Baleage for Stockers

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lucky7chief

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Does anyone have experience with feeding baleage to stocker calves? I think I could use wheat or preboot fescue and get decent gains for low cost. Energy might be something I would need to supplement, but protein shouldn't be an issue if cut at the right stage. Baleage would let me do that.
 

TexasBred

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lucky7chief":27aznum3 said:
Does anyone have experience with feeding baleage to stocker calves? I think I could use wheat or preboot fescue and get decent gains for low cost. Energy might be something I would need to supplement, but protein shouldn't be an issue if cut at the right stage. Baleage would let me do that.
Wheat or rye would work because of the high protein content but timing is going to be the most important thing. Cut it too early and you get very little dry matter and a huge amount of water. Cut it late and you have little more than wet wheat straw. Energy will be low regardless so you might want to add some cracked corn or another energy source to the mix.
 
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lucky7chief

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Thanks, I have thought about some summer annuals to add in. I also thought about a little distillers or soy hulls for energy. It would just depend on pricing.
 

Lucky_P

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It's good feed, but be aware of the potential to have a trainwreck with botulism.
Every bovine case of botulism I've ever seen or suspected was associated with feeding baleage; recent conversation with one of my colleagues at the diagnostic lab at UofKY confirmed that they see it all too frequently, as well, in cattle being fed small-grain/cereal baleage.

Most recent case I had was a year or two back, but the producer lost about 40 yearling bulls & heifers... and still had 400 rolls on hand...
 

Stocker Steve

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Lucky_P":33239z7i said:
It's good feed, but be aware of the potential to have a trainwreck with botulism.
Every bovine case of botulism I've ever seen or suspected was associated with feeding baleage; recent conversation with one of my colleagues at the diagnostic lab at UofKY confirmed that they see it all too frequently, as well, in cattle being fed small-grain/cereal baleage.

How do you avoid this?
 

Lucky_P

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Lots of info out there; google 'botulism baleage'...
Seems like baling/wrapping at the appropriate moisture level is a big deal.
Here's one article: http://hayandforage.com/article-135-wet ... -risk.html
And an excerpt from another:

Should I be concerned with Botulism?
Clostridium botulinum is a bacterium that produces one of the most potent classes of toxins
known to man. The spores of these bacteria are widespread in the environment (soils in
particular) but are dormant. Under anaerobic conditions and with the right nutrients, the spores
can germinate and grow, releasing toxins.
To minimize the risk of botulinum toxicosis from baleage, wrap bales at the correct moisture
content (50-60%) and store them in areas that will reduce damage to the plastic from the
environment or from critters. Type C botulism toxicity is usually associated with decomposing
carcasses. This can be a problem if a dead animal is accidentally baled in the baleage or dry
haymaking process.
Botulism toxicity on dairy, beef, and other livestock farms occurs via ingestion of the toxin. The
potent neurotoxin impairs transmission of electrical impulses from nerve to muscle. Tongue
weakness is a commonly associated symptom of botulism toxicosis. In most cattle, the tongue
will retract into the mouth if it is pulled out to the side. In affected cattle, the tongue may lie limp
after being pulled or only slowly retract. Jaw movement and muscle tone is also severely
compromised. Cattle with botulism will also drool as a result of having a difficult time
swallowing. Botulism toxicity is often first diagnosed as an animal with “downer cow
syndrome.” When an outbreak occurs, it often affects multiple animals and at any stage of
lactation. Animals also usually do not show signs of nervousness or apprehension, which
eliminates diagnosis for listeriosis or milk fever. Death in cattle is often due to respiratory
failure, dehydration, or complications of being down for prolonged periods of time. Cattle can
recover from moderate exposures to botulinum toxin within 5 to 10 days.
Adapted from Botulism in Cattle by Dr. Limin Kung, Jr., Dept. of Animal & Food Sciences,
University of Delaware, Newark
 

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