Agri Vehicles Insurance from Greenlands

Author Topic: Can you feed potatoes to sheep?  (Read 15134 times)

PetiteGalette

  • Joined Dec 2011
Can you feed potatoes to sheep?
« on: January 15, 2012, 07:14:27 pm »
Well, the cider apples in the orchard have now all gone, so I've no occasional 'treats' to give the sheep. The other resource we get given bags of, is potatoes................... Can potatoes be safely fed to sheep............. cooked, uncooked, peeled............................................?
A pessimist sees only the dark side of the clouds, and mopes; a philosopher sees both sides, and shrugs; an optimist doesn't see the clouds at all - he's walking on them.  ~Leonard Louis Levinson

Brucklay

  • Joined Apr 2010
  • Perthshire
    • Brucklay Pygmy Goats
    • Facebook
Re: Can you feed potatoes to sheep?
« Reply #1 on: January 15, 2012, 07:19:41 pm »
I'd like to know that too - thanks
Pygmy Goats, Shetland Sheep, Zip & Indie the Border Collies, BeeBee the cat and a wreak of a building to renovate!!

bigchicken

  • Joined Nov 2008
  • Fife Scotland
Re: Can you feed potatoes to sheep?
« Reply #2 on: January 15, 2012, 07:36:36 pm »
 
   
Department of Agriculture, Aquaculture and Fisheries
 Home | Franšais

 
   
  FEEDING POTATOES TO CATTLE
 


 

 
 

 
 

Murray Snowdon, Livestock Nutritionist

At a time when recycling and waste reduction are foremost in so many people's minds, it is interesting to note that cattle have been used as recyclers since man first domesticated animals and continue to play an important role in making use of unwanted food wastes, often referred to as byproduct or opportunity feeds.

Cull Availability

Because many byproduct feeds are wet or bulky, their use is often limited to the geographical area in which they are produced. Cull potatoes, one of the most readily available byproduct feeds in New Brunswick present a true opportunity for livestock feeders in this grain deficient region.

Culls are rejected for a number of reasons; size, colour, shape and disease are all factors in culling. Growing season, potato market value, and time of year all play major roles in cull availability, cost and quality. As many as 135 million tonnes of culls are available each year in New Brunswick.

Handling and Storage

Because a 10 tonne truckload of potatoes contains almost 8 tonnes of water there are severe limits on the distance which potatoes can be hauled economically.

Since potatoes can freeze, an insulated storage would be an ideal way to store them in the winter months, but the cost of erecting a building solely for this purpose is not justified. Storing cull potatoes, especially washed ones, presents problems in warm weather as well. These washed potatoes are particularly prone to spoilage. Obviously, rapid feedout is the best policy any time of year.

Producers should check with their supplier in order to avoid taking delivery of culls that contain a lot of rocks. These are hard on equipment and removing them from feedbunks is a time-consuming job.

Whole potatoes can be ensiled by putting them in layers in a horizontal silo with well wilted hay crop silage. Since cull potatoes are not always available when silos are being filled, this option is often not possible.

A mixture of 3 parts chopped potatoes to 1 part chopped hay can also be ensiled. The costs associated with this approach have made its use very limited.

The wet bulky nature of potatoes makes them best suited to a mechanized feeding situation where time and labour involved in handling are minimized. Many producers who attempt to feed potatoes in situations that require a lot of hand labour soon become discouraged and return to more traditional feeds.

Nutritional Value

Cull potatoes' main contribution to a livestock diet is energy; their high starch content puts them on par with feed grains in terms of energy content when considered on an equal dry matter basis.

Of course, moisture content must be taken into account when buying or feeding with 4.5 kilograms of potatoes required to replace one kilogram of corn or barley.

Since raw potato starch is quite resistant to digestion, feeding large amounts of potatoes will result in excessive starch bypassing the rumen. If this undigested starch reaches the lower intestinal tract, digestive upsets are likely. The recommended upper limits for potato feeding are in part a reflection of this concern.

Because of their very low fibre content, potatoes should not be considered a forage substitute but rather should be thought of as a high moisture grain. Potatoes are quite low in protein content and when fed in high amounts without protein supplementation will not give good animal performance or feed efficiency. The higher protein requirements (as a percentage of diet) of lighter cattle make protein supplementation especially important for light cattle fed potato diets. Typical potato nutrient content is given in Table 1.

Ration Introduction

Potatoes should be introduced to rations gradually, particularly in the case of cattle which have been recently shipped. Feeding high levels of a wet, starchy feedstuff such as potatoes places an additional stress on these animals and may lead to health problems.

