Published Friday, 26th February 2016 in SAC Consulting news
A casualty animal recently submitted to one of SRUC's Veterinary Investigation Centres confirms earlier fears that some silages being fed to livestock this winter are low in protein.
cow, examined by Vets from the SAC Consulting Division of SRUC, was diagnosed
with a condition called rumen impaction.
stomach or rumen of a cow is effectively a large bag hosting millions of
microbes that help ruminant animals begin to digest the plant material they
eat. Rumen impaction occurs when what the animals eat contains insufficient
protein to supply these microbes which affects their activity. This
reduces the rate of fermentation or digestion and leads to blockages which slow
the progress of food into the next part of the digestive system. It also means
there is less space in the rumen for any new food the animal eats.
Investigation Officer Heather Stevenson comments:
SRUC warned that our analytical labs had identified that there were more lower
protein silages around than usual this winter. We highlighted the potential
risks of feeding low protein grass silages to spring calving suckler cows.
Animals not receiving enough protein from their feed often look healthy and
full which means their condition is sometimes not discovered until too late.
The case investigated was one of 2 cows to die in a group.”
recommending that any farmer who has not recently analysed their silage get it
done as soon as possible. While bulk and energy levels are often good low
protein content is difficult to spot.
there are signs in the dung which is far firmer and drier than normal for the
time of year,” comments Heather. “Blood samples can be used to confirm low
protein status and the farmer’s vet would notice other signs. But it is
important farmers keep alert.”
problems can arise in other ruminants, like sheep fed on similar silages, SRUC
recommends that farmers seek nutritional advice on the best way to provide
protein supplements. It is important to asses the animals body condition score
so that animals can be grouped and fed accordingly as many conventional protein
supplements are also high energy.
advisers from SRUC’s SAC Consulting Division can offer more specific advice on
the best way to provide suckler cow rations as they get closer to calving and
beyond. Concerned farmers can also contact their local SAC Consulting office
for guidance. Likewise expert advice is also available for local veterinary
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