July 24, 2018 16:02:17
As the drought wears on, many producers are turning to alternate sources of feed for their stock.
Just last week a Victorian farmer turned to watermelon as a supplement.
Last night, a farmer in northern NSW took delivery of a load of orange peel.
For humans, orange zest is a tasty addition to some dishes, and Gunnedah farmer Edward Hoddle believes his cows will also appreciate the sweet addition to a dry diet of cotton seed and hay.
“In the drought you have to be pragmatic and we are looking at all options. This peel is manna from heaven arriving in the back of a truck,” he said.
The family owns a citrus farm but runs around 700 head of cattle as well.
Currently they are stocking just cows and calves as the drought takes hold, but even fodder crops have failed.
Although the peel comes from the very oranges they sent away to juice companies, it had never occurred to them before to use the by-product as stock feed.
“It’s not something we usually have access to because once the fruit is sold at the gate we don’t see the orange again,” Mr Hoddle said.
Juice company donates by-product
For Eastcoast Juices, based on the NSW central coast, this is not a new practice but their first trip to inland NSW.
“We’ve been doing this since we started over 20 years ago, but obviously as the drought has gotten worse we are able to extend the opportunity to other farmers,” said company spokesman Sam Lentini.
He said the company processed 40 tonnes of oranges in the morning and readied their trucks.
“They sent us a load this morning and this is their peel coming back,” he said.
Welcome nutrients for drought ravaged stock
While the stock will have to get used the new diet, the Department of Primary Industries welcomes the practice as a way of keeping stock alive.
“Even thought we might think of orange peel as something strange to eat, it’s actually fairly nutritious for stock,” said Todd Andrews, the beef development officer with the NSW DPI.
“It has excellent energy and quite a bit of sugar in it.”
Mr Andrews said cattle may take some time to adjust but they will be the better for it.
He added there should be little chance of contamination from chemical residue.
“Most people, feeding right now, are feeding cows and calves which are not destined for the food chain. So there is a fairly low risk of residue from feeding these types of feeds,” he said.
July 24, 2018 15:33:14