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Livestock producers looking to make the most of grazed forage can increase intake and digestion by 10% by using a nutrient-rich supplement, suggests research.... How supplements can get more from your forage

Livestock producers looking to make the most of grazed forage can increase in- take and digestion by 10% by using a nutrient-rich supplement, suggests research.

“Supplying a balanced combination of nutri- ent-rich ingredients, forage supplement blocks stimulate the rumen to work harder by fuel- ling and increasing the rumen bug population” says Alison Bond, nutritionist for Rumenco.

In multiple trials, Rumenco’s Rumevite forage supplements show an increase in intake and digestion. Dr Bond says this has been proven to have significant impacts on livestock performance.

A study of 156 head of store cattle on five different farms found that livestock supplemented with Rumevite Cattle Booster had a 25kg liveweight gain advantage over 105 days compared to the control group.

Performance advantages carried through into the finishing period, with supplemented cattle maintaining the 25kg weight increase and therefore finishing 28 days ahead of the control group.

“When valuing liveweight gain at £2.00/kg, the margin over feed cost for supplementing grazing stock with Rumevite Cattle Booster was £137.36/head, compared to £109.00/head for the group without supplementation.”

The un-supplemented cattle required feed for an additional 28 days, costing an addition- al £36.55/head in extra concentrate and silage costs,” explains Dr Bond.

Finished lambs

Similar results have been seen in finishing lambs in a study at Plumpton College in Sussex. Despite having a 300g disadvantage to the control group at the start of the study, supplemented lambs had a daily liveweight gain of 189g,

which resulted in a 36.7kg liveweight at 45 days to slaughter. The control group only gained 94.3g/day, finishing in 83 days at 36.3kgs.

“Not only did supplemented lambs have greater daily liveweight gains at grass and finish 38 days sooner, but they also achieved greater carcase grades than the control group,” says Dr Bond.

For producers looking to improve ewe fertility, trials have found Rumevite Sheep Super, which contains fish oil, can increase the lambing percentage by up to 22% when fed in the eight-week period around tupping.

“The supplement block formulation helps ewes reach optimal body condition ahead of tupping, supporting ovulation – which can lead to more ewes holding service in the first cycle,” says Dr Bond.

Rumevite is a multipurpose product, with high energy and protein options to meet live- stock nutrient requirements and daily requirements of minerals, vitamins and trace elements to boost livestock performance while supporting immunity, health and fertility.

Unlike concentrates, forage supplements allow for little and often feeding, which results in less pH variation in the rumen. Because stock can have 24/7 access to feed blocks, it is a great way to reduce bullying at the trough, adds Dr Bond.

They are also convenient, significantly reducing the amount of time it takes to feed. Sup- plementation can be tailored to suit livestock nutrition requirements at any point during the grazing or housing period.

To budget for intakes, cattle will consume 300-500g/head/day and growing cattle will consume 200-300g/head/day. Ewes can be expected to take 100-250g/head/day while lambs will consume 100-150g/head/day.