BEEF - Rumitech aiding performance with improved grading and killing out percentages

25 Aug 2017

Purchasing most of their finishing cattle from the Orkney Isles in the north of Scotland, the Wilson family aim to finish the cattle on an intensive 150-200 day finishing period, using a finishing ration which includes Harbro’s Rumitech.

Trading as A T Wilson and Co, Michael, along with wife Carol and parents Thomson and Moira, put on average 36 cattle per week direct to Woodhead Brothers in Turriff, finishing around 2,000 annually. Seed potatoes along with a small pedigree herd of Limousin cattle make up the enterprise at Brownhill of Annochie, Auchnagatt, near Ellon - stretching over 1200 acres with an additional 300 acres contracted.

With the majority of cattle continental, the team at Brownhill of Annochie purchase around 200 native Shorthorn crosses each year, which they receive a premium of 25p/kg at Woodheads for.

Cattle are bought between 12-15 months of age, with 95% being steers and 5% heifers. Any lighter cattle that are bought in will be put to grass for a short period before joining the remainder of the finishers inside.

The finisher ration is made up of 12% wheat, 12% pot ale, 5% malt nuts, 5% distiller’s dark grains, 66% barley and the Grampian Beef Max mineral which includes Rumitech + Yea-Sacc.

Innovation and research is key for the business, with the farm being one of the first to pioneer Rumitech in the UK. Five years down the line and with a background of research and findings, Rumitech is still used in the finishing ration.

‘When David MacKenzie from Harbro approached us five years ago to see if we would be part of the small group of farmers to trial the product, we were more than happy to get involved.

‘We feel it is important to try and gain a slight edge to help maximise profit and efficiency for our business. We saw the trial as a great opportunity to keep involved with innovation within the industry and to achieve the aims we set out,’ says Michael.

‘Most cattle are purchased from the Orkney isles, so are coming to us from the age of 12 months up to 24. We don’t see this as an issue as cattle from the islands tend not to be pushed as much compared to the younger cattle that are bought. They seem to have bigger frames and I find them easy to finish.

‘We are hitting an average liveweight of 730-760kg and, deadweight of around
420kg. ‘Killing out percentage varies from 52-60% for one load of 36 cattle - all dependant on size, confirmation, time on feed and the breed,’ Michael continues.

Average daily liveweight gain is also dependant on the breed and size of cattle.

Smaller cattle which are put out to grazing for a short period are averaging 1kg/day.

Inside finishers vary between 1.4kg/day for the better killing out cattle to 1.7kg/day for cattle which are killing out at a lower percentage.

Rumitech has helped the Wilson’s reduce the intake of dry matter fed to the cattle by 10%, saving heavily on feed costs.

‘As well as the significant difference in feed costs due to the dry matter intake reducing, cattle grade and kill out is a lot better since we introduced the additive. This again helping to boost our efficiency and margin’.
‘60% of the cattle being killed are hitting a fat class of 4L, 30% 4H and 10% 3. Carcass confirmation is also grading well with 70% U and 30% R.’

The finishing cattle are kept on straw bedded courts, with the feed ration being fed through an ad-lib hopper system.

Weighed regularly through the Wilson’s inside handling system, the family have also started to trial a new weigh system from Harbro, where a weigh crate is set up within the pen of cattle.

‘After having great success with the trail we did on Rumitech, we had no hesitations about getting involved with Harbro weigh system trial,’ says Michael.

‘We see the trial as a potential advantage to our system, to save handling cattle as often, reducing the stress on both them and our workers. We are currently trialling two of the crates and they seem to be working well with the system,’ he continues.

Working in conjunction with a number of partners including, Morrison’s, Scotbeef and SRUC, Harbro have developed the new technology to monitor the growth of cattle.

‘The integrated water trough and weigh crate system, designed with Ritchie Agriculture allows the cattle to enter and drink freely throughout each day. Each time an individual animal enters the crate a weight is recorded and linked to a computer system through the EID tag,’ comments Farran McLean, Harbro’s Research and Development Co-Ordinator - who has been involved with setting up the trials.

Although still in the trial process, Michael strongly believes that a weighing system, working alongside Rumitech, will continue to improve daily liveweight of the cattle due to reducing stress as they will not being handled as often. It will also allow them to monitor the weight of cattle more accurately before the cattle leave the farm, ensuring they are not being put away too heavy and over spec.


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