Drought Feeding Options Without Molasses

AUSTRALIA - Cattle producers are reviewing their drought feeding options as the nine month long dry spell tightens its grip and access to molasses-based energy and protein supplements run out.
calendar icon 21 December 2009
clock icon 2 minute read

The Department of Employment, Economic Development and Innovation senior beef cattle extension officer Ken Murphy at Rockhampton said many livestock managers had committed to dry season supplementation programmes during winter.

"Demand for available molasses has now exhausted supply and with no access to molasses and urea (M8U) supplementation, producers must look for alternatives to enable cattle to survive on remaining pasture that has little or no nutritional value," Mr Murphy said.

"There are still some commercial liquid mixes being marketed that contain molasses and dunder but this form of supplementation has insufficient energy and protein content to sustain lactating cows."

Mr Murphy said cattle producers will now have to work with stockfeed suppliers to source whole cottonseed or copra meal, copra pellets or other limited lines of protein meals.

"Cottonseed is also in short supply and stocks will not be replenished until ginning of the 2010 cotton harvest gets underway in March," Mr Murphy said.

"Whole cottonseed fed at 2-3kg/head/day for lactating cows or 2kg or less for dry cattle depending on seasonal conditions will provide enough protein and energy to maintain the animals.

"When feeding copra products, 1kg/head/day will maintain a breeder.

"If resorting to a grain supplement, cracked sorghum or wheat fed at a rate of 3-4kg/head/day into troughs will carry them through or alternatively use a self feeder and reduce the grain flow to match the required intake."

Mr Murphy said there was no doubt that early weaning was a recommended management option to save the breeders.

"Small calves in the 60-80kg live weight range can be safely fed with a 19-20 per cent high protein weaner mix containing monensin as an active ingredient to prevent coccidiosis (scours)," he said.

"Those calves at 80kg or heavier should be fed a commercial weaner mix containing 15pc protein.

"Once the calves are taken off the nutritionally stressed lactating cows, they can be supplemented with a loose supplement mix based on salt and a high protein meal such as cottonseed meal."

Mr Murphy said all drought supplementation feeding programmes represented a significant financial commitment and while selling drought impacted cattle was an option, trucking poor conditioned stock raised animal welfare issues that must be taken into consideration.

Livestock producers who are not in Drought Declared Shires can apply for Individually Droughted Property (IDP) status by contacting the DEEDI Business Information Centre on 13 25 23.

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