Getting the most out of your crop stubble - Elders Rural Services
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Getting the most out of your crop stubble

At this point in 2021, many cereal crops are looking the best they have for the last few years.

Once the headers leave the paddock however, mixed farming producers will need to start looking at what to do with stubble and how best to utilise this valuable feed source.

Estimating the feed value

While crop stubble can be a valuable source of feed, not all stubble is of equal value and stubble bulk does not necessarily translate into animal performance.

A quick, easy way to get an idea of useful feed in the cereal crop is to count the number of grains and green shoots in a 0.1 metre square (32 cm x 32 cm) and use the below table (to get a more accurate result this should be replicated in different areas of the paddock).

Table showing calculation of stubble value. Source: Grains Research and Development Corporation – GRDC Research Code SFS00028

It is important to make an analysis of the stubble before moving livestock on. Large amounts of split or left-over grain in paddocks has the potential to cause acidosis if rapidly consumed in high amounts.

In the unlikely scenario that paddocks do have high levels of split grain present, the animal’s rumen should be adjusted slowly beforehand by using grain and a suitable buffer pellet such as Blueprint Sheep 50 Concentrate Pellet.

The need to supplement

Stubble is generally low in protein and high in fibre, therefore the use of a supplementary protein source is beneficial to meet the animal’s production demands.

Optisync™ is Alltech’s controlled release nitrogen technology designed to provide a concentrated source of rumen degradable protein. Optisync supports efficient rumen function and fibre digestion.

The slow-release technology provides a safe and constant level of ammonia to the rumen environment, ensuring the rumen bacteria have continued access to this excellent rumen degradable protein source. Without it, rumen bacteria can’t grow, which leads to poor digestibility of fibrous materials in the diet.

How should Optisync be presented to animals?

Optisync can be mixed with cereal grain up to 2.5 per cent (pc) inclusion rate. In turn, lifting protein by 6 pc, this extra protein in the diet will help improve feed conversion and ultimately liveweight gain.

The recommended intakes of Optisync for sheep are between 20 to 40 grams per head per day and for cattle between 90 and 240 grams per head per day.

If grain assisting in the paddock, suitable management practices should be adopted to ensure animals are not eating above their recommended intakes – for further information on recommended intakes please get in touch with your local Alltech Lienert representative.

Grain protein levels should be analysed to ensure sufficient protein is being offered to stock, Alltech Lienert provides complementary grain protein testing and are happy to do this for any producer.

Use a loose lick such as Blueprint Utilize, a granulated weather resistant loose mineral lick containing protein, a balance of essential vitamins and organic trace minerals. Blueprint Utilize contains 27.5pc crude protein from non-protein nitrogen sources (Optisync and urea).

Feeding recommendations are sheep 15-30g/h/d and cattle 80-100g/h/d.

Article written by Matt Bastian, sales representative, Alltech Lienert Australia for Seasons magazine. 

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