Printer Friendly

Research animals' feed needs before bringing them home.

I've read a number of letters about feed sources for livestock and can only shake my head in bewilderment at the questions presented.

First of all, I've farmed for 25 years and been active in feed sales, ration balancing, etc. For 40 years I've seen most everything from the exceptionally well-fed and productive to disastrous, life-threatening situations for livestock. People need to thoroughly inform themselves before acquiring any livestock, especially milk cows. The additional demands of milk production and pregnancy only add to the need for a balanced ration that not only eliminates deficiency symptoms but assures normal growth, gain, production and the general health of the animal. These animals are "prisoners" and are totally subject to whatever feed and care they are given.

Even normal ordinary feed sources can produce scary results if not balanced and supplemented properly. "Waste" feed are especially touchy as they often provide bulk and fiber but little else in the way of vitamins, minerals or protein. Limited land resources often dictate what needs to be fed. Excellent pasture covers a multitude of "sins" but it also needs supplementation for the best results. Basic minerals and vitamins are often lacking in what often appears to be an excellent ration of grains and forages simply because the demands of production outstrip the nutrient intake. Hay varies from "road ditch" variety to excellent alfalfa. Enough said.

An old copy of Morrison's Feeds and Feeding should be in the hands of anyone considering livestock or poultry. It contains everything from basic rations and husbandry to complete tables of average feedstuffs composition.

Waste-type feedstuffs should be used only by experienced producers who are totally familiar with its nutrient deficiencies and can provide the supplemental feeds that will balance the ration. I've been around hog and beef operations that utilized waste bakery products, stale bread, rye crisp, outdated dairy products, etc. Even these producers will tell you that free feed is not a panacea for profit. Some garden waste is toxic to livestock as well as being almost devoid of energy or protein. It is best put it in a compost bed that is used to fertilize the corn crop. Beef animals might survive on prickly pear for a while but at best, it is a temporary measure to get them through a drought.

Here is the best bet for newcomers:

1. Raise what you can and buy what you can't.

2. Utilize the knowledge available locally and get a "hands-on" appraisal of your situation. Consult with veterinarians or professional nutritionist and producers. The reputable breeder you purchase your stock from is probably a good source.

3. Buy things economically. Grain from your neighbor will be cheaper than grain from a feed store or mill. Trade and barter. Mix your own grain mix in a cement mixer. Buy a small feed mill and grind your own grain. Roller mills work great for oats, barley, etc.

4. Forages may be the toughest part of a ration but I've never seen a ruminant starve on high-quality hay and pasture. With that as a base, the grains and supplement can be added as/when needed by sourcing them out on an economical basis.

5. If money is tight and you must find your feed sources in the outside world, then trade-up situations will have to be found. I don't know of many larger farms or ranches who wouldn't be willing to trade some of your time and skills for 150 bales of hay.

6. Adapt your livestock goals to your feed sources and environment. This may eliminate some possibilities but will also reduce the number of problems encountered in beginning the adventure into animal husbandry.

In conclusion, I very much enjoy reading Countryside and especially look forward to reading letters and personal accounts of those who have "made the trip." I applaud anyone who is willing to take the time to discover the joys and rewards of self-sufficiency, enhanced with livestock and poultry. Proceeding slowly, with sound information, suitable fences, necessary shelter, and an adequate ration just makes for the best outcome for newcomers.

After years of large-scale farming, with much of it done organically, I am grateful on Sunday mornings that I don't have to milk 60 cows. However, I do appreciate my dog, two cats and 800 linear feet of four-foot raised beds in which I grow some market produce and berries. For me, hand tools and a wheelbarrow are now enough.

Pete Edstrom

Menomonie, Wisconsin
COPYRIGHT 2005 Countryside Publications Ltd.
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 2005 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

Article Details
Printer friendly Cite/link Email Feedback
Title Annotation:Feeds & feeding
Author:Edstrom, Pete
Publication:Countryside & Small Stock Journal
Date:Jul 1, 2005
Previous Article:Inflated tires draw solar energy.
Next Article:Looking for the ideal used tractor? Keep these 9 tips in mind.

Related Articles
Want to go back to the old ways of farming? Here's how to feed a cow, 1910-style.
Cattle thrive on beer.

Terms of use | Copyright © 2017 Farlex, Inc. | Feedback | For webmasters