Frequently Asked Questions
What are the merits of feeding pellets?
For producers with limited feed milling and mixing equipment, a pellet allows the feeding of a complete feed, with the animals taking in all their requirements for energy, protein, macrominerals, trace elements, vitamins, fibre, and rumen modifiers, in every single mouthful.
Is the fibre in a high energy pellet long enough to provide all the effective roughage the ruminant requires?
Whilst we can incorporate slowly fermentable fibre in a pellet to assist with rumen health, it is not equivalent to long roughage (ideally muzzle width) which is more effective in making the animal chew and salivate, which delivers salivary buffers to the rumen. This is why we recommend that sheep and cattle on our high energy pellets always have access to some form of roughage.
What makes Amplified Feed Solutions pellets superior to other pellets?
- Nutrient density. These pellets are formulated to a high metabolisable energy specification first, with protein and macromineral concentrations adjusted to meet the requirements of the given stock class.
- Metabolisable energy from fermentable carbohydrate and oil. High, but safe concentrations of fermentable carbohydrate are provided by Amplified Feed Solutions pellets to drive a vigorous rumen fermentation. Additional energy is also provided by the oils in protein meals whilst ensuring the oil concentration is low enough not to affect the populations of microbes in the rumen.
- True protein. Amplified Feed Solutions pellets contain no urea with the entire protein concentration in the pellet coming from high quality protein meals, pulses, and grains. This makes the pellet safer (if fed out in wet conditions) and results in greater efficiency for a given protein concentration because the true protein becomes available more gradually and also provides some protein subunits (amino acids) directly to the animal through intestinal absorption (bypass protein) which can be used directly by the target tissues or which can act as a building block for glucose production.
What is bypass protein?
Bypass protein is protein that escapes breakdown by the microbes in the rumen and is delivered directly to the ruminant in the form of protein subunits called amino acids. The supply of protein in this form is more efficient, but it is essential we focus on maximising microbial protein production in the rumen as the primary source of protein for the ruminant. This is why Amplified Feed Solutions pellets provide some bypass protein, but are formulated to maximise microbial protein production in the rumen through the provision of fermentable carbohydrate and rumen degradable protein.
What is metabolisable energy?
The best working definition of metabolisable energy is that it is the energy available for use by the animal. Metabolisable energy excludes energy lost in faeces, urine and methane.
What is Neutral Detergent Fibre (NDF)?
NDF is a laboratory measure of the structural carbohydrate fractions in plant parts, made up approximately of cellulose, hemicellulose and lignin. These components are slowly or non-digestible, and they are important to stimulate chewing and salivation, which deliver salivary buffers to the rumen. These buffers, primarily bicarbonate and phosphate buffers, help prevent the rumen from becoming too acidic from the production of the main energy output of the rumen fermentation, the volatile fatty acids. In addition to NDF, Amplified Feed Solutions pellets also supply a rumen modifier, lasalocid (Bovatec) which helps prevent the development of rumen acidity, improves fermentation efficiency and therefore growth rate and feed conversion ratio, and prevents sickness and deaths in young stock due to coccidiosis.
How should I start my stock on pellets with containment feeding using feed troughs?
Ensure roughage is available during the adaptation process, which takes approximately 10 to 14 days. Start stock on a moderate allocation of 1.25% of bodyweight as pellets on day one, after they have been filled with hay, and increase the allocation every two to three days by 0.25% increments until they begin to leave some pellets (with maximum intake being approximately 2.5 to 3% of their constantly increasing bodyweight).
How should I start my stock on pellets with containment feeding using self-feeder bins?
As with trough feeding, make roughage available ad lib during the adaptation process of 10 to 14 days, and restricted access to roughage should be provided thereafter. The pellet intakes as a proportion of bodyweight are the same as with trough feeding, but this is difficult to estimate with feeder-bins. In practice, we very gradually open the slats on the feeder every two to three days, aiming at almost ad lib intake by day 10 to 14 (“almost ad lib intake” means the stock can readily lick pellets out of the feeder but the pellets do not build up and spoil in the feeder-bin trough).
How should I start my stock on pellets as a supplementary feed in the paddock?
Introduce the pellets early, before pasture is depleted, so the stock can eat a mix of pellets and pasture. With breeders, we then adjust the allocation of pellets to maintain target condition score and to ensure we are supplying enough macrominerals (calcium, magnesium, sodium, phosphorus, potassium) to meet their requirements. The requirements for calcium and magnesium are increased by lactation. With growing stock, we adjust the allocation of pellets to preserve a generous pasture residual (say, 800 kg DM/ha with lambs, and 1200 kg DM/ha with cattle) and to maintain growth rate based on regular reweighs.
