Now is a good time to assess silage and straw stocks to ensure that you have enough to see you through to spring turnout. Take a look at what stock is currently being fed and review rations to make sure that stock are being fed appropriately. If you have not already done so then consider a silage analysis so that you can more accurately calculate your silage demand.
Think about prioritising productive animals. Cull cow trade is buoyant and should be used to your advantage. Sell empty cows to free up feed stocks. As well as eating forage these cows will be using bedding that would be better saved for calving time, cows with young calves and keeping finishing cattle that are close to slaughter clean. Store cattle prices are also good so there is the option to sell stores to reduce the demand on forage stocks.
Feeding finishing cattle a more intensive concentrate and straw ration can free up silage for other stock and have the advantage of getting stock away quicker.
Straw shortages remain an issue across the country, so again calculate what you have in stock to assess whether you have enough for both feeding and bedding. If you are short, source straw sooner rather than later, if that is not an option consider selling some stock. Remember if you are bedding using an alternative material stock will still require a form of roughage in their diet.
It is best to assess feed stocks now to ensure that management decisions are taken timely. There are lots of ways to make small changes to increase forage reserves, reduce feed and bedding requirements and to make better use of what you have. It becomes a bigger issue once you have completely run out.
To help with forage budgeting and stocktaking refer to the new FAS Companion App which has a forage budget calculator designed to give a quick and easy calculation. The App can be found here; https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=scot.fas.companionapp
Sarah Balfour, firstname.lastname@example.org
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