Feeding Kiwi Fruit

A readily accessible and often cheap supplement for some during the autumn, this page breaks down some key facts about kiwi fruit, how much to feed and how to reduce associated risks 

Key Facts

15-22% DM

SO for every tonne of feed you are buying 150-220kg DM and a LOT of water 

Excellent energy source

Lots of water soluble carbohydrates

Low Fibre

Risk of acidosis if the rumen is not looked after 

5% CP

SO very low. Need to balance with good quality pasture or high protein feeds otherwise it will be protein limiting milk production.

How much to feed?

Like all novel foods intakes should be started low and increased gradually over a 7 -10 day period. Ideally feed when cows are already fairly full of other high fibre feeds and keep it continuous - no stopping and starting. Maximum intakes should probably be around 10kg/cow wet weight depending on the composition of the rest of the diet. 

Health Risks

1. Acidosis

This is the number one health risk when feeding kiwi fruit due to the high volume of sugars they contain. While the DM% does not change as the fruit ripens, the sugar content does, so a batch is always changing and becoming higher risk over time. If you are feeding a balanced diet on paper then this becomes more of an individual cow risk as some cows will hoover up more than their fair share of fruit if given the chance and put themselves at high risk of acidosis. 

2. Choke

Generally an issue when kiwifruit is fed whole (although some whole fruit often escapes the mixer wagon) and when it is hard (unripe) as it can get lodged in the back of the throat or down the oesophagus. If the obstruction is complete this becomes an emergency as it can cause rapid ruminal bloating and then death. 

Managing the risks

Increase fibre

As the fruit ripens increase the amount of fibre available by adding in some hay, straw or baleage to to the ration 

Slow them down

Ideally Kiwi fruit can be put in a mixer wagon and chopped up which reduces many of the risks. For those of you without that luxury any way you can spread out the food to make the cows work harder for it will help. If you feed silage through a side feed wagon try chucking in there to mix it up a bit or spread it out in the paddock as much as possible, 


Squash it up

Again a mixer wagon here is ideal but otherwise driving over the fruit with a tractor should at least reduce the number of whole ones available to get stuck down throats

Reduce the amount

If in doubt and you can't increase the amount of fibre and the fruit has ripened considerably consider dropping back the amount fed

Even it up

Give all cows access to the fruit at the same time or feed out and then let cows in the paddock to stop those cows that learn to follow the trailer