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02-06-2016

Moist grains help dairy farmers compensate for shortfall in grass growth

Brewer’s grains offer dairy farmers a cost effective and nutritional source of feed to help supplement shortfalls in forage caused by poor grass growth.

Heavy rain and cold temperatures over the last few months meant that grass forecasts, particularly in the north, were not looking good this year. Fields that had been grazed since the New Year were looking very bare, and ungrazed fields were showing little improvement on February’s growth levels.

A report from SAC assessed that a lack of April growth would reduce this year’s grass yields by 10-15% and that average grass protein content would be low.

Thankfully, the weather in May has improved, helping to boost grass growth on most farms. However, some farmers are experiencing a shortage of grass and brewer’s grains would provide them with a cost effective feed to help plug this ‘gap’ in grass provision.

“Whilst grass and grass silage has been one of the lowest cost feeds available, current prices for larger deliveries of brewer’s grains offer a comparable alternative,” explains general manager of ForFarmers Dry, Moist and Liquid feeds division, Neil McInnes.

“Farmers can make a bulk order of brewer’s grains now, at good prices, to put in a clamp ready to use later in the year to help supplement grazing and grass silage supplies.”

The relative cost of brewer’s grains compared to forage sources is even more promising when DM losses during grazing and silage harvesting, transportation, storage and feed out, are all taken into consideration.

“Grazed grass has the highest level of loss at 25% utilised DM compared to 10% for zero-grazing and 17% for conventional silage,” stated Neil McInnes. “These hidden costs, even to grazed grass, are ones that farmers aren’t always aware of and don’t always consider when looking at relative feed costs.”  

The nutritional value of moist grains also compare favourably to grass and provide a consistent feed, taking out much of the variability of grazed grass and silage. 

 

Grazed leafy ryegrass*

Moist Grains

80% Moist grains + 20% DSBP

DM (%)

15-20

20-24

34-37

CP (% DM)

16-25

24

17.5

MER (MJ/Kg DM)

11.5

11-11.7

11.7-12.1

NDF (% DM)

42.9

59

46.2

*AHDB Dairy  

“The digestible fibre content of alternatives to forage sources is very important,” continues Neil McInnes. “Whilst the digestible fibre content of brewer’s grains is lower than grass, many of our customers combine it with dried sugar beet pulp or soya hulls, which are good sources of digestible fibre to ensile with the grains.”

 At a time of low milk prices and tight margins, brewer’s grains provide dairy farmers with a cost effective alternative to grass.

For more information about Brewer’s grains or Draff and how they could be used to support your dairy business, please telephone ForFarmers DML on on 0870 0500 306 or email info.dml@forfarmers.eu.