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Check ingredients of livestock feed

Nigel Brown, Northern Tablelands Local Land Services District Vet - Glen Innes

Around the Northern Tablelands we are seeing more and more livestock deaths as a result of incorrect rations. Please carefully check the ingredients of rations you buy or mix yourselves that you are feeding out to livestock.

Why?

As feedstuffs become ever harder to buy, prices continue to rise and the variation in quality increases.

This year we have seen deaths, among other issues, related to:

  • inadequate feed and starvation as hay, silage and other roughages do not have enough energy and protein to sustain livestock;
  • mineral imbalances from inadequate supplementation of calcium and magnesium for some rations;
  • mineral poisoning from rations containing raw ingredients with levels of minerals higher than some livestock can tolerate. For instance, grape marc is known to be high in copper and sheep are not so tolerant of copper in the diet so ruminant pellets containing grape marc could pose a threat to sheep;
  • nitrate and cyanide/prussic acid poisoning from crops harvested when under stress. Dangerous feed can be identified by lab testing but not by visual inspection;
  • too much easily fermenting whole cereal in home-made rations or added to some Dry Distillers Grain (DDG) pellets resulting in acidosis, abomasal (stomach) ulcers, pulpy kidney/enterotoxaemia, laminitis (lameness) and nephritis (kidney diseases);
  • inadequate energy and protein so bacteria die out and fermentation stops, resulting in impacted omasum and abomasum (stomach) with rupture and peritonitis;
  • Botulism mostly from silage so seriously consider vaccination.

The list goes on….

Warnings

  • All bought-in fodder should be accompanied by a Commodity Vendor Declaration (CVD). It is free so ask for one and make sure you get it! Make certain the feed you are buying is fit for the purpose you are buying it for.
  • When you are feeding fodder of unknown provenance, ask suppliers or producers about high-risk components, like grape marc. If in doubt ask your supplier specific questions and get a written answer.
  • There is some pretty ordinary feed on the market at the moment – frosted, drought-stressed etc., so get a feed analysis to help you make a ration mix that provides adequate nutrition for your animals.

Remember

  • The unborn calf or lamb grows most in the last third of pregnancy. This means increasingly less room in the abdomen for feed as the pregnancy advances and that is when the quality of the feed needs to be best.
  • Different types of livestock have different feed requirements. Most livestock have very little reserves at the moment and are unable to tolerate miscalculations or oversights in feed quality, quantity and make-up. It is essential to meet their nutritional requirements or they will suffer.

Advice

Contact your Local Land Services District Vets or Livestock Officers on 02 6732 8800 if you have concerns about the health of your livestock or for specific information about your ration.

Media contact: Annabelle Monie, Communications Officer – 0429 626 326