Feeding potatoes to cattle is not a new thing, with many feeding them on the regular. But are there any advantages?
In short, yes there are. Feeding potatoes to cattle is the equivalent of feeding grains such as barley, as they have an equal feeding value. Not only this, but they are crammed full of Vitamin A and are an excellent energy source. They are though, are low in protein and are best served to cattle, with a protein supplement.
One other notable benefit is the savings in feed costs. One can buy potatoes cheaply these days and cull or waste spuds can even purchased, if you know the right person. We all know how expensive feed can be these days and every penny counts.
How to go about its introduction:
Introducing a high quantity of spuds to your stocks diet is not a good idea. It should be introduced slowly, in small rations to begin with, over a two to three week period. This helps prevent problems in the digestive system of the animals.
From here gradually build up how much you are feeding them. To prevent choking, it is best to chop the potatoes beforehand, whilst also not forgetting to remove any green stalks in the process. This is because these stalks are toxic. No more than 2-3kgs should be given, per day, per cow.
In dairy cows, it is important to avoid replacing over a fifth of their dry matter rations with spuds, this could cause problems with milk production. It can cause milk fat depression. In beef animals, it is best to avoid feeding anything over 50% of their daily feed ration. This is simply to avoid digestive problems, though the optimal feeding levels, studies have found, is 20%.
Cattle should, as always, have access to good quality silage when feeding potatoes, to ensure maximum results. Potato peels and waste can also be given to stock and hold much the same benefits. It is known to be very tasty to cattle, due a dropping of its pH from being exposed to the air.
In Ireland, we tend to enjoy the delicious spud on a regular basis for dinner. Maybe we should give the cattle a chance to enjoy it too?