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18 Apr 2018
The late lactation period and start of the wintering programme coincides with Kiwifruit harvest and availability of surplus/reject fruit for use as a stock feed. They are good quality, with a high energy content but relatively low protein. With a typical feed analysis of 15-20% DM, 12 MJ ME/kg DM, it’s close to good quality autumn pasture, but with a much lower crude protein level at 5%.
However, like any change to the diet, a suitable transition period is required to minimise any disruption to production and cow health. If feeding to dry cows, start at about 5kg of fruit/cow/day (1kgDM), building up to maximum of half of the daily requirement. (3kg DM, or 15kg fruit/cow/day). Milking cows can fed up to 30% of their daily ration as kiwifruit (5-6kg DM, or 25-30kgfruit/cow/day). It’s important to ensure that the milking cows are being well fed and have a high grass intake (at least 10-12kg dry matter).
Kiwifruit is very high in soluble sugars and as a result, if individual intakes are higher than recommended, then there is a much greater risk of acidosis. There are a few guidelines to follow to minimise the risk of cows overeating:
- Know the approximate amount of kiwifruit which has been fed out (1 tonne = 1.25m³)
- Once you’ve started feeding kiwifruit, keep going and don’t miss days
- Feed kiwifruit out with, or after, other daily rations. This will reduce the chances of hungry cows gorging themselves
- Spread kiwifruit out well as this also reduces gorging
- If you plan on adding new cows to the mob (as in progressively adding to a dry cow mob), start the transition process again
- Increased attention is needed when feeding kiwifruit in the paddock as it is very difficult to control individual feeding levels
- To minimise the acidosis risk, preventative drenching with 50-75g baking soda/cow, twice daily, is a good option to use. If the cow becomes severely acidotic, then it’s a job for the vet
- A kiwifruit is just the right size to cause choking, especially if it’s hard and still unripe. Try and hook it out, rather than forcing it further down the throat.
It’s also important to monitor the ripeness level of the kiwifruit. The riper the fruit, the higher the soluble sugar level and the greater the risk of acidosis. Fruit harvested later in the season will also be riper. If you are combining fruit from different sources, the ripeness levels are likely to be different. If any of these situations apply, maintain feeding levels at the lower end of the scale. If stockpiling fruit, use the oldest fruit first and try to use each consignment within 4-5 days of delivery.
Managed properly, surplus kiwifruit can be an effective solution for both the stock farmer and the orchardist, but it’s not without its risks. For more information refer to Farmfact 1-61.
18 Apr 2018
- kgs DM/day
- kgs DM/ha
% in milk
Crude Protein Level