Palatability

Although some adaptation is required, potatoes are quite palatable and are readily consumed by livestock. In research trials, dairy cows have consumed over 45 kg of cull potatoes per day.

Despite high levels of voluntary consumption, animal performance usually drops when potatoes make up much more than 30% of the diet dry matter; for most feeding situations it is best to restrict potato intake to levels lower than this.

Cooking

Potatoes are an excellent energy source for ruminant livestock (cattle and sheep) but the presence of anti-nutritional factors, as well as the difficulty in digesting potato starch make raw potatoes low in feed value for pigs. Cooked potatoes make a good energy source for pigs but feeding raw cull potatoes directly to cattle usually makes more economic sense.

Moisture Level

Because potatoes are 75-80% water, care must be taken to avoid combining them with other wet feeds to give a diet with greater than 70% moisture content; wet rations often lower feed intake and daily gains particularly in cold weather.

The wet manure that high moisture diets often cause makes it difficult and costly to keep animals dry and comfortable and is another reason for reduced performance on wet rations.

Fibre Levels

The digestive problems sometimes blamed on the high moisture content of potatoes are in fact related to their very low fibre content. When high levels of potato are fed, a source of fibre (roughage) is necessary in order to maintain a normally functioning and healthy rumen.

In the case of dairy cows, failure to provide enough roughage will cause a drop in milk fat test in addition to the possible digestive upsets associated with low fibre diets. The standard recommendations for minimum fibre (forage) still apply but should be given special attention when rations contain high levels of potatoes.

As little as 1 kg of hay per head per day will provide sufficient fibre for short-keep feeder cattle but cattle that will be on feed for greater than 60 days should receive more than this minimum.

Glycoalkaloids

Potato sprouts and potatoes that have turned green from exposure to the sun contain elevated levels of toxic alkaloids. Although a moderate number of sprouted or green potatoes are not cause for alarm, large amounts of this type of potato should be avoided.

Choking

The size and shape of potatoes make choking a possibility in potato-fed animals. Although animal losses to choking are relatively rare, the worry associated with the risk is an aggravation to some producers.

If feed bunks are designed so that the animals' heads are down while eating, the risk of choking is minimized. Having adequate bunk space helps to reduce competition for the potatoes and will also reduce choking. Small potatoes, especially if frozen are the most likely to cause choking and should be fed with caution. Chopping potatoes is the only way of eliminating the risk of choking but the payback on this practice is questionable.

Withholding Water

Some farmers restrict access to water or withhold water altogether from cattle being fed high levels of potatoes. The theory is that by reducing water intake the dry matter content of the feed in the digestive tract is reduced, the manure is drier and the cattle perform better. Despite the fact that this method appears to work for some farmers, the practice is not recommended because of the risk of dehydration and reduced animal performance.

Feeding Guidelines

Best results will be obtained when a long term, regular supply of potatoes can be obtained. A short term or sporadic supply is of questionable value to a feeding program.

Although exact feeding recommendations will change with every situation, a few guidelines apply generally. Table 2 provides feeding guidelines for various classes of cattle. Most of these levels could be safely exceeded but the likely drop in animal performance and feed conversion make the economics of doing so questionable.

Protein Supplementation For Potato Rations

Potatoes make a significant contribution of energy to a diet, but a relatively small contribution of protein. Failure to provide adequate protein supplementation accounts for the disappointing results that some farmers have experienced when feeding potatoes.

If potatoes are fed as a total or partial replacement for a grain mixture Table 3 provides some guidance on substitution levels.

For example, if potatoes are used to replace a 14% protein grain mix, each unit of the grain mix removed represents a mixture of energy, protein, minerals and vitamins. Potatoes readily replace the energy and partially replace the protein but make a very small contribution to the minerals and vitamins in the ration.

Mineral and Vitamin Supplementation of Potato Rations

Since potatoes are quite low in minerals (calcium and magnesium in particular), and vitamins, ration adjustments will be necessary for livestock fed a lot of potatoes. In some cases, the required minerals and vitamins will be present in the commercial protein supplement or can be incorporated into a custom protein supplement. In either of these situations, free-choice salt should still be provided since salt requirements may increase on a wet diet.

Preference should always be given to adding supplementary minerals and vitamins directly to the diet, either in the grain mix or in the feed bunk. Cattle cannot be relied on to eat the required amount of free choice mineral; over or under consumption is common when this method is used. Free-choice minerals are best considered a supplementary safeguard rather than a vital part of the diet.

