Optimise Animal Health and Production | Hill Laboratories - NZ

Optimise Animal Health and Production

Optimise Animal Health and Production

Date: 6 Jul 2020
Author: Hill Laboratories

We hope that by the time you are reading this, the worst effects of the wide-spread drought will be over and pasture-covers are established once again. Please note that the principles for optimal animal health can be applied to both pasture-based systems and supplementary greenfeed crops.

Pasture testing is becoming an integral tool for progressive farmers wanting to ensure their livestock are fed well for optimal animal health and production. The quantity of feed provided is important for fill, but the quality and nutrient content is critical for livestock performance (feed conversion efficiency) and animal health.

When pastures are abundant, marginal nutrient levels may still adequately supply the animal’s requirement. However, during feed shortage the same levels will be inadequate. There are also seasonal effects to consider – where nutrients in pastures will vary through a growing season. An example is provided below, from a pasture data study carried out a few years ago, showing typically low pasture-magnesium levels through the winter period.

2a72a139 5d0c 4361 aa91 9d6b8daa1b5b   

Hill Laboratories offers a wide range of Pasture & Feed Test options to suit all needs, but the Mixed Pasture Profile (MPast) is highly recommended for most seasons. This profile provides a comprehensive analysis of the pasture's mineral content and includes chloride, crude protein and ME. The profile reports nutrient indices to help assess the risk of metabolic disorders e.g. the Dietary Cation Anion Difference (DCAD). Tests reported in this profile are as follows:

  • Nitrogen (N)
  • Phosphorus (P)
  • Potassium (K)
  • Sulphur (S)
  • Calcium (Ca)
  • Magnesium (Mg)
  • Sodium (Na)
  • Iron (Fe)
  • Zinc (Zn)
  • Manganese (Mn)
  • Copper (Cu)
  • Boron (B)
  • Molybdenum (Mo)
  • Cobalt (Co)
  • Selenium (Se)
  • Chloride plus Crude Protein
  • Digestibility
  • ME

A more comprehensive profile is the Extended Feed Profile (ExtFed), providing the tests listed as above but with additional feed quality measures of fibre, soluble sugars and starch. In some conditions, it will be important to test for nitrate-N (NO3-N) to check that the greenfeed offered is not a toxicity risk to livestock. Please refer to our technical note for further information on pasture & feed test options.

Talk to your animal nutritionist, consultant or nutrient advisor to find out more about pasture testing, or order your tests on-line using the customer portal on our website.