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Get a feed test, don't guess

Take the guess work out of feeding valuable livestock

Central Tablelands Local Land Services Senior Land Services Officer (Livestock) Brett Littler is urging producers to take the guess work out of feeding livestock in drought conditions.

Recent workshops with producers at Trunkey Creek and Tarana revealed some surprising feed test results, Mr Littler said.

“There’s a real mixed bag across the Central Tablelands at the moment when it comes to feed supplies. The only way you can be certain about energy and nutrient content is to get a feed sample professionally tested,” he said.

“We’ve been looking at a lot of different feed supplies including hay, grains, and silage, and the test results have been enlightening.”

Mr Littler said some farmers who had been feeding for several months had reported mixed results on how stock were performing.

“We had one wheat sample that visually didn’t look great, but testing showed it was very high in energy and protein content, while tests on some hay samples have come back with much lower quality than we had expected,” he said.

“There are cases where animals are losing weight due to under feeding, and we’ve even had instances of over feeding where test results have confirmed the ration was supplying more energy than necessary to maintain healthy sheep weight.”

“In another example, a producer realised he’d been feeding out unnecessary and expensive additives when tests showed the base feed was already supplying sufficient nutrients.”

Mr Littler said there could be major variation in nutritional quality across different loads of hay and grain.

“Sometimes the difference can be as a stark as a comparison between a Mars Bar and cardboard,” he said.

“My advice is don’t guess, get a feed test.”

“Turn around is quick with results usually sent back within a week. Once we have the results we can make accurate prescriptions about exactly how much to feed and whether protein meals or other supplements need to be added.”

Feed test bags are available from most Local Land Services offices. For further advice on feed testing and supplementary feed supplies contact your closest Central Tablelands Local Land Services office in Bathurst, Cowra, Lithgow, Molong, Mudgee or Orange.