As winter approaches, grasses quickly mature. Protein level also tends to drop dramatically and become bound in the structure. The resulting dry standing pasture contains large amounts of structural fibre, which still has the potential to supply productive energy to ruminants if liberated by rumen microbial digestion.
Growing dairy heifers and beef weaners, pregnant cows and sheep obtain their energy from the fermentative end-products of millions of bacteria that live in the rumen digesting forages. Rumen bacteria thrive on a constant supply of protein and certain minerals (such as sulphur and phosphorus) for maximum growth and digestive activity.
Unfortunately, when frost hits, pastures become deficient in these nutrients and microbial digestion slows down. Hence, the animal struggles to eat sufficient forage to meet its daily energy and protein requirements.
The early winter supplementation of protein, from the combination of slow rumen degradable protein meals and urea and of minerals such as phosphorus and sulphur, will help reverse the deficiency of these nutrients in the rumen.
The microbes can now increase in number and digest more of the pasture in 24 hours. As a result cattle and sheep will increase feed intake and improve live weight gains, reproduction, lactation and/or wool growth.