Uniblock develops mineral buckets to balance deficiencies in catch crops

An animal health company has reacted to the recent increase in the acreage of catch crops grown in Ireland by launching two new products to provide cattle and youngstock with the correct mineral intakes to balance these crops.

Tillage farmers are being incentivised to grow fodder rape, kale, turnips and other catch crops with payments of €100/ha.

This has led to an increase in the popularity of these crops, but care must be taken when feeding these, warns Dr. Amanda Dunn of Uniblock.

“It is important to have a plan when out-wintering cattle,’’ she says. “Gradually adapting the cows to brassica crops is vital as they provide very high sources of energy (ME) and rumen degradable protein, but are generally low in structural fibre.

For this reason they should be supplemented with another fibre source such as straw, silage or hay to keep the rumen right.’

It is recommended that brassica crops should be limited to 50% of dry matter (DM) intake.

In addition to this, the mineral requirement of cattle will also be altered and therefore requires supplementation.

Brassica fodder crops are generally low in phosphorus and magnesium as well as other trace elements such as copper, iodine, selenium, manganese, zinc and cobalt.

It is important to identify that these crops are typically high in calcium and potassium which is a concern in cows that are close to calving as it may increase the risk of milk fever, Dr. Dunn points out.

With this in mind, Uniblock has recently introduced a new mineral bucket which is specifically formulated to suit dry cows out-wintered on kale or other fodder crops.

Forage Pre-Calver supplies cattle with high levels of trace elements to include protected copper and zinc and higher magnesium and phosphorus content.

It is recommended that dry cows are not fed fodder crops such as kale for approximately three weeks pre-calving as a result of their high calcium and potassium content.

Out-wintering weanlings on brassicas can also suit some systems; therefore, Uniblock has also developed a complete feed lick to deliver essential minerals at the correct balance to fit their needs.

Forage Vitulix is made from dehydrated molasses with a DM content of 97%. At a feed rate of 200g per day, this lick will provide 14MJ ME and minerals, says Dr. Dunn.

If it is used for 100 days it will cost approximately €24/weanling, she calculates.

Dr. Dunn advises farmers to allocate an area with grass only to allow cattle to lie down and be sheltered when they aren’t grazing and to place buckets close to water troughs to encourage good intakes.

Forage Vitulix contains protected selenium alongside protected copper, which is key as brassicas tend to be higher in sulphur.

For more information on Vitulix Pre-Calver Click here