Homebrew contains approximately 35-50% crude protein and has been used with good results as a supplement for cattle with access to plenty of low quality dry feed.
Table 1: Composition of homebrew lick for cattle (ingredients and parts by weight)
|Ingredients||High palatability (%)||Medium palatability (%)||Low palatability (%)|
|DCP* or Kynofos**||5||5||5|
|Vegetable protein meal***||5||5||5|
|Approximate total crude protein %||37||46||52|
* DCP is dicalcium phosphate
Kynofos is a proprietary phosphorus fertiliser
*** e.g. Cottonseed meal or copra meal
The mixture to use depends on how the cattle take to the lick. This varies with the class of country and the amount of salt in the drinking water. Generally it is best to start with an intermediate mixture and then adjust as necessary (towards the low palatability mix to reduce intake and towards the high palatability to increase intake) until the cattle are taking 0.3 to 0.5 kg per head per day.
It may be necessary to get cattle started on a simple, palatable mixture, such as 70 kg grain, 15kg molasses, 15 kg salt and 9 L water. Once they are taking this satisfactorily, the mixture can be gradually changed to include the other ingredients.
Never allow them to eat more than 0.5 kg per head per day as there is a risk of urea poisoning.
If cattle are taking too much of the low palatability mixture, the lick can be made harder by adding a few pounds of chaffed straw to the mixture. An alternative to straw could be 1% cement. If this is not satisfactory, up to 2% cement may be added.
The method of mixing is as follows:
- Dissolve the urea in 9L of hot water. Make sure the urea is completely dissolved before adding the other ingredients. Next add the molasses and mix thoroughly. The grain, vegetable protein meal, dicalcium phosphate (DCP) and salt are then added and mixed well.
- Mixing can be done easily in a concrete mixer or on a floor using a shovel in the same way as mixing concrete by hand. The finished product is comparatively moist and can be poured into a trough or a sturdy cardboard carton. Tamp it down (this can be done with the back of a shovel) to firm it in the trough and allow to harden for a few days before allowing stock access to it.
Homebrew (and all high urea licks) must be removed from stock or covered during wet or showery weather.
Cattle can be poisoned by eating too much of the lick when it is softened by water, or by drinking water containing dissolved urea that has accumulated in the trough.
Before making homebrew, consider other options that may do the same job more easily. One alternative to the homebrew is a straight vegetable protein meal supplement, for example, 500g / head / day of cottonseed meal (CSM) or copra meal.
To minimise bullying, it is best fed out twice or once a week. To optimise the distribution among animals, plenty of trough space must be provided. A vegetable protein meal has the advantage of providing better quality protein than urea, no money is wasted on salt for intake control and little time is spent on mixing.