Why shouldn’t I just buy the cheapest pellet available and fill them up?
Less nutrient dense pellets reduce growth rate and result in an increased feed conversion ratio. Feed conversion ratio (kg feed dry matter/kg liveweight gain), in combination with feed cost, is the direct determinant of cost of gain. Stock grow faster on more nutrient dense feeds, which results in a lower feed conversion ratio (about an 83% inverse correlation), which results in a lower cost of gain. The better feed conversion ratio achieved with higher quality pellets generally results in a lower cost of gain.
Isn’t magnesium the only macromineral worth worrying about, so I could just put out some magnesium oxide?
Forages deficient in magnesium are frequently also deficient in calcium, and sodium plays an important role in a pump that drags magnesium across the rumen wall into the blood stream. Therefore, we formulated the Amplified Feed Solutions cow and ewe pellet to meet the requirements of cows and ewes in calcium, magnesium, and sodium (in addition to other macrominerals). The cow and ewe pellet is a way to deliver these minerals in a palatable form that we know breeders will eat. In addition, these pellets provide fermentable carbohydrate to maintain blood glucose, and bypyass protein to maintain the dam’s concentration of amino acids, both of which are dragged out of the dam by the foetus in late pregnancy.
Why worry about the inclusion of trace elements and vitamins?
Where stock are heavily reliant on a supplementary feed, have had limited access to green feed over recent months, or are in trace element deficient areas, additional trace elements and vitamins are necessary. Many feed supplements claim to provide these, but the concentrations are frequently below the minimum recommendations from the Australian Feeding Standards or the National Research Council, particularly with expensive ingredients such as vitamin E. The vitamin/trace element/rumen modifier premixes formulated specifically for the different Amplified Feed Solutions pellets provide vitamin and trace elements at the recommended minima at least.
Why do my hens lay eggs with thin or soft shells?
Calcium or Phosphorous deficiency, or imbalanced Calcium to Phosphorous ratio are the most common causes of thin and soft eggshells. Deficiency of some other trace minerals particularly Zinc and Copper, and also vitamin D3 deficiency can easily compromise eggshell quality. Panting, during the hot summer days, if coupled with an imbalanced feed can result in eggshell deformation.
Is there any advantage to not using feed with added medications such as antibiotics and Coccidiostats?
Antibiotics are most effective when used as a treatment measure to specific diseases. Continuous sub-therapeutic use of antibiotics in feed could lead to some residual being deposited in eggs or meat which can result in the emergence of antibiotic-resistant bacteria.
How long should I expect my hens to lay for?
Laying hens start laying at around 18-20 weeks of age, and if provided with a high quality and balanced feed may continue to lay eggs up until they are 100 weeks or even older.
What is restricted animal material (RAM) and why do some manufacturers choose to use it?
Restricted animal materials (RAM) are protein meals of animal origin such as meat and bone meal, blood meal, feather meal etc… which are a cost-effective source of protein and some minerals i.e. Calcium and Phosphorus. However, despite making the final feed cheaper, they can be a potential source of Salmonella and E.coli contamination which cause some serious enteric diseases in both humans and animals.
Isn't all feed created equal? Should I just buy the cheapest feed I can find?
Feeds are formulated to provide all the nutrient requirements for optimum laying performance. Some of these nutrients include protein, energy, fat (linoleic acid), vitamins and macro (Ca, P and Na) and micro-minerals (Zn, Cu, Mn and Fe). A diet should be completely balanced to give the best laying performance. For example, if the feed is low in protein and linoleic acid it can result in small eggs, and eventually lower egg number and loss of body weight. Or feeding a diet with too much energy can make the birds fat which will increase the risk of jumbo eggs and cloak prolapse. The source of the energy and protein in the feed is also important, as low quality feed ingredients have lower digestibility and fail to provide the birds with all their nutrient requirements.
How much feed should I expect my hens to eat per day?
When laying hens start to lay at around 18 weeks of age, they usually have a daily feed intake of 80-100 grams. As the hens get older and lay bigger eggs their feed intake can increase to 120-130 grams per day. When the hens have free access to a balanced feed they can easily adjust their intake based on their body weight and egg production, and there is no risk of overeating. But if the feed is slightly deficient in one or more nutrients i.e. Calcium or protein the hens may eat more to make up for the deficiency.