High yields, consistent quality and emerging environmental benefits make fodder beet (FB) an important feed in South Island dairy systems. However, these benefits may be negated by animal-health issues associated with some FB-feeding regimes. To quantify the range and prevalence of feeding regimes, a telephone survey focussing on practices in 2018 was conducted in Canterbury, Otago and Southland. Of the farmers surveyed, 69% fed FB, 24% had never fed FB and 8% of farmers had stopped feeding FB. The most frequently cited reasons for having stopped feeding FB were animal-health issues, cost and management challenges. Most (82%) respondents feeding FB determined allocation by yield and break area. Almost all farmers (98%) transitioned cattle on to FB, over an average of three weeks. Of those that fed FB to non-lactating cows in winter, the mean allocation was 10.3 kg DM/cow/day (66% of the diet), and 12% fed FB ad libitum. A greater proportion of herds fed FB (41% of herds) reported metabolic issues (>5% of the herd affected) compared with herds not fed FB (23%). This survey is valuable to inform future research and reinforces the need to continue investigating animal-health issues associated with FB-feeding, with an emphasis on metabolic issues. Keywords: fodder beet; winter crop; animal health
Proceedings of the New Zealand Society of Animal Production, Volume 80, Online, 101-106, 2020
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