BEEF - Preparing Your Cattle for Winter
25 Jan 2017
Winter is just round the corner and with this means a change to your cattle’s diet as they are brought inside.
Improving farm efficiency by adding value to home produced cereals for the use in both growing and finishing rations should be considered as part of your feeding regime for the winter ahead.
This October issue of the Harbro Beef Update comes at a time when the monetary value of cereals continues on
slight but significant rise, furthermore a weaker pound persists in the aftermath of a significant global event, namely Brexit, which means anything imported or valued based on a foreign commodity has naturally inflated – this is felt mostly in protein markets namely soya, on which most of the other feed protein sources are valued.
However these changes have been felt positively in the beef sector with the recent rise this summer for finished cattle, undoubtedly adding value to the whole beef industry.
Value i s o f ten t hought o f a s p rice i n monetary terms, but there are important elements related to the definition of value that are often forgotten. This forms a common theme of this beef update and much of the discussion surrounds adding value in terms of return on investment considering the relative usefulness, worth or merit of particular methods products and advice. Adding value to home grown cereals is seen in four different situations. Maxammon grain treatment is chosen for the same reasons across the locations; to increase the crude protein of grain, producing a 14-16% CP sample which has the added rumen friendly benefit of buffering rumen acidity with its resultant alkaline pH. The application of the home produced feed product is however slightly different across the farms, from calf creeps to finishing rations. It is between those two points in the beef production cycle that value can be added to cattle. Acknowledging the recent changes to abattoir grading; carcass weight limitations around 400-420kg generally means we have to accept less weight from steers and bulls. This is all the more reason to strive for heavier or value added heifers to make up the shortfall in gross output, with the average heifer between 320-330kg, there is an oppor tunity being missed. This coupled with a tighter specification on the level of finish is driving a change in the way both steers, heifers and native cattle are taken to finish. Influencing the end result starts long before the finishing period, as early as the creep feeder.
Again value comes into it; creep feed may cost a little more but it is by far the best investment to be made in cattle feed. Calves are able to convert it to weight at superior efficiency (4:1) and by offering higher protein (lower starch) creeps, this weight should comprise lean and frame. This in turn adds value to the calf for sale as a store or for retaining on farm for finishing or future breeding. In the midst of all this, efficiency need not be lost. Improving weight for age is the simplest measure of this – in short it means pushing male cattle harder and, by manipulation of diets, allowing heifers to reach their potential.
There are various options for ensuring cattle have the correct protein balance, Champion Rumitech 35 has been used with considerable ease and success at varying rates across all classes of stock, conveniently supplying minerals, Rumitech and Yea-Sacc.
The combination of Rumitech and Yea-Sacc enables ruminants to better utilise each kilo of feed offered, which, from a small investment, by inclusion on a compound blend or mineral, adds a great deal more value to the overall diet and, by increasing killing out percentage by 0.5%, Rumitech adds value to the finished animal too.
Implementing a rumen friendly approach is particularly appropriate at this time of year as cattle are introduced to feed. In combination or singularly; the rumen buffer Alkacid, Maxammon alkaline grain, good
processing and ration presentation are reducing the loss of time, loss of weight and loss of money caused by rumen upset during transition periods. This is benefiting a growing number of beef units, again adding value byovercoming a common farm problem, a key objective of Harbro.