Sheep grazing stubbles

Getting the most out of your crop stubbles

Matthew Bastian, Ruminant Sales Representative, Central NSW

At this point in 2021, cereal crops are looking the best they have for the last few years. Once the headers leave the paddock, mixed farming producers will need to start looking at what to do with that stubble and how best to utilise this valuable feed source.

Estimating the feed Value

While crop stubbles can be a valuable source of feed, not all stubbles are 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 (32cm x 32cm) and use the below table (to get a more accurate result this should be replicated in different areas of the paddock).

Grain
Quadrant – kilograms of grain/ha
Green Shoot Quadrant – kg DM/ha
Grains countedApprox. quantity of grain (kg/ha)Green shoots countedApprox. quantity of DM (kg/ha)
620720
13401440
20602160
26802880
3310035100
Table 1: Table taken from Grains research development and development corporation – GRDC Research Code SFS00028

It is important to make an analysis of the stubble before moving livestock on. Large amounts of spilt 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 spilt grain present, the animal’s rumen should be acclimatised and adjusted slowly beforehand by using grain and a suitable buffer pellet such as Blueprint Sheep 50 Concentrate Pellet.

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™ for grazing stubbles

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.

Optisync is available in a 25kg bag.

How should Optisync be presented to animals?

Optisync be presented to animals? Depending on the production system and facilities on farm, there are a couple of options for providing Optisync to livestock.

  1. Grain – Optisync can be mixed with cereal grain up to 2.5% inclusion rate. In turn, lifting protein by 6% – this extra protein in the diet will help improve feed conversion and ultimately liveweight gain. The recommended intakes of Optisync for sheep are between 20-40 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.
  2. Loose-Lick – Blueprint Utilize is a granulated weather resistant loose mineral lick containing protein, a balance of essential vitamins and organic trace minerals. Blueprint Utilize contains 27.5% crude protein from non-protein nitrogen sources (Optisync and urea).

Feeding recommendations are as follows:

  • Sheep 15-30g/head/day
  • Cattle 80-100g/head/day

For further information on how we can get the most out of this year’s stubble with optimised liveweight gains and performance, don’t hesitate to get in touch with an Alltech Lienert representative.