February 6, 2009

Use of palm kernel as feed option requires greater care

Palm kernel is a cost-effective feed alternative should the summer continue to be dry, but extra care must be taken to ensure that no problems will crop up, according to a New Zealand veterinarian.


There have been few problems so far, but farmers must be careful of how palm kernels are stored and if they receive a delivery of product that appears to contain large chunks of foreign material in it, said Daniel Sullivan with VETPlus of Taupo, New Zealand.


Sullivan said all palm kernel extract (PKE) should pass through mesh screens to filter out large particles and other objects.


Sullivan said PKE tends to b passed through magnetic systems to remove metal objects which may end up in the shipments, and that there have been issues where gravel in feed caused problems with digestion in cows.


The gravel issue may be due to improper screening, but PKE has been stored on gravel pads where the substrate has been picked up when loading feed onto farm, said Sullivan, noting that it is a problem with corn silage as well.


If gravel and other foreign material are present, it would not be digested by the animals and can cause irritation to the gut or cause obstruction if the volumes are significant. Foreign materials could also lead to fatal injuries in the gut.


Palm kernel is a byproduct of palm oil production, and New Zealand had imported 185,000 tonnes of palm kernel meal in the first quarter of 2008.

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