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Bay of Plenty Monitor Farms

Kiwifruit for your cows

The time of year is approaching where there is a surplus of kiwifruit that can be used as a stockfeed. They are a good quality feed, with a high energy content but relatively low protein. With a typical feed analysis of 15-20% DM, 12 MJ ME/kg DM, it’s close to good quality autumn pasture, but with a much lower crude protein level of 5%.

A transition period is required to minimise disruption to production and cow health. Gradually increase kiwifruit intake over 2-3 weeks. It’s more commonly used as a dry cow feed, but can also be used to extend the lactation. For dry cows, start at about 5kg of fruit/cow/day (1kgDM) and build up to maximum of half of the daily requirement (3kg DM, or 15kg fruit/cow/day). Milking cows can be fed up to 30% of their daily ration as kiwifruit (5-6kg DM, or 25-30kgfruit/cow/day). Ensure that the cows are being well fed and have a high grass intake (at least 10-12kg dry matter).

Kiwifruit is very high in soluble sugars, if individual intakes are higher than recommended, there is a risk of acidosis. Keep an eye on the ripeness of the fruit- particularly if it’s coming from different sources. To minimise the risk of cows overeating:

  • Know the approximate amount of kiwifruit which has been fed out (1 tonne = 1.25m³).
  • Once you’ve started feeding kiwifruit, keep going and don’t miss days.
  • Feed kiwifruit with, or after, other daily rations to reduce the chance of hungry cows gorging themselves.
  • Spread kiwifruit out well as this also reduces gorging.
  • If you plan on adding new cows to the mob (as in progressively adding to a dry cow mob), start the transition process again.
  • Increased attention is needed when feeding kiwifruit in the paddock as it is very difficult to control individual feeding levels.

Fruit can be stockpiled in larger amounts, but always ensure the oldest fruit is used first, as this will be the highest risk. Preferably, use each consignment within 4-5 days of it arriving on farm.

Ross Bishop
Senior Consulting Officer
Phone: 027 5631785
Email: ross.bishop@dairynz.co.nz
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