n Stockfarm - The pros and cons of crop residues - feeds & grazing

Volume 7 Number 7
  • ISSN : 2221-7304



Crop residues are regarded as one of the most underestimated sources of roughage, posing numerous advantages. It is costeffective, contains substantial amounts of protein and animals grow rapidly on it, but is it all moonlight and roses for the livestock farmer who has this low-cost roughage available in winter? Crop residues, especially maize residues, are a valuable feed source for animals, says George le Roux, an independent grassland scientist. It presents many advantages to livestock farmers, especially on the financial side, but should be used correctly. There are some disadvantages and even dangers that producers have to bear in mind. If crop residues are used correctly, George explains, it can be to the advantage of both livestock and crop farming. “Under normal circumstances and with a realistic stocking rate, livestock will utilise no more than 40% of the crop residues. Once it has been grazed, approximately 60% of the organic matter remains on the fields and are ploughed back into the soil.” Research by Swart, Prinsloo and Van der Merwe has shown that fields with crop residues of 6,2 tons that are not grazed, will have 3,92 tons of crop residues remaining on the ground after winter. The same field that is grazed, will have approximately 3,09 tons of residues left after grazing. A total of 2,3 tons of dry matter are therefore lost during the winter as a result of weathering.

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