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How to transition stock onto Fodder Beet

Posted by Sam Searle on Apr 30, 2018 1:29:45 PM


Fodder Beet has been something between magic & revolutionary for many farmers over the last few years. Its the wonder crop that can substantially increase the winter carrying capacity of a farm, allowing for more stock or opening up other opportunities for the operation. Here we tell you how much beet to feed out & when in order to successfully transition to the crop without losses.

Beware of the Fodder Beet pitfalls

However feeding out Fodder Beet is not without its pitfalls, if you don't make the transition right it can end up costing you a lot of dead stock. This is because cattle are prone to rumen acidosis while transitioning on to any type of feed, but this is substantially increased with fodder beet because of its high sugar content that can lead to dangerous levels of lactic acid build up in the rumen & when severe enough the acidosis causes death.


How to feed Fodder Beet out without losing stock

Obviously your stock are going to need to be transitioned to this crop very carefully by gradually feeding out more beet at each time until they are safely consuming the amount that you wish.

It is recommended that you slowly introduce fodder beet over a 14 - 21 day period in which you gradually decrease the pasture/ silage allocation & increase the fodder beet amount you feed out until the desired total allocation is reached.


How much Beet & when to feed during transition?

Mature cows should be started with about 1-2kg of fodder beet dry matter per cow per day. This allocation should be increased by about 1kg every second day until the desired allocation is reached.


Heifers & Yearlings should be started with 1kg of fodder beet dry matter per cow per day with amount only increased by 0.5kg every second or third day until the desired allocation is reached.


However if the stock is not eating all the beet bulbs & there is feed left over from the previous days break or feed out, do not increase the allocation until all beet is consumed.


Fodder Beet being loaded into a silage wagon

Using a Beet Bucket to harvest the crop & feed through a silage wagon during transition is ideal, this way you can harvest & feed out the exact amount required as you need without the guess work.


Find out how a Beet Bucket can help you with the job of transitioning: Beet Bucket info


What should the total feed out amount of Fodder Beet be once transitioned?

Fodder Beet should not ever be more than 70% of a cows total diet! The total allocation of beet for a cows diet should never exceed 70% when transitioned, the remaining 30% should be a long fibre such as silage or hay, the fibre should also be fed before the beet. This comes to about 8kg of Beet dry matter per day for a cow (maximum) with the remaining 4-5kg dry matter from other feed. In short do not feed more than 8kg of Beet dry matter per cow per day.


Graph shows Rumen ph when more than 70% of beet is fed after transition (this was 85% beet & 15% straw) well above recommended limits.


Considerations for feeding out Fodder Beet

Hungry stock are generally at the greatest risk of over eating & suffering acidosis, so your stock should be well fed before being put onto beet when transitioning & also after transition to prevent them gorging themselves (cows can eat up to 3-4kg of fodder beet per hour!).


To help prevent overeating you should also have good fencing separating stock from the fodder beet not being fed out.


As with any fodder crop you should always wait until any frost has lifted until you let the stock onto the crop or feed it out.


Vigilance - Keep a close eye on your stock during the transition period (not just for the first 15 minutes), if you see any cows that do not look well call the vet to check them.


Once transitioned Fodder Beet is the supplement feed of your dreams! High yeilding, High capacity & Low fertiliser & growing requirements. Just make sure you get the transition right!


If you have any questions about feeding out fodder beet & how to transition make sure you get in touch with us, we want to make sure you get this right!


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Topics: Fodder Beet, Silage & Winter Feed Handling, Tips, Hacks & How To's