From mid-June to late October, a substantial number of beef cattle will be slaughtered off grass. Slaughtering cattle at this time of year has a number of advantages including lower cost of production with less meal input; cheaper weight gain off grass; and heavier carcasses. Those killed in early summer generally benefit from a price rise also.
Pushing heavy cattle to finish off grass is economically attractive against the costs associated with winter housed feeding. Feeding meal on farms where grass supply is tight will benefit both on reducing grass demand and it is also said that
“Carcass growth response to concentrate supplementation at pasture is higher where grass supply is low and where grass quality is poorer”.
Now is the time to assess your stock and decide which route to go with your heavier store cattle. Despite a lush leafy appearance of after grass, quality this time of the year is poorer compared to spring/summer grass. Dry matter content (typically 12-16%) and energy content are also reducing as the year progresses. Therefore, supplement to ensure a minimum of 1kg of liveweight gain per day is required to fill the void.
Response to feeding store cattle 4 kg of meal at grass:
- Daily gain: +0.2-0.3 kg/day
- Kill out: +0.5-1.5%
- Carcass: +35-40 kg
- Confirmation: +0.2-0.8 unit increase
- Fat: 1.0-1.5 unit increase
Guidelines from feeding trials at Teagasc Grange indicate that there is an economic response to feeding 0.5 kg concentrates per 100kg liveweight (3kg to a 600kg steer) when grass is plentiful and 1kg concentrates per 100 kg liveweight (6kg to a 600kg steer) when grass is scarce. Autumn grass is very high in crude protein in the range 18-22%, so rations for finishing on grass should be of high energy ingredients e.g. cereals and pulps. Straight cereals such as rolled barley or mixes of barley/ wheat and maize by products are also suitable.
Drummonds have a broad range of top-quality coarse rations and cubes available from each of its branches. Please do not hesitate to contact your local advisor or branch.