Failed crops a feed source

15 Dec, 2000 03:02 PM
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CROPS that have failed due to the adverse seasonal conditions are still of value for sheep production.

One of the best options for making the most of failed crops is to use them to help finish lambs over summer.

Agriculture WA research officer Sarah Wiese said using failed crops and stubbles carefully would help to keep supplementary grain feeding costs down.

"Failed cereal crops can provide useful feed as the small grain should have good levels of protein and energy," Dr Weise said.

However, the overall protein level in cereal crops would not be enough for optimum growth of young sheep, so some supplementary lupins will be required to achieve rapid growth rates in lambs.

Dr Wiese said there was a high risk of acidosis or grain poisoning when lambs consumed failed cereal or pea crops. This also applied to oats, which were generally safer than wheat, triticale or barley crops.

To reduce the risk of acidosis, lambs should be trail fed increasing amounts of cereal grain for 10 days before introduction to the crop or introduced to the crop for two hours at a time during the first week.

Other factors to consider, included vaccinating lambs against pulpy kidney and ensuring there was adequate, good quality water.

Lambs on lupin stubbles need to be checked regularly for lupinosis and removed once ground cover fell below 50 per cent to reduce the risk of wind erosion.

Lambs will grow until spilt grain drops below 100 kilograms per hectare, after that older sheep should still gain some weight until seed levels are below 50 kg/ha.

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