Sugarcane forage

Before including sugarcane fodder in your herd's diet, conduct a feed test and seek nutritional advice.

Nutrient content of sugarcane forage

The nutritive value of sugarcane varies greatly. 

The high sugar content of sugarcane forage can cause alcoholic fermentation during ensiling. This can vary in concentration.

Severely frosted cane should be avoided as stockfeed.

Factors affecting the performance of lactating cows, dry cows and replacement heifers fed sugarcane silage

Sugarcane silage has performed poorly in comparison to other forages fed to lactating cows.

Things to keep in mind:

  • Intake of sugarcane silage by lactating cows is less than other forages
  • Practical aspects to ensiling and storing sugarcane forage
  • Use an inoculant when ensiling chopped whole sugarcane
  • Roll silages well and seal well
  • Sugarcane silage is a cost effective silage to transport
  • Young cane can ensile poorly
  • Sugarcane can be stored successfully on-ground, in earthen bunkers or concentrate bunkers and fed in paddocks with minimal wastage.

Chemical residues in sugarcane forage — reducing the risk

To reduce your risk of chemical residues:

  • Obtain a fodder vendor declaration when purchasing sugarcane forage
  • Purchase crops which have a good record of chemical use and a low risk of spray drift from surrounding crops
  • Do not accept fodder containing soil.

Download the 'Sugarcane Forage' fact sheet.

Key messages

  • Consider how sugarcane nutrient content can affect cows' diet, cows' productivity and silage production
  • Be aware of the chemical residues that could be present in sugarcane forage - chemical application history