Making The Most From Crop Stubble
After the header has stripped a paddock, there is still potential to reap some dollars from the crop. Here are a few key points on how to manage stock grazing crop stubble.
Not all stubbles are equal. In order of value for live weight gain, canola with green reshoot ranks the best; next comes lupins, and then pea or bean residue, and last but not least are cereal stubbles. To take advantage of good stubbles, move most deserving stock (prime lambs, weaners and mating ewes/cows) onto better paddocks. Keep an eye on the paddock though, as soon as the green is grazed off live weight gains will drop.
Stock eat the best bits first. Residual grain and plant heads are the first to go. Sheep will be more efficient than cattle at picking up spilt grain. Leaf is the next to disappear and stem is last. The table below shows the relative nutrient value of plants parts. While stem makes up the majority of the crop, it certainly has the lowest nutrient value. Grain protein can give an indication of stubble quality. High protein grain usually yields a higher protein straw.
Stock rate is another aspect to consider. Keeping stock rates low reduces the amount of feed lost to trampling. Low stocking rates also keep leaf material available for longer.
As the best of the paddock is removed a supplement should be offered to maintain dietary integrity. Grain, lupins or cottonseed meal can significantly boost live weight gains. Alternatively, a NPN based supplement can maintain appetite and encourage strong grazing.
FibrePro contains a slow release protein that simulates the effect that lupins or soybean meal have in the rumen. Additionally, FibrePro has trace minerals that are equally important for maintaining appetite. When NPN is offered to livestock grazing stubble, up to a 30% increase in plant digestibility ca be measured.
As FibrePro is offered free choice, is intake regulated and not affected by weather, it is a cheap and practice method of supplementing cattle and sheep on stubble.