21 November 2023, AU: Grazing stubbles provides a valuable tool to fill the summer feed gap. So, how do we know what value is in a stubble and when we need to supplement?
The majority of feed value in stubbles comes from two main areas:
- Grain residues
- Summer growth (depending on the plant)
Standing straw and trash left behind provides very little feed value due to the low digestibility and energy content.
Stubbles are also notorious for being imbalanced in their nutrient profile. Matching your stubble with the appropriate supplement (grain, pellet, loose lick or block) is a great way to improve the performance of your stock on the same amount of feed while avoiding major health challenges such as acidosis, urinary calculi or a calcium deficiency.
When should you pull stock out of stubbles?
This will depend on the class of stock and what level of performance is required. The following provides some rough “rules of thumb” for knowing when to start supplementing or when to remove stock:
- Lambs generally need grain residues over 100 kilograms per hectare to continue growing.
- Dry stock will lose weight if there is less than 40 kilograms per hectare of grain or green material.
- To minimise soil erosion, do not graze once stubble material is 1500 kilograms dry matter per hectare or below (about 50 to 70 per cent ground cover)
Finally, do not forget to ensure that animals are recently vaccinated before going onto stubbles, to avoid Pulpy Kidney losses, and also consider testing and drench treatment for worms if necessary. Each year, region or paddock/mob will potentially need a different plan.
For more information on how to assess your feed and put sound animal health plans in place, please contact your local Elders branch or call your Elders Livestock Production Advisor.
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