Winning Formula

The winning formula for livestock farmers

Determining your animals’ nutritional needs – and supplementing their diets accordingly.

Traditionally, licks were divided into two categories – those to be fed during the green season and those to be fed during the dry season. Livestock diets were supplemented with phosphates when the grass was young and green, and protein licks were added to diets when the veld was dry and ripe.

However, licks are applied more strategically in modern feed regimes, which are drawn up in conjunction with reproduction programs in a holistic farm-management approach. These modern feed regimes are constructed with one ground rule in mind – to use lick supplementation strategically to address nutrient shortages in the veld and never to use licks as the main source of nutrients. In other words, the farmers who adhere to these modern feed regimes never apply licks as fodder but rather regard them as ingredients necessary to jump-start the rumen microbes. Once these microbes are optimally stimulated, the animals will gain body mass from the available dry matter in the veld.

It follows then that the lick formula that work best in these modern feed regimes are those determined by the nutritious value of the veld, which is dependent on the season. Not only does the veld’s nutrient content vary according to the season, the palatability and digestibility of the grass also fluctuate as the months pass. Subsequently, intakes fluctuate. Research has shown, for instance, that intakes can decrease from between 10 and 12kg in the early summer, when the grass is green and growing, to as low as between 5 and 6kg from the middle to the end of winter.

Another aspect that needs to be kept in mind when compiling a feed regime is that of the nutritious needs of the animals. There are many elements that influence the nutritious needs of livestock – age, sex, breed, activity level, parasite challenge and the production environment. The production cycle probably has the most significant impact on nutritious needs, specifically of female animals.

Given all the aspects that need to be kept in mind, drawing up a feed regime can be a daunting and overwhelming task. BioMinerale simplifies matters for its clients. Since the nutritious needs of female animals fluctuate more than those of male animals, an illustration of a cow’s nutritious needs versus what the veld provides should provide a clear example – and take the hassle out of compiling the best feed regime for your cows!

By using our experience BioMinerale can determine specific shortages of each herd at specific times of the year, a tailor-made lick program can be compiled for a specific farming operation. In this way, the ideal combination of nutrients can be fed at the right time, to ensure maximum cost-efficiency.