In some cases free-choice feeding is the only practical way of providing supplementary minerals. In this situation, choose a mineral that is as complete as possible. Virtually all minerals will contain both calcium and phosphorus in various amounts. One that contains magnesium and selenium should be considered a plus. High vitamin levels are also an asset if a regular vitamin injection program is not being followed. In most situations a mineral mix which contains salt is also desirable.

If minerals are being topdressed in the feedbunk, between 50 and 100 grams per head per day is a reasonable amount. The exact amount required will vary depending on the other feeds in the diet and the mineral supplement being used.

Remember that trace-mineralized (TM) salt is not the equivalent of a commercial mineral. As the name implies, TM salt contains trace minerals (copper zinc, etc.), but it does not contain the macro-minerals calcium, phosphorus, and magnesium and cannot be considered a complete mineral supplement.

Conclusions

The factors that need consideration when contemplating the use of potatoes in a ration are similar to those for any wet byproduct. Purchase cost, handling cost and consistent supply are all major factors.

Some careful thought needs to be put into the total cost of putting potatoes in the feedbunk. Depending on location and the storage and handling systems involved, costs to put this feed in front of the cattle may be considerable. The price paid for the potatoes should allow for the additional expenses expected in hauling, storing and feeding.

Since potatoes are low in protein and high in energy, you should look at how potatoes compliment the other feeds in the ration. If all of the farm feeds available are low in protein then potatoes may not be the ideal choice for the ration.

Potatoes are a high energy feed that must compete with more traditional feed grains. When potatoes are fed at moderate levels, animal performance should be similar to cattle fed equivalent amounts of dry grains. The cost of potatoes and the labour involved in handling them will be major factors in determining their feasibility in a ration.



TABLE 1 TYPICAL NUTRIENT LEVELS IN CULL POTATOES

Nutrient Nutrient Level, %   
 
 As Fed   Dry Basis   
Dry Matter  20
 100
 
Protein 1.8
 9
 
Ruminant TDN  17
 85
 
Fibre (ADF)  .06
 3
 
Calcium .008
 .04
 
Phosphorus .04
 .2
 
Magnesium .028
 .14
 


TABLE 2 SUGGESTED MAXIMUM LEVELS FOR POTATO FEEDING

Livestock Category  Animal Weight  Daily Amount
   Kg/100 kg Body Weight 
 
 Under 300 kg
Over 300 kg  2
3
 
Dairy & Beef Cows   3
 
Growing-Finishing Beef Cattle  Under 300 kg
300-400 kg
Over 400 kg  2-3
4-5
5-7
 


TABLE 3 SUGGESTED POTATO-GRAIN SUBSTITUTE LEVELS

Potatoes Used to Replace  For each kg of grain mix removed substitute: 
12% protein grain mix    3.5 kg potatoes, .2 kg protein supplement*   
14% protein grain mix    3.4 kg potatoes, .25 kg protein supplement   
16% protein grain mix    3.3 kg potatoes, .35 kg protein supplement 
18% protein grain mix    3.2 kg potatoes, .40 kg protein supplement 
*Based on a 32% protein supplement 

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Shetland sheep, Castlemilk Moorits sheep, Hebridean sheep, Scots Grey Bantams, Scots Dumpy Bantams. Shetland Ducks.

woollyval

  • Joined Feb 2008
  • Near Bodmin, Cornwall
    • Val Grainger
Re: Can you feed potatoes to sheep?
« Reply #3 on: January 15, 2012, 08:00:36 pm »
But that is for cattle!! Cows can be fed quite a lot of potatoes and i know several farmers who have fed lots of them! However I have grave reservations regarding feeding lots of them to sheep, but a few is ok. They can be good when other feed is short. .....clean them first!
www.berry land cottage.co.uk
www.valgrainger.co.uk

Overall winner of the Devon Environmental Business Awards 2009

PetiteGalette

  • Joined Dec 2011
Re: Can you feed potatoes to sheep?
« Reply #4 on: January 15, 2012, 08:29:23 pm »
Hi Bigchicken,
I have read up about it on the internet, but wasn't a lot wiser................................
It will only be a handful of chopped up spuds each in a bucket so that they will come over to me so that I can check them out every other day......................................
A pessimist sees only the dark side of the clouds, and mopes; a philosopher sees both sides, and shrugs; an optimist doesn't see the clouds at all - he's walking on them.  ~Leonard Louis Levinson

bigchicken

  • Joined Nov 2008
  • Fife Scotland
Re: Can you feed potatoes to sheep?
« Reply #5 on: January 15, 2012, 08:33:54 pm »
The way I read it was as long as potatoes do not contribute more than 30% of total feed and they have fibre it is OK.
Shetland sheep, Castlemilk Moorits sheep, Hebridean sheep, Scots Grey Bantams, Scots Dumpy Bantams. Shetland Ducks.

