Dakota Farmer

Spuds might be a good alternative this year. Prices are down and there is an increase in culls.

October 11, 2012

1 Min Read

Potatoes might be a good alternative for cattle feed this year.

Acres were up, prices are down and the drought increased cull rates in fresh potatoes due to malformation and disease.

As livestock feed, potato is similar to barley on a dry matter basis, says Carl Dahlen, North Dakota State University Extension Service beef cattle specialist.

To ensile the potatoes successfully at a dry-matter content of about 60 to 65 percent, feeders will need to chop or slice the potatoes and add some type of dry feed (straw, hay, etc.) to them.

Potatoes can be freeze-dried by spreading them out in the winter and then fed the following spring/summer.

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Cattle may choke on whole potatoes, especially if they are frozen, so they should be chopped before they are fed, 

Cattle should be adapted to rations containing potatoes slowly to avoid digestive upsets.

Potatoes are 70-80% water. Therefore, the cost of transporting them on a dry-matter basis is high.

Sprouted or sunburned potatoes can contain compounds (glycoalkaloids) that are poisonous to cattle. Sprouts, which are most likely a problem in the spring, should be removed.

For information on possible sources of feed potatoes, contact Ted Kreis, marketing and communications director for the Northern Plains Potato Growers Association, at (218) 773-3633.

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