BEEF - Maxammon Barley Produced Dramatic Results

25 Aug 2017

David Renton, and his father Ivor, run High Highlaws Farm near Morpeth.

The 500-acre farm has 200 breeding cows including 40 to 50 pedigree Limousins. The rest are Limousin crosses or British Blue cross.

High Highlaws is mainly pasture but about 40-50 acres of spring barley is grown in rotation for feed and as a break before reseeding with grass.

“Previously we crimped the barley for a high energy feed to finish the cattle,” says David.

“But we decided to try out barley treated with Maxammon because we had heard it was possible to achieve high growth rates.

“We crimped half the crop, rather than switch completely, and treated the other half with the Maxammon,” he adds.

Cattle were offered 1.5kg a day of the treated barley while at grazing in late summer to offset the decline in grass quality and to introduce them to a cereal based diet before housing.

At housing the cattle were put on to a finishing ration of 10kg Maxammon treated barley, 10kg silage plus straw for roughage and 1.5kg of pot ale.

The treated barley clearly produced dramatic results.

“It was at the first weighing we realised the incredible growth rates that had been achieved on the Maxammon treatment. Some of the heifers had liveweight gains of 2.2kg a day,” David says.

The minimum growth rate recorded was 1.7kg a day and the overall average was 1.9kg a day.

For the trial the Rentons only treated 60t of barley for the 160-170 head to try it out. “In about a month we ran out and switched on to the crimped ration instead,” David says.

The switch saw a huge drop-off in performance by the next weighing session.

“Growth rates had fallen dramatically from 1.9-2.2kg/day on the treated barley to 1.4-1.5kg a day on the crimped grain,” he says.

David reckons there was a combination of factors causing the difference in growth rates including animals naturally slowing down as they approached their final weight.

“But getting barley dry matter intakes of almost 10kg a day on the Maxammon treated crop must be the biggest factor. We have never had growth rates so consistently high,” he says.

He also reports that cattle health was good. Barley dry matter intakes at that level would normally be impossible and the cattle would suffer from acidosis and laminitis.

“With the improved rumen function, even feeding 10kg of barley we have not seen any lameness,” David reports.

The finishing quality of the cattle has also improved.

“We have seen a big increase in the number of Us and U+s. Out of the 110 sold we only had 10 grade as R’s,” he recalls.

Treating the grain with Maxammon proved to be easier than the crimping process.

“While crimping needs to be carried out as the barley comes off the field, this system can be done when it’s more convenient,” David explains.

Grain came off the field at 18% moisture which is acceptable because the Maxammon treatment needs moisture to work.

“We put the grain into a mixer wagon. If the moisture content drops you just add water. We put in 250kg of water when the crop was drier at 16%,” he says.

“It’s more expensive than crimping,” admits David “However the benefits have been huge and the protein costs are lower.”

We are now looking at reducing the level of silage fed and upping the Maxammon barley content.”

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