Brucklay

  • Joined Apr 2010
  • Perthshire
    • Brucklay Pygmy Goats
    • Facebook
Re: Can you feed potatoes to sheep?
« Reply #6 on: January 15, 2012, 09:29:38 pm »
Mine are hay adlib through the winter with a wee bit off hard feed morning and night just to keep happy and bucket trained - now and again I like to supliment with something different at the moment a few chopped up turnip if I can get my hands on them and anything to add to the list for variety is to me a good thing - I'll test a tattie tomorrow
Pygmy Goats, Shetland Sheep, Zip & Indie the Border Collies, BeeBee the cat and a wreak of a building to renovate!!

Sylvia

  • Joined Aug 2009
Re: Can you feed potatoes to sheep?
« Reply #7 on: January 16, 2012, 08:42:18 am »
I've never met an animal yet who doesn't enjoy a boiled spud, but in moderation. Even horses will like them. I give my little ewes a couple when I have them but more than spuds, they love beetroot. I do voluntary work on their trial grounds for a seed company and am given the odd crate of beets for the sheep.(as well as seeds and plants :D)

Tilly

  • Joined Jan 2011
  • "Possibilities and miracles mean the same thing"
Re: Can you feed potatoes to sheep?
« Reply #8 on: January 16, 2012, 11:46:29 am »

..... just a quick note to say I have worked on a farm where stock feed potatoes were both fed to sheep and cattle for winter foodstuff.

The cattle had to be rationed as too many they were allowed-- gave then the "runs" if over done.
-- but the ewes had a big adlib feeder which I used to keep topped up with the  bucket loads from tractor.

We found the spuds an excellent feed and the sheep did very well on them   -they had ad lib hay + protein / mineral powder available too.

Sorry not a very scientific reply but thought you might find interesting.

Tilly :wave:

Dougal

  • Joined Jul 2011
  • Port O' Menteith, Stirlingshire
Re: Can you feed potatoes to sheep?
« Reply #9 on: January 16, 2012, 04:31:43 pm »
ach the odd spud as a treat won't harm them. If there is too much potatoe in the diet it can affect how the sheep takes up protein but really you are looking to give them a treat then raw will be fine. Cooking the potatoe denatures the tryptanase enzyme that causes this problem so cooked potatoes can be treated as a concentrate feed foor them.
It's always worse for someone else, so get your moaning done before they start using up all the available symathy!

PetiteGalette

  • Joined Dec 2011
Re: Can you feed potatoes to sheep?
« Reply #10 on: January 17, 2012, 01:26:13 pm »
Thanks everyone! I'll give them a 'taster' tomorrow and see how they like them!
A pessimist sees only the dark side of the clouds, and mopes; a philosopher sees both sides, and shrugs; an optimist doesn't see the clouds at all - he's walking on them.  ~Leonard Louis Levinson

 

Sheep feed

Started by bigchicken (8.01)

Replies: 2
Views: 1941
Last post January 15, 2011, 06:53:26 pm
by waterhouse
sheep feed

Started by Andrea (8.01)

Replies: 7
Views: 2508
Last post October 22, 2012, 06:51:00 am
by jaykay
sheep feed

Started by rochvima (8.01)

Replies: 4
Views: 2006
Last post July 31, 2014, 05:56:53 pm
by SallyintNorth
Hay feed for sheep

Started by Ian.mccarthy@hotmail.co.u (8.01)

Replies: 6
Views: 1552
Last post February 13, 2018, 02:30:24 pm
by Marches Farmer
Winter Feed for sheep

Started by peterbaa (7.92)

Replies: 3
Views: 3323
Last post June 25, 2010, 10:58:52 pm
by peterbaa

Forum sponsors

FibreHut Energy Helpline Thomson & Morgan Time for Paws Scottish Smallholder & Grower Festival Ark Farm Livestock Movement Service

© The Accidental Smallholder Ltd 2003-2022. All rights reserved.

Design by Furness Internet

Site developed by Champion IS