Beware acidosis threat from feeding green maize to cattle
Livestock producers feeding fresh, green maize should be aware of increased acidosis risk and ensure the ration is balanced accordingly.
Mole Valley Feed Solution's Peter Isaac said the mild autumn has meant some maize plants have stayed green, even when the cob has ripened, leading to potential problems at feed out.
"Green maize can create high acid loading in the rumen, which means there is a greater chance of acidosis and a greater requirement for buffering," he said.
He advised farmers to check dung consistency and ensure there was no variation or bubbling which can be an indication of acidosis. A drop in milk butterfat levels could also be a sign of poor fibre digestion caused by rumen acidosis.
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"Also assess cudding rates," he said. "Cows should be provided with enough structural fibre to encourage cudding and the production of saliva which has a natural acid buffering ability."
Where cudding rates were insufficient, Mr Isaac recommended adding straw to the ration or feeding bicarb or an acid buffer to aid rumen buffering.
"In contrast to last year, most producers have some good supplies of forage moving into the winter. There's real potential to get good performance from forage stocks, so it's crucial to avoid anything that can hit rumen efficiency and yields, like acidosis," he said.
Maize analysis is crucial to allow accurate ration formulation.
But when looking at analysis results it was important to consider pH levels, along with starch and dry matter. A pH of less than four would increase the risk of acidosis.
"Many producers will carry out a maize silage analysis as soon as the crop is harvested, when forced to feed out immediately.
"However it's important to do a second analysis 3-4 weeks after it's been put in the clamp, as fermentation can cause changes in quality," explained Mr Isaac.