By Charlotte Westwood, Veterinary Nutritionist
Pre-transitioning checklist for winter crops
With temperatures dropping and winter on our doorstep, it’s now time for a final pre-winter crop feeding review.
The following is a winter crop pre-transitioning check list to think through:
- Final feed budget check (feed demand vs feed supply). Include enough supplementary feeds to allow for more supplementary feed to be offered during transitioning than later in winter .
- Final crop dry matter (DM) yield check. Even if yields were done earlier in May, crops may have increased by as much as 30-50kgDM/ha/day through May depending on local weather and conditions.
- Send samples away for DM% on crops. These can change, especially if bulbs have bulked up over recent weeks (bigger bulbs can be lower DM% than smaller bulbs)
- Test winter crops for nitrate levels before grazing. Think through contingencies / what to do if nitrate levels come back high.
- Feed test supplements and prioritise better quality baleage and silage to younger and lighter conditioned stock.
- Pasture cover in runoff paddocks. If you’re planning to run stock on/off crop paddocks during transitioning, make sure there’s enough pasture cover there vs what you’d planned for
- Lift fodder beet to clear headland space for stock to camp on during transitioning. Lift fodder beet in strips to allow access to stock water if portable troughs are not in use.
- Count number of standards and reels including enough to double fence crop face and to fence off critical source areas. “Hot” standards are great for high risk crops such as fodder beet. Check power as breakouts are such a common cause of animal health problems and deaths.
- Always allow stock access to water. Ideally portable troughs set up to follow the crop face. All stock must always have access to clean water, it’s not correct that animals “get enough water from crops”, they must have trough water too.
- Update all staff on transitioning planning, feed allocation (how much feed when, where and how) and fencing planning, feed out requirements and signs of animal health related issues to watch for. Pair up experienced team members with less experienced staff.
- Staff well being - Transitioning onto some crops especially fodder beet can be a busy time for staff. Look after everyone, run rosters that allows people enough time off, make sure everyone is well-fed and cheerful.