Deer & beef cattle
Deer and beef cattle which are to be ad lib fed on fodder beet are less susceptible to rumen acidosis once transitioned because they graze over a 24 hour period, rather than eating an allocation of fodder beet in 4-5 hours. However, deer and beef cattle do require a 14-21 day transition phase onto fodder beet.
Sheep do not require the full 14-21 day transition phase. They can be satisfactorily transitioned by giving them access to fodder beet for a few hours each day for 3-4 days and then locked on the crop. Ensure all sheep are fully vaccinated for clostridial diseases (e.g. 5 in 1) before grazing fodder beet.
For animals new to fodder beet, particularly younger stock, transitioning may require the bulbs to be chopped or smashed before the stock will try them. This can be done with a Cambridge roller.
Fodder beet is low in fibre (NDF) and crude protein (CP), and high in water soluble carbohydrate (WSC) as shown in the table below. This means there can be a greater requirement for additional fibre and protein in the animals’ diet than when feeding a brassica crop, depending on stock type, age and weight gain expectations.
Normally it is best to feed good quality pasture silage as a supplement to stock on fodder beet, as a source of both fibre and CP, rather than supplements with a low CP content (straw, cereal silage), particularly for young growing animals.