Review/Oorsig Volume 22, Issue 01 - Page 12

Oorsig/Review Dr Ariena Shepherd Feed is the biggest expense in all livestock systems as well as the most important factor in the production of any product. However often very little attention is given to planning fodder flow. Essentially it is needs versus what is available and how to balance the differences. Needs are all the nutritional needs of each animal in the system for every day of the year. This is done on a spreadsheet taking into account number of animals, their sizes, reproductive stages and offspring produced. A second spreadsheet is created representing all the available feed resources including quantity and quality and when it is available. The next step is to compare the spreadsheets and plan how to overcome the differences. Estimating nutritional needs are done by simply using body mass and stage of reproduction. Many publications are available which can give very detailed information. This can be added over time as the planning evolves. If there is more than one animal species a separate sheet must be done for each or if there is more than one breeding season it is also better to do it on separate sheets and then combine it afterwards. Evaluating grazing and pastures requires using some measuring methods. The most accurate is cutting, drying and weighing. However, this is very time and labour intensive. Non-destructive methods are quicker and less expensive but are limited in accuracy. The most commonly used are the raising plate meter, comparative yield method and the meter stick. Areas can be calculated using Google Earth or existing farm maps. Nutritional values of veld grazing will depend on season, 12 Fodder Flow Planning