We have trialled our production on beef cattle, lambs, pigs and horses. With the exception of horses, as a rule of thumb we have found that feeding 3% of the animals’ live-weight in green feed with the balance of their feed requirements’ coming from pasture grazing, hay or straw will, depending on the seasonal conditions be sufficient to maintain animal condition and good health.
Moving up to 5% of live weight will see weight put on the animal regardless of the season provided there is a good supply of roughage available.
In the middle of Winter more roughage (hay or straw) is required rather than more fodder to build on livestock condition.
It is important to remember that when introducing fodder to the animals’ diet that this is done progressively. Through trial and error, we have found that cattle convert from straight pasture to the fodder pasture mix, actively seeking out the fodder ration, over a seven day period. There are a couple of tricks to getting this quick uptake but we will take you through those.
Sheep, depending on their support roughage, have a similar conversion time to cattle. Read more about feeding fodder to sheep here >
Horses are the exception to the quick conversion. While up to 100% of a horses diet may be converted to a fodder diet, horses do require a longer conversion period (up to three weeks) to accommodate the gut development requirements of horses. Read more about feeding horses here >
In regard to cattle however, what we have found is that once they have been on fodder, cattle will seek it out. If you stop the fodder ration for a couple of weeks or more then reintroduce it they are straight back into it.
Finally, we have carried out trials (with fodder crazy cattle) to see how much green feed fodder is too much. In a six week trial, we fed cattle a 3.5% of live weight ration, once a day for two weeks, then twice a day for two weeks and finally three times a day for two weeks, allowing them to supplement the fodder with average quality summer pasture, ad-lib.
The single feed was done at 8am. Fodder was fed at intervals of eight hours between the two feeds (8am and 4pm) and seven hours between the three feeds (7am, 2pm and 9pm).
We found that a twice daily feed was well received by the cattle, but three times a day was too much with the cattle eating all of the fodder but taking all night to clean up the last allocation. We monitored the dung of the cattle throughout the trial and noted a distinct increase in both pass through feed and looser dung with the three feeds. This differed from the two feed a day trial when dung consistency and composition remained on par with a single feed regime.
Weight gain across the trial peaked at 3kg per day with an average of 2.6 kg being achieved under the two feeds a day trial. We will be conducting further trials with mixed grain fodder through the Winter of 2017. To read more on feeding cattle, click here >
To view further commentary on our recommended feeding regimes for cattle, sheep & horses, please follow the above links or click on one of the species below.
While we have not undertaken substantial trials on green feed fodder for other species, there is extensive overseas research demonstrating that green feed fodder is equally beneficial for goats, pigs, chickens and exotic species. Deer will also be suitable candidates for feeding fodder and will get a higher nutritional value and significantly less damage to their teeth from the sprouted green feed than dry barley grain that is often used as a Winter supplement for Deer.
If you would like to discuss the possibilities of using green feed fodder in your application, please email us or give us a call.