Drought increases the risk of unacceptable residues in stock. Risks include contaminated feed, increased intake of contaminated soil, concentration of existing residues as animals lose condition, and many other causes. Refer to Drought increases residue risks for details before purchasing stockfeed or making feeding decisions.
The use of manufactured feeds in the form of pelleted rations can be convenient when only a few animals are to be fed or when grain handling and storage facilities are not available. When feeding pellets, the basic procedures for grain feeding apply; failure to follow these procedures can cause deaths.
The metabolisable energy (ME) concentration of pelleted feed can be estimated from the crude fibre content, stated on the label. As the fibre level increases, the energy level decreases.
When buying feed, compare available feeds on the basis of energy content to determine nutritional value relative to price. See the Feed cost calculator.
The table below compares pelleted or manufactured feeds with wheat at $150 a tonne. It assumes wheat has an ME of 13.5. If prices are above those indicated, wheat would be the cheaper source of energy.
|Crude fibre of manufactured feed*|| Estimated energy|
| Break-even value†|
* The crude fibre value can be obtained from the manufacturer’s label.† The break-even value = (value of grain × ME of manufactured feed) ÷ ME of grain
A manufactured feed or pellet may be a complete ration, but the more finely it has been processed, the less roughage it contains. Digestive upsets and even deaths may result if finely processed feeds are not supplemented with roughage such as hay.
To maintain milk production, lactating animals fed a pellet or grain-based ration require a minimum of 20% of their intake in the form of good quality hay.
Early in a drought the source of roughage may be dry paddock feed. Hand feeding becomes the only alternative as the drought progresses.
Problems can occur if manufacturers suddenly change the basic ingredients of their products. These can be avoided or reduced if you:
The basic rules for feeding pellets are the same as for feeding grain.
For further information see Managing in drought, or contact your nearest NSW DPI Livestock Officer.
This Agnote is based on an earlier edition written by D. M. Ryan and P. J. Speers of NSW Agriculture.