Risks Using Overwintered Crops as Livestock Feed

  From the May 1, 2017 Issue of Agri-News
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 When feeding animals mature cereal crop greenfeed, many potential problems can occur.

“Grain overload, acidosis and bloat may occur in cattle and sheep because the weight ratio of grain to straw in this material is approximately 1:1,” says Barry Yaremcio, beef and forage specialist, Alberta Agriculture and Forestry. “The animals prefer to eat the grain rather than the straw.”

Macro mineral imbalances of calcium, phosphorus, magnesium and potassium could cause downer cows or milk fever.

“Sheep require very high quality forages in late pregnancy and after lambing,” says Yaremcio. "Lower quality forages such as overwintered cereal greenfeed or spring-threshed grain generally don't have the quality required to meet requirements. It’s not recommended to use these types of feed.”

Monogastric animals are very sensitive to mycotoxins, especially DON and Zearalenone. Levels of vomitoxin (DON) at 1 ppb will cause feed refusal in pigs.

“Spring-threshed grains can contain waterfowl manure” says Yaremcio. “With the significant risk of Avian Influenza being spread, spring-threshed grain should not be used in any poultry diet. As well, ergot-contaminated grain is a concern for all types of livestock. Any feed containing ergot must be tested for mycotoxin levels before being included in rations.”

For more information, see AF’s new Risks of Using Overwintered Crops as Livestock Feed factsheet.

Alberta Ag-Info Centre
310-FARM (3276)

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For more information about the content of this document, contact Barry Yaremcio.
This document is maintained by Ken Blackley.
This information published to the web on April 20, 2017.