Dry conditions, short supplies of forage, expensive supplements, and tight profit margins have many sheep producers looking for alternate feeds.
“Canola or grain screenings, potato waste, grass seed cleanings, or beet pulp are just a few of the byproducts that can be used to feed sheep,” said Susan Hosford, a provincial sheep industry specialist. “Byproduct feeds become available when a traditional feed ingredient is processed into another product, such as the alfalfa fines from an alfalfa cubing plant. Byproducts such as brewer’s grain or bakery waste can sometimes be sourced from local food or beverage manufacturing. Byproduct screenings are produced when grains, legumes, or forage seeds are cleaned.”
But know the availability, supply, and price of a byproduct before incorporating it into a flock feeding program.
“Dry conditions increase competition for feed which makes local availability and price major considerations. Many byproducts are available only through contracts and are delivered at times specified by the seller. Some are only available at certain times of the year.”
Producers also need to know how many days of feed they need, how they will store it, and feed quality.
“Before purchasing or feeding any byproduct, try to have feeds sampled and tested to determine the nutrient content,” said Hosford. “This is critically important for every new batch whether the byproduct is used regularly or is a new feed ingredient. The nutrient and moisture content of byproduct feeds vary dramatically with different loads depending on the supplier, the product itself, processing methods, harvesting methods, the season, the weather and, of course, how it was stored.”
Ration balancer software sheepbytes.ca has a feed library that includes some byproduct feeds.