The answer is again yes, Turnips have long been given to cattle, especially in the dairy sector.
Turnips have been tried and tested and proven to be a valuable food resource to cattle in particular. They enable farmers to provide high-quality feed, during winter months, while also helping to maintain an animals milk production, hence why they are used in the dairy sector by some.
Planting your own turnips might seem like a chore, but it actually provides a lot of benefits for the land. It helps establish new pastures, by ridding the soil of weeds, disease and soil pests. This therefore, improves pasture quality and production greatly.
Before planting a whole patch of turnips or deciding to begin feeding turnips to your cattle, there are a number of considerations to take into account. Firstly, there are some health issues, connected to the overfeeding of turnips to cattle. Portion sizes should always be examined firstly, to ensure no cow is getting too much in their diet.
If allowing stock to graze on turnips, they can lose condition, if the pasture is short. There is extra protein in turnips, which does help increase milk production, but in turn affects a cows condition. To prevent this, between 2-3kgs of silage or grass should also be given with the turnips.
Bloating can also be a problem after switching cattle on to turnips, though this can be overcome by putting them out to graze on pasture or via drenching. If turnips are introduced into your animal's diet to quickly, this can also cause problems. In some cases, Rumen acidosis can occur. This again can be prevented by the slow introduction of the crop into the animal’s diet.
The leaves of the turnip can also present a danger to stock, cattle especially. In some cases, cattle can come down with blood mineral disease, a brain disorder and a breathing disorder. Though, if this happens it is usually due to excessive feeding.This should not let you be put off from feeding turnips, as mentioned above those dangers are sourced from the leaves.
What are the benefits then?
Well, feeding turnips to cattle does provide a great source of necessary nutritional values. Turnips are known to have a high protein content, often up to 20% DM in some cases. Protein in the crop can vary greatly from 12% up to as much as 20%.
Not only does Turnips contain a good protein level, but they also contain a valuable energy source. Most turnips contain Metabolic energy levels from 12 to 13 Mj/kg DM. As well as that, the crop generally has a DM percentage of between 9 and 11%.
How to introduce it:
Like with every new feed you begin to feed your stock, Turnips should be introduced at a slow pace. In the first five days. A maximum of 2kgs should be given per cow, per day. From there this can be gradually increased to 5kgs per cow per day.
A turnip should always make up less than one-third of an animal’s diet. Like with spuds, Turnips should be chopped up into smaller portions before given to stock. Although choking cases are not as common as with spuds, it is still a danger.
Always ensure you stock have a regular supply of other feed sources such as silage, whilst also having constant access to clean water. An iodized salt-trace is also advised to be supplemented, to ensure no further health problems.
Looking for a new source of nutritional feed, at a lower cost, for your animals? Then, turnips may be the solution you were looking for!