Beef producers advised to take advantage of robust carcass values (From Darlington and Stockton Times)
Send us your pictures, video, news and views by texting DST to 80360 or email us
Beef producers advised to take advantage of robust carcass values
2:55pm Friday 23rd August 2013 in Farming
BEEF producers have been advised to take advantage of lower cereal prices and robust carcass values by reducing finishing times this autumn.
Dylan Laws, Eblex livestock scientist, said the northern hemisphere harvest was generally progressing well, so competition between major producing countries is expected to result in lower prices for quality cereals, which is likely to filter through to the feed market.
For the first time in 13 months, the November 2013 contract for wheat closed below £160 per tonne on August 5. Mr Laws said low cereal prices were set to be coupled with tight supplies of finished cattle for the medium term.
“The decline in the breeding herd has reduced calf registrations this year and, even if herd rebuilding began now, a turnaround in high quality beef supply is unlikely before 2016,” he said.
“Strong consumer confidence in British beef and strengthening support for native bred cattle means the outlook for returns to beef producers is robust.”
With cereal prices easing and carcase values at their current level, supplementation at grass offered a costeffective option for finishers looking to get cattle away quickly this year.
Extra concentrate feed in the autumn would increase growth rates and help to reduce overall finishing costs.
Mr Laws said: “The objective of supplementation at grass is to avoid or reduce the time needed to house cattle for finishing. Having a clear idea of target slaughter weight and date will allow you to work out the growth rate needed and then whether supplements at grazing are required to achieve that.
“Even where autumn grass is in good supply, the achievable growth rate is likely to be less than 1kg a day, whereas the target could be up to 1.5kg a day, and feeding cereals or other concentrates at 0.5kg per 100kg liveweight should give a positive return. Therefore, a 500kg animal would require about 2.5 kg per head per day.
“However, where grass supply is moderate or poor, feeding at 1kg per 100kg liveweight may be required to achieve finishing targets. When more than 2.5kg of concentrates a day is fed, it is advisable to split this into two feeds to avoid digestive upsets. Suitable concentrate feeds should be high in energy, at least 30pc starch and sugar, with 12-14pc crude protein in the dry matter.”
For growing cattle and suckled calves, offering concentrates for six weeks prior to housing could help reduce any check at housing, when livestock switch to a winter ration. For both growing and finishing cattle, the optimum sward heights in autumn are 10-15cm in fields being grazed rotationally, or 7-8cm when set-stocking.
Mr Laws’ top tips for supplementing cattle at pasture were:
- when grass availability is low, providing a supply of structural fibre, such as un-chopped straw or hay, should maintain a healthy rumen
- once supplementation has begun, maintain it through to housing to avoid sudden diet changes that will check growth rates and reduce time to slaughter
- avoid poaching in wet weather by moving feeders regularly.
Comments are closed on this article.