Grain balancer delivers
A RECENT trial conducted in the Boyd family’s sheep feedlot outside Cowra has shown a new-generation grain balancer has dramatically outperformed a conventional concentrate.
The trial compared the performance of two pens of 80 lambs fed a barley-lupin ration containing either CopRice VitaMinBuf or a conventional sheep feedlot concentrate over 56 days.
Before entering the feedlot, each lamb was vaccinated against clostridial diseases, drenched for worms and injected with Vitamins A, D3 and E to support immune system function and B12 to encourage appetite.
An electronic ID tag was placed in the ear of each lamb to monitor weekly growth rates and to provide the ability to draft any slower-growing lambs into separate pens as required.
Lambs fed VitaMinBuf recorded a higher average daily gain (+11.2%) and higher daily feed intake (+13.1%) than lambs fed the other concentrate.
This improved performance translated into a higher total weight gain (2.06 kg) and higher gross margin per lamb (+$2.06/head), despite higher feed costs (+$3.88/head).
There were no recorded deaths, pushing the gross margin per pen even higher (+$250.67/pen).
CopRice VitaMinBuf was developed by CopRice nutritionist Nicole Logg in conjunction with colleagues from the company’s Leeton mill.
A qualified livestock nutritionist with more than 15 years’ experience, Nicole and husband Robert Logg run about 1100 Merino and SAMM cross-bred ewes joined to SAMM and White Suffolk rams on their 1400-hectare property at Barmedman.
“About three years ago, we started looking for a concentrate to use in our own feeding program,” Nicole said.
“We were feeding barley, lupins and vetch hay, so we had sufficient protein but we needed a concentrate to supply the other ingredients we wanted.
“We wanted something that was easy to use, would keep our sheep safe from grain poisoning and urinary calculi and would help to optimise growth.
“I couldn’t find anything that contained what I wanted or wasn’t ridiculously expensive, so I formulated my own.”
Besides a balanced mix of vitamins, minerals, CopRice VitaMinBuf contains “new generation” buffers and medications to maximise the health and performance of grain-fed sheep.
“We packaged up everything we needed using tried-and-tested ingredients and then ‘super-charged’ these formulations by adding proven new ingredients to optimise health and growth and complement modern genetics,” Nicole said.
“There’s nothing ‘new’ in terms of the base ingredients in grain balancers, but there certainly are better versions and new ingredients available.
“For example, we incorporated one of the best buffers on the market and introduced yeast to help maintain a stable rumen environment to improve digestibility and rumen health.
“We also added organic selenium and extra Vitamin E to support the immune system, which is critical during the induction period, and for muscle development. We’ve also added organic chromium to support growth rates.
“The objective is to provide a safe concentrate pellet that promotes rumen health, prevents urinary calculi and supports growth so the lambs can realise their full genetic potential.
“The healthier we can keep the lambs, the better they will do in the feedlot.”
Nicole is justifiably proud to see ‘her’ product come to market.
“It’s really exciting to see something that I developed for use on our own farm being offered to other producers,” she said.
“This trial has shown some really positive results in terms of performance and safety.
“The lambs went straight onto the feed without problems, there were no mortalities and there was a definite difference in growth rates.”
Barley (10pc CP) 85pc; Cracked lupins (30pc CP) 10pc; Concentrate 5pc: Total 100pc. Cost grain mix $310.50; Straw (@$50/t) 8.26pc: Cost total ration $288.97
Barley (10pc CP) 87.5pc; Cracked lupins (30pc CP) 10pc; Concentrate 2.5pc: Total 100pc. Cost grain mix $306; Straw (@$50/t) 9.56pc: Cost total ration $281.54.
No. of head 80; Entry weight (kg) 38.24; Exit weight (kg) 58.68; Total weight gain (kg) 20.44; Average daily gain (kg/day) 0.365; Average daily intake (kg/day) 1.73: Feed conversion efficiency 4.74.
No. of head 80; Entry weight (kg) 39.16; Exit weight (kg) 57.54; Total weight gain (kg) 18.38; Average daily gain (kg/day) 0.326; Average daily intake (kg/day) 1.53; Feed conversion efficiency 4.70.
Total additional carcase value (48pc dressing @ $6/kg) $58.87; Total feed costs (56 days) $28.00; Margin per lamb $30.87; No. deaths (head) 0; Total margin per pen $2469.38 (80 hd).
Total additional carcase value (48pc dressing @ $6/kg) $52.93; Total feed costs (56 days) $24.12; Margin per lamb $28.81; No. deaths (head) 3; Total margin per pen $2218.71 (77 hd).