Stored fodder is essential winter nutrition for the BG Miles Partnership stud and commercial beef and sheep farming operation in the Eastern Cape’s Cedarville area.
The family business, run by Deal Miles, his father, Benny, and sister, Rown, includes about 2 200 Dohne Merino mutton and wool breeding ewes, and approximately 350 Bonsmara beef breeding cows and their followers.
The farm lies in an area that receives an average annual rainfall of only 650mm to 680mm, mainly in spring and summer. Winters are usually frosty, with the minimum daily temperature dropping to below freezing.
According to Miles, these tough winter conditions quickly and substantially reduce the palatability, quality, and quantity of the farm’s’ sour veld natural grazing, making stored fodder a virtual necessity. Without this resource, the number of animals would have to be reduced significantly every year, which would not be feasible either practically or financially.
In addition, producing stored fodder helps keep the animals on as stable a plane of nutrition as possible all year round.
“Yet another reason for producing stored fodder is that female animal simultaneously lactating and nurturing a fetus need especially good quality supplementary nutrition during late winter and early spring when natural grazing is at its poorest,” says Miles.
“As soon as a calf or lamb is born, we want it to achieve maximum average daily weight gain via its dam’s milk because this contributes to money in the bank for us when the progeny are weaned and sold.”
Miles explains that the increased carrying capacity generated by stored fodder pays for the running costs of the tractors, drivers, and implements required to produce the fodder in the first place. However, to cover these costs properly, a sizeable number of productive animals must use this resource. Because understocking is not financially viable, planning is needed to ensure that all stored fodder is used as efficiently as possible.
Miles adds that growing and harvesting stored fodder maximizes the utilization of the yield potential of a particular land.
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