Feeding Pellets to Livestock After a Bushfire
After a bushfire pasture, hay, silage and other feeds may be destroyed or in short supply.
Bought in hay, silage and grains or pellets may have to be fed to stock after a bushfire. When introducing new feeds:
- Always introduce grain or pellets very slowly to avoid lactic acidosis and grain engorgement which can be fatal.
- Always ensure there is adequate, fresh water available for all animals.
- Consider that dominant stock may gorge food stuffs and keep subordinate stock away from feed troughs etc (and gorging can lead to lactic acidosis).
- Always provide adequate hay and roughage to stock. The grain content of pig and poultry feeds may also be harmful to ruminants that are not used to a high grain diet. Make sure hay is available and grain or feed containing grain is introduced slowly over 7-10 days.
- Ensure that pellets fed to stock are suited to the species of livestock being fed, e.g. pigs should only be fed pig pellets, sheep should only be fed sheep pellets etc. Cattle pellets can include a high level of copper. High levels of copper can be toxic for sheep or goats. There have been cases where people have fed cattle pellets to sheep and lost many sheep as a result. Only feed the type of pellets suited to your livestock, do not substitute with pellets for a different species.
- Pig and poultry pellets may contain "restricted animal material" or RAM (animal protein of some kind) and it is illegal to feed this to ruminants. It is a legal requirement that all bags of pellets offered for sale are clearly marked as to whether they contain "restricted animal material" or not. That ban is in place to help prevent mad cow disease (and its equivalent in sheep, known as 'scrapie').
- Be careful to read the label on the bag and only feed to those animal types listed. Reputable companies list what the feed should NOT be fed to - treat these warnings seriously. There are some ingredients in various stock feeds that are toxic to some species.