Yield is only part of the winter feed story

May 2020: There’s a lot of focus on measuring winter feed crops at the moment, so this story is about what to look for. 


Crop yield is obviously very important. And don’t assume a dry matter percentage when assessing this. Test the dry matter as it varies widely.


But yield is only part of the story when it comes to animal wellness and nutrition. Feed quality is also important. 


The first thing most people think when they hear the words ‘feed quality’ is ME, or metabolisable energy. This is the energy in the crop animals use to sustain themselves, either for maintenance or for growth.


The amount of ME required per animal per day varies depending on several factors. But these numbers are available for all classes of stock on the DairyNZ and Beef+Lamb NZ websites.


The key point here is that the higher your ME for a winter crop, the fewer kg of dry matter your animals have to eat to reach their daily energy intake targets.

Likewise, low ME means they have to consume more dry matter to reach those targets.


As well as energy, all animals need crude protein – or CP - as part of a complete diet. This is really important when feeding fodder beet. It is low in protein, and needs to be supplemented with another source of feed to make up for that.


Our advice? Get your feed crops lab tested for ME and CP as well as dry matter. That way you’ll have all information you need to provide animals a complete diet over winter.


We can help with more advice – just give us a call 0800 449 955.