Optimise forage utilisation by stimulating rumen activity with forage supplements

Livestock producers looking to make the most of grazed forage can increase intake and digestion by 10 percent when supplementing pastures with a nutrient-rich forage supplement, says Dr Alison Bond, nutritionist for Rumenco.

“Supplying a balanced combination of nutrient-rich ingredients, forage supplement blocks stimulate the rumen to work harder by fuelling and increasing the rumen bug population. This results in up to a 10 percent improvement in forage intake and digestion,” explains Dr Bond. “As we navigate a time of record high concentrate prices, improving forage utilisation will have a significant impact on the total feed budget.”

Livestock performance increases

In multiple trials, Rumenco’s Rumevite forage supplements show an increase in intake and digestion which has been proven to have significant impacts on livestock performance. 

In a study of 156 head of store cattle on five different farms, livestock supplemented with Rumevite Cattle Booster had a 25kg liveweight gain advantage over 105 days compared to the control group. Performance advantages carried through into the finishing period, with supplemented cattle maintaining the 25kg weight increase and therefore finishing 28 days ahead of the control group. 

“When valuing liveweight gain at £2.00/kg, the margin over feed cost for supplementing grazing stock with Rumevite Cattle Booster was £137.36/head, compared to £109.00/head for the group that did not receive supplementation. The un-supplemented cattle required feed for an additional 28 days, costing an additional £36.55/head in extra concentrate and silage costs,” explains Dr Bond. 

Similar results have been seen in finishing lambs in a study at Plumpton College in Sussex. Despite having a 300g disadvantage to the control group at the start of the study, lambs supplemented with Rumevite Quality Lamb had a daily liveweight gain of 189g, which resulted in a 36.7kg liveweight at 45 days to slaughter. The control group only gained 94.3g/day, finishing in 83 days at 36.3kgs. 

“Not only did supplemented lambs have greater daily liveweight gains at grass and finish 38 days sooner, but they also achieved greater carcase grades than the control group,” says Dr Bond. 

For producers looking to improve ewe fertility, trials have found Rumevite Sheep Super, which contains fish oil, can increase the lambing percentage by up to 22% when fed in the eight week period around tupping. 

“The supplement block formulation helps ewes reach optimal body condition ahead of tupping, supporting ovulation – which can lead to more ewes holding service in the first cycle,” says Dr Bond.

According to Dr Bond, Rumevite is a multipurpose product, with high energy and protein options to meet livestock nutrient requirements and daily requirements of minerals, vitamins and trace elements to boost livestock performance while supporting immunity, health and fertility.

How to supplement

Unlike concentrates, forage supplements allow for little and often feeding, which results in less pH variation in the rumen. Because stock can have 24/7 access to feed blocks, it is a great way to reduce bullying at the trough, adds Dr Bond. They are also convenient, significantly reducing the amount of time it takes to feed.

With a product range consisting of eight different feed blocks, Rumevite supplementation can be tailored to suit livestock nutrition requirements at any point during the grazing or housing period. 

To budget for intakes, cattle will consume 300-500g/head/day and growing cattle will consume 200-300g/head/day. Ewes can be expected to take 100-250g/head/day while lambs will consume 100-150g/head/day. While feed blocks are weatherproof, they should be supplemented in a container with drainage to avoid wastage. They should also be placed away from any waterways. 

Rumevite gets a new look 

Available in a circular block form, Rumenco has recently updated the product line to include a new shape block, which maintains the same 22.5kg volume as the original block.  

“Along with helping to meet livestock energy requirements and increasing forage utilisation, feeding Rumevite has other additional benefits. The inclusion of a full range of minerals, vitamins and trace elements further supports overall animal health and performance,” explains Dr Bond. “The new shape feed blocks will also contain Phytotec, an all-natural blend of plant extracts and fermentation products to support feed conversion, robust rumen health and production.” 

The Rumevite brand has also had a refresh, with farmers able to find their trusted grazing supplements in a new bag design that features silhouettes of colour coded livestock based on product purpose.  

As the new bags hit feed merchant shelves, Rumenco is hosting an online spot the difference competition, with one winner receiving a Tru-Test weighing package sponsored by Wise Agriculture with a value of more than £4,000. The competition can be accessed at https://bit.ly/newrumevite. 

“For more than 60 years, Rumevite has been allowing UK livestock farmers to maximise their forage utilisation while providing stock with essential nutrients for improved performance,” says Dr Bond. “As we go into this next generation of farming, we will go forward with the right tools to continue to support farming businesses.” 

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About The Author

John Swire - Editor of Agronomist and Arable Farmer as well as responsibility for the Agronomist and Arable Farmer and Farm Business websites. After 17 years milking cows on the family farm John started writing about agriculture in 1998 and has since written for a variety of publications and has developed a wide circle of contacts within the industry. When not working John is a season ticket holder at Stoke City and also of late has become a fitness freak, listing cycling, swimming and walking as his exercises of choice.