Green feed increase poses own problems

Three years of drought to lush green grass can impact heavily on stock

Sheep
Two years of feeding trials in Goulburn and surrounds of Pro-lamb blocks have shown large improvements in ewe health and may have even played a hand in the rapid growth of lambs.

Two years of feeding trials in Goulburn and surrounds of Pro-lamb blocks have shown large improvements in ewe health and may have even played a hand in the rapid growth of lambs.

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Even a good season can cause problems for stock.

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With an abundance of lush feed about, stock are becoming increasingly vulnerable to seasonal problems such as pregnancy toxemia, prolapse, and foot abscesses.

According to agronomist and manager of Goulburn Produce, Kathryn Pengilley, an increase of feed can pose just as many problems as dry seasons.

"It sounds strange, but it really is a hard season on stock," Ms Pengilley said.

"It has been dry for so long, now green feed and a wet season poses just as many health issues as a dry season."

But there are some preventative measures graziers can take to help protect their stock.

Ms Pengilly said two years of feeding trials in Goulburn and surrounds of Pro-lamb blocks, a high energy, mineral and trace element nutrition block for lambing ewes and lambs, have shown large improvements in ewe health and may have even played a hand in the rapid growth of lambs.

"These blocks are designed to assist producing a highly productive sheep," Mrs Pengilley said.

"The molasses base is a ready energy source, designed to give 24 hours energy, that both ewes or lambs can safely access."

She said molasses is also a highly useful way of introducing important minerals such as magnesium for stress-related diseases, iodine, and zinc for feet issue therapy.

Along with handy trace elements needed to grow wool and boost milk supply for lambs, high phosphorus and calcium for body and bone growth, she said.

"Salt blocks have an excellent place for feeding sheep in drought conditions, but this new generation of hand-poured molasses blocks is entirely focussed on boosting the productivity of the sheep," Mrs Pengilley said.

"The response from farmers after using the blocks have been nothing but positive.

"We have seen producers who were losing animals to now being able to keep them alive.

"People and the industry can't afford to be losing animals now, there aren't enough of them after the drought."

She said although the soil surface should start to dry out soon decreasing the incidence of foot problems, they are still going to be there as the green feed will continue into spring.

Running 3000 Merino and crossbred ewes at Kirkdale, Wollogorang in southern NSW, sheep producer Steve Kilby said after using Pro-lamb blocks he has seen the difference they can make to his flock.

Initially placing the first lot of blocks out with his crossbred ewes, which lambed from the middle of June to the end of July, Mr Kilby said he was pleasantly surprised at the lack of problems he encountered.

"The sheep certainly devoured them very quickly over the space of a couple of weeks and I didn't lose one ewe to pregnancy toxemia," Mr Kilby said.

"I am not saying that was just because of the blocks, but there is definitely a lot of molasses in them so they were able to get a lot of sugar and glucose out of them.

"I am sure they helped, especially the twin bearing ewes because they were getting that extra bit of energy."

He said as far as palatability goes, they are the ones that the sheep go for the most, with the added bonus of having high levels of magnesium.

"A lot of people lost ewes to pregnancy toxemia this year, but I only had a problem with some older Merino ewes where I may have lost half a dozen to it out of 600, a relatively small amount for the season," he said.

"When I lambed down the Merino ewes accompanied by the Pro-lamb blocks I didn't encounter any foot problems."

Dale Chalker from Goulburn Produce said one of the issues said their customers have encountered this year is the increased incidence of pregnancy toxemia.

"What we particularly like about the Pro-lamb blocks is they have such a comprehensive range of minerals and trace elements, especially the high levels of magnesium, calcium sulfur," he said.

"This comprehensive range allows us to offer producers one block.

"And that is why graziers like them - they only have to put one block out as opposed to three."

Mr Chalker said producers are still going to see mineral and nutrient issues running into spring, and with more lush green feed and clover about, bloat and grass tetany is likely to be an issue.

"Until feed starts to dry off a bit, these issues are going to continue to be a problem," he said.

"Hopefully with supplements and management to get around those things it's going to be a great season."

Dan Olsson, 4 Season animal nutrition, Dale Chalker of Goulburn Produce, Josh Olsson 4 Season animal nutrition, and Kathryn Pengilley of Goulburn Produce.

Dan Olsson, 4 Season animal nutrition, Dale Chalker of Goulburn Produce, Josh Olsson 4 Season animal nutrition, and Kathryn Pengilley of Goulburn Produce.

Dan Olsson of animal nutrition company, 4 Season, said these days ewes are more likely to produce multiple lambs as well as the Merino breed being expected to produce a high grade fleece.

"Pasture often isn't enough these days, so Pro-lamb provides stock with a high energy supplement, giving them every opportunity to reach their full genetic potential," Mr Olsson said.

"It also allows the lambs to get onto the block, helping with their early rumen development and gives them that key access to calcium and magnesium."

The story Green feed increase poses own problems first appeared on Farm Online.

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