The cheapest way to grow animals is off good veld grazing. But veld may be deficient in essential elements, and during the dry winter months grass becomes woody and unpalatable, with low protein levels. Animals need supplementary nutrition to compensate for deficiencies and to maintain condition.
Correct nutrition is important throughout the seasons and at every stage of an animal’s life, especially when the animal is young, says Dieter Fleischmann, sales and marketing director of Afgri Animal Feeds. “There are numerous building blocks in a balanced diet. Feed should contain protein, energy, vitamins and minerals, and we at Afgri need to source these components from good quality feed like soya and maize.”
The weight of a mature animal is affected by nutrition in early life, and stunted growth owing to poor nutrition in the first months restricts the animal’s ability to fulfil its genetic potential.
During the summer months, when food is abundant, farmers should be creating a food bank for the long dry winter months. Fleischmann warns that while it is always critical to plan ahead when it comes to fodder flow, the war in Ukraine has now pushed up the prices of feed materials like urea, a component of winter licks. “It’s going to be tough to keep animals in good condition on the veld in the winter ahead, especially if there are no pastures,” he explains.
The low quality of winter forage leads to feed shortages, which are a major limiting factor in animal production. Small-scale farmers experience this in a very real way, as feed is often unaffordable. Strategy is vital to meet feed challenges and Afgri has expert advisors who can help farmers draw up action plans.
“It’s very important for farmers to have clear production objectives and to measure the return on the investment they make on nutrition,” says Fleischmann. He advises choosing for good quality animals that are better converters of grass and feed to protein. To find out more, visit www.afgri.co.za