Supplements for Scrub Feeding
A urea or vegetable protein meal supplement will supply additional protein to boost appetite and improve performance.
Leaves of the more palatable trees, such as mulga, wilga, kurrajong and myall, are usually readily eaten. They contain high levels of crude protein, but the digestibility of this protein is low compared with more usual fodders.
At adequate intakes, these scrubs will provide enough nutrient for the survival of dry, mature cattle in strong condition. For less palatable trees such as belah and bull oak, a protein supplement is essential.
A suitable supplement for all stock being fed scrub is:
• 1 part urea
• 2 parts Gran Am
• 2 parts Kynofos
• 4 parts salt.
Aim to feed about 80 to 100 g per head per day.
A common vegetable protein meal mix is vegetable protein meal (4 parts) plus salt (1 part). Feed 250 to 400g /head /day. The salt content helps control intake though not to the levels given – 1 cow could easily eat 5 rations or more. Such a ration is often required for cows during late pregnancy, early lactation being fed scrub to maintain condition.
Some examples of vegetable protein meals can be cottonseed meal, sunflower meal, copra meal, peanut meal, linseed meal, canola meal or palm kernel. Alternatively, whole cottonseed, lupins, mungbeans, chickpeas, or other legume grains can be fed but at a slightly higher level. Ruminant derived meals such as meat meal are not to be fed to ruminants.
Molasses helps reduce impaction problems which occur in the rumen of animals being fed scrub over a long period. In some cases where cattle are low in condition or scrub is limited, additional energy may be required. Additional energy (more molasses) is also recommended for late pregnant and lactating cows.
Some molasses mixtures that can be fed in conjunction with scrub are:
• Molasses plus 8% urea (M8U) fed in open troughs. Rumensin Premix at 1g per 1 kg molasses will help to keep intakes to about 1 kg per head per day. Do not feed rumensin to horses.
• Molasses plus 15% vegetable protein meal (MPM); feed 1 to 3 kg per head per day.
Phosphorus supplements are recommended with all scrub diets offered to cows in late pregnancy or while lactating, and all stock in phosphorus deficient areas.
Phosphorus levels in mulga are low. After three months of eating scrub alone, most cattle will begin to show symptoms of deficiency. These include bone chewing, rough coats, a decreased appetite, and possibly peg-leg. This is seen initially in the youngest breeders.
Kynofos or dicalcium phosphate (DCP) are low in cadmium and flourine and can be mixed with salt (50:50) and fed dry. Salt is varied to give intakes of 20 to 25 g Kynofos or DCP per head per day. Pregnant and lactating cows should be fed the higher level. Alternatively, feed 2:1 with molasses or add some molasses to the salt mixture as an appetiser.
Commercial phosphorus fertilisers with high flourine or cadmium are not recommended e.g. MAP.
Sulphur for mulga
Mulga country research indicated that sulphur improves the utilisation of mulga leaf. Sulphur can be supplied as GranAm, flowers of sulphur, or sodium sulphate in a dry lick with phosphorus and salt.
Mulga dry lick recipe
• Salt 20 kg (4 parts)
• GranAm 10 kg (2 parts)
• Kynofos 21 10 kg (2 parts)
The lick can be reinforced with 1 part of urea (5 kg).
Intakes will vary between individual stock and paddocks. Different mixes may be required. If intakes are not adequate add up to 20% molasses plus 10 % water or reduce the proportion of phosphorus source to salt. Consumption of 80 to 100g per head per day is the aim for cattle. This should be monitored to ensure adequate intakes are being achieved.
Feed salt for about 7-10 days. Stock may otherwise crave salt and eat excess lick. Lick mixing is best done in a mechanical mixer. Bag and store lick for feeding when checking waters. Be sure to label the pre-mixed lick.
The dry lick should be fed in open ended troughs, hollow logs or drums with drainage holes to prevent the dissolving of the urea after rain which can lead to animal deaths.
Fortification with meal
Add vegetable protein meal for stock that are in very poor condition, heavily pregnant or lactating. Add up to six parts vegetable protein meal to the mulga dry lick recipe. If protein meals are used supplement consumption rates will increase.
Monensin or lasalocid fed with the supplements will improve feed utilisation. In young stock monensin or lasalocid will suppress coccidiosis or blood scours. Care that the recommended levels of 150 to 300 mg per head per day are not exceeded is required by carefully following product mixing and feeding instructions.
These recommended dry licks and feeding techniques are also suitable for sheep. Feed 20 to 25 g per head per day of the basic salt, sulphur and phosphorus lick.
- Dry season management of a beef business – a guide to planning, managing and supplementary feeding booklet
- Protein and urea
- Energy supplements, including molasses supplementation
- Minerals and vitamins, including phosphorus