own effect on
weed control," he said.
When supplementary feeding cattle, Mr
Pearce said sheep usually gained more ben-
efits when fed grain.
"With sheep, we see more wastage with
hay and more benefits from grain-feeding,"
"The cattle are more successful at getting the
most out of hay and silage.
"Because the size of the rumen in sheep
is smaller, they don't handle the amount of
high-fibre feed in hay and silage as well."
Mr Pearce said that during lambing, ewes
benefited from receiving 2-2.5kg of grain a
He said feed supplies varied across the
Fleurieu Peninsula and Adelaide Hills region.
"The Fleurieu Peninsula is fairly tight for
feed, they didn't get the rains the Adelaide
Hills received earlier in the year," he said.
"There was a flush of feed in the Adelaide
Hills from the rain we had in February, but
there were no follow-up rains so feed is still
"While it's been a good start to the season, it
is still a typical start, and a bit tight for feed."
Hay prices are lower than this time last year.
"Reasonable rain in the Mid North last
season meant good hay stocks have been put
away from last year," he said.
"Even though hay prices are lower than
last year, it doesn't mean producers can be
complacent with feed supplies.
"You can't predict hay prices and how
the season is going to turn out. If it's a tight
season, prices can rise very quickly."
Mr Pearce said it was important to work out
a good fertiliser strategy to ensure producers
were maximising how much grass they grew.
"It could just be an extra application of
fertiliser, some extra nitrogen, that makes all
the difference," he said.
• Need to know more?
Anthony Pearce, email@example.com
or 0467 600 061.
The exceptionally robust Australian designed Whoppa Choppa
chops and feeds round and square bales of hay and silage.
The Universal Livestock Fodder Processor
"Whether an Abundance or a Drought, still need to Feed Fodder Efficiently"
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0418 591 678
Ph: (03) 5678 8880 Fax: (03) 5678 8247
email: firstname.lastname@example.org www.grahamwoodmachinery.com.au
• Minimise Wastage
• Maximise Production
• Processes fodder to ideal length for
"tickle factor" in rumen
• Ideal paddock feeding
• Suit cattle, dairy, sheep, deer, goats
• Optional elevators to suit feed
pads and/or feedlots
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