Extending Livestock Feed Supplies Section One

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Extending Livestock Feed Supplies was originally produced as a reference on alternative feeds for producers facing feed shortages during the 1980 Manitoba drought.

Average feeding values, energy levels (designated as TDN) and recommended feeding rates for the various feedstuffs available in Manitoba are given in this publication. Their use need not be limited to drought conditions.

Alfalfa Cubes

Alfalfa is usually coarsely chopped and artificially dried before being formed into cubes about 3.2 cm (1.25 inches) on a side with varying lengths. The major difference between alfalfa cubes and pellets is the size of the forage particles. Alfalfa cubes contain much coarser material and may be used as the only source of forage in dairy cattle rations.

Feeding: If cubes are the only source of roughage, adapt dairy cows over a period of one to two weeks by initially feeding limited amounts. Not all cows in the herd will consume adequate amounts of cubes as the only roughage. In feeding trials at the University of Saskatchewan a few individual cows would consume only 4.5 to 5.5 kg (10 to 12 lbs) of cubes daily, though most would consume 9 to 14 kg (20 to 30 lbs). To minimize unsatisfactory performance by individual cows feed at least 2.5 kg (5 lbs) of long hay with alfalfa cubes.

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Alfalfa Pellets

Dehydrated Alfalfa: Dehydrated alfalfa pellets consist of alfalfa forage harvested at the late bud or early bloom stage. It is artificially dried soon after harvesting, then ground and pelleted to produce a 1.3 cm (0.5 inches) diameter pellet. These dehydrated pellets contain 16 to 20 per cent crude protein, 1.5 to 2.0 per cent calcium and 0.2 to 0.3 per cent phosphorus. The TDN content (energy level) is about 60 per cent.

Feeding: Consuming too high a level of dehydrated pellets causes digestive upsets and cows will go off feed. The recommended maximum feeding level of dehydrated alfalfa pellets for dairy cows is 4 kg (8 lb)/cow daily. Feed at lest 4.5 kg (10 lb) of fair quality hay or straw with dehydrated alfalfa pellets unless there is an extreme forage shortage.

Sun Cured Pellets: Sun cured alfalfa pellets are produced in a similar way to dehydrated pellets except the forage is field dried. Forage used represents a greater range in maturity of forage. For these reasons the nutrient content of sun cured alfalfa pellets is generally lower than the dehydrated pellets. Protein content normally ranges from 13 to 15 per cent, calcium 1 to 1.5 per cent, phosphorus 0.2 to 0.3 per cent and TDN between 50 and 60 per cent. Sun cured pellets can be fed at up to 3 to 4 kg (6 to 8 lb) per milking cow daily, and like dehydrated pellets may be used to supplement low quality forage.

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Forage: Barley can be used for hay, silage or pasture (see cereal Crop Hays or Silage). It may contain high levels of nitrates (see section on nitrate poisoning).

Grain: Barley is the most common small grain fed to livestock. It is intermediate in energy between oats and wheat.

Dry Matter Nutrient Content %
Dry Matter 100
Crude Protein 12
TDN 83
Calcium 0.05
Phosphorus 0.37

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Dried Beet Pulp/Dried Molasses Beet Pulp

Beet pulp is normally dried at the factory or is combined with molasses and dried to form dried molasses beet pulp. These feeds are palatable, bulky and slightly laxative.

Dry Matter Nutrient Content Dried Beet Pulp % Dried Molasses Beet Pulp %
Dry Matter 100 100
Crude Protein 10 10
ADF 23 25
TDN 69 76
Calcium 0.9 0.6
Phosphorus 0.10 0.10

Because of its bulky nature and excellent palatability, most beet pulp is used for feeding dairy cows.

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Brewers Grains

During the brewing process, barley, malt and other cereals (usually corn) are mixed with warm water. Much of the carbohydrate is converted to sugar with the resulting liquid being used in the brewing process. The residue which contains proteins, fats and unextracted carbohydrate is known as Brewer’s Grains. It is available in two forms, either drained and sold as wet brewers grains or put through a dryer and sold as dry grains.

Dry Matter Nutrient Content (Wet Brewers Grain) As Fed Basis % Dry Matter Basis |%
Dry Matter 22 100
Crude Protein 6 28
TDN 16 72
Crude Fat 1.1 5.0
ADF 5.0 23
Calcium 0.08 0.35
Phosphorus 0.13 0.60

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Forage: Buckwheat straw is low in feeding value, containing on a dry matter basis about 4 per cent crude protein, 40 per cent crude fiber, and a TDN of about 40 per cent. Buckwheat straw, green fodder and grain may cause peculiar eruptions and intense itching of white and light colored portions of the skin.

Dry Matter Nutrient Content (Seed) %
Dry Matter 100
Crude Protein 13
ADF 17
TDN 72
Calcium 0.10
Phosphorus 0.35

In cattle feeds, buckwheat is worth about 10 per cent less than oats. It is not as palatable as most other grains and should form no more than 20 to 25 per cent of any concentrate mixture for dairy or beef cows.

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Canola Forage and Seed

Forage: Although the use of canola meal is well documented, little information is available on the use of whole plant canola. Generally, it can be used as a pasture crop for sheep and cattle. Dairy cows should be given access to canola immediately after milking only, to avoid tainting milk. Forage may cause bloat, so the same precautions should be taken as with alfalfa.

As with any new feed, care should be taken in introducing animals to this feed. Canola pasture contains about the same protein and energy values as alfalfa on a dry matter basis.

Dry Matter Nutrient Content Pasture Basis % %
Dry Matter 15-20 100
Crude Protein 3 17
Crude Fiber 3 15
TDN 12 65
Calcium 0.25 1.5
Phosphorus 0.07 0.40

Frozen canola was baled and fed in the Roblin area during the fall and winter of 1979-80 with apparent good results. Canola can also be ensiled but close attention must be paid to moisture content. Having a moisture content of 65% is critical. Neither canola hay or canola silage is an ideal feed.

Canola straw is extremely low in feeding value. It contains on a dry matter basis 3 to 4 per cent crude protein, and a TDN of about 20 per cent.

Dry Matter Nutrient Content (Seed) %
Dry Matter 100
Crude Protein 21
ADF 12
TDN 127
Fat 41
Calcium 0.44
Phosphorus 0.68

The high fat level in full fat canola limits its use in rations and may present handling problems when grinding, etc. Introduce full fat canola gradually and do not use at more than 10 per cent of the grain ration for dairy and beef cows.

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Canola Meal

Canola meal is the product which remains after the oil has been extracted from the canola seed. It is the most common protein supplement fed in Manitoba. Canola meal can be utilized economically and efficiently in rations for all cattle. Canola meal can be compared to SBM on the basis of cost per unit of crude protein.

Dry Matter Nutrient Content %
Dry Matter 100
Crude Protein 39
ADF 19
TDN 70
Fat 4
Calcium 0.7
Protein 1.2

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Cereal Crop Hays or Silage

For maximum feeding value, cereal crops to be used for forage should be cut in the early dough stage (roughly when the crop starts turning color, but is still predominately green). If left to turn color the hay will be strawlike and lower in palatability.

Dry Matter Nutrient Content %
Dry Matter 100
Crude Protein 12
TDN 60-65

Oat and barley forage cut at the proper stage compare well to good hay. Wheat and rye hays have about 90 per cent of this feeding value. Nitrate poisoning may be a problem with cereal forages (see section on nitrate poisoning). Of the cereal hays, oats are most likely to contain toxic levels of nitrates.

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