FARMERS WHO are using alternative feed sources as a strategy to manage dry seasonal conditions are urged to be aware of potential risks.
Agriculture Victoria animal industries development officer Richard Smith said with the reduction of available fodder sources due to dry conditions, producers may be turning to alternative feed sources.
“These bring their own risks, but there are some simple checks producers can make to avoid exposing livestock to feeds containing unacceptable and harmful levels of chemical residues, or feeds which could contain restricted animal material,” he said.
Mr Smith said there were three simple things for producers to think about when purchasing alternative stock feeds: never feed restricted animal material, be aware of chemical residues, and ask for and provide the required vendor declarations.
He said producers should make certain that purchased feed did not contain restricted animal material such as blood meal, meat meal, meat and bone meal, fish meal, poultry meal and feather meal, and compound feeds made from these products.
Agriculture Victoria said producers should undertake their own due-diligence about the suitability of the feed being purchased, as some chemicals registered for use in crops, fruit, and vegetables may not be registered for use in stockfeed or for livestock.
“Some chemical labels prohibit the grazing and/or feeding of stubbles, wastes, and products to livestock, while others might have no maximum residue limits (MRLs) set for animal products and so any detectable level of the chemical in the livestock product could breach food safety standards,” Mr Smith said.
“Other chemicals may not have prohibitions on use of treated crops as stock feed, however stock may still accumulate unacceptable residues as they can eat larger volumes of treated crops than humans.
“This risk can be addressed by appropriately rationing treated stock feed.”
As dry seasonal conditions continue, and traditional fodder or roughage sources are expended, producers may seek byproducts to feed stock.
Byproduct material — which is defined as any plant material not produced primarily for livestock consumption, such as citrus pulp, fruit pomace, grape marc and outer leaves — can have concentrated levels of agricultural chemicals which could increase livestock residue levels.
Mr Smith said producers needed to declare if they had fed byproducts on their National Vendor Declaration within 60 days of selling livestock, with details of what produce was fed.
To meet obligations under the Livestock Production Assurance program, and Primary Production and Processing Standards for Dairy Products, producers need to obtain a vendor declaration for all stock feed/fodder purchased.