In this session Dr. Garry Waghorn updated the membership on research pertaining to feeding fodder beet to cows. Some of the key messages include:
- Not all fodder beets are created equally; nutritional composition varies considerably. Feed testing is warranted.
- There are still a lot of unknowns when it comes to how fodder beet behaves within the rumen. Individual cows with rumen pH meters had markedly different pH values even when consuming similar diets.
- While far away dry cows have a relatively slow metabolism, they are still growing a calf and require a balance of protein. Straw alone is not an appropriate roughage to feed with fodder beet because that combination of feeds is nutritionally inadequate.
- Dry cows appear to tolerate a higher percentage of fodder beet in their diets as compared to lactating cows. This is probably because long periods between meals mean sluggish microbes.
- Preliminary studies are showing a reduction in methane yield, urine volume, and urinary N concentration when fodder beet is incorporated into the diet of lactating cows grazing ryegrass white clover pastures. Caution is required so as not to feed too much fodder beet, tipping the balance and increasing the risk of rumen acidosis.
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