Thinking of feeding concentrates to cattle? Here's some guidelines

George McNally turning hay on his farm in North County Dublin
Pic: Mark Condren
George McNally turning hay on his farm in North County Dublin Pic: Mark Condren

FarmIreland Team

Parlour-fed concentrate will form a major part of daily feed allowance in drought conditions, according to Teagasc.

It recommends to feed up to 5-6kg of parlour concentrate per day as part of an overall feed plan.

This is a relatively safe level provided adequate forage and water are provided. A further 2-3kg of high fibre straights can be fed out-of-parlour, it says.

It also advises farmers to purchase concentrate based on UFL value, targeting a value of >0.94 UFL on a fresh weight basis.

Ration crude protein should be decided based on overall composition of the diet.

In normal circumstances a 14pc high energy ration would be adequate at grass, it says, however, in the current situation it is likely that lower protein ingredients will form a significant part of the diet.

Also, where grass is drought stressed and lacking N uptake, it is possible that sward protein content could be lower than normal.

Therefore, Teagasc recommends that a 16pc ration be used if grass intake is around 7 to 10kg per day. If the herd is placed on silage full-time than a high energy ration of 18+pc will be needed in the short term. These targets are for parlour rations fed at 4-6kg.

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It also advises farmers to be careful not to overfeed magnesium. A rule of thumb is that cows will tolerate up to twice the recommended allowance over a shot period (100-120g per day).

Above this level there may be issues with scouring as Mg has a laxative effect. Therefore if concentrate is formulated for a 2kg feeding rate then max feeding rate should be limited to 4kg

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