Invest to increase liveweight gain

Improving daily liveweight gain in store cattle has never been more important, believes Alister Davies, UK Beef & Sheep Commercial Manager at ForFarmers. By investing in nutrition and speeding up the finishing process producers can avoid hidden costs of production, he advises.

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“With the prices of store cattle going through the roof lately it is vital that they are fed properly because frankly, no one can afford to keep them on the farm longer than necessary.”

Traditionally beef producers would buy in store cattle at around 12 months of age and finish them over the following 12 months. “But with stores costing anything up to £2000 head now that is a huge amount of money tied up for a year.”

This was particularly important if the cattle are purchased with borrowed money, he warned. “We must not forget the ‘hidden’ cost of borrowed money. For example the cost of interest paid on those sums could raise your costs of production by as much as £120 per head.”

Reducing days to slaughter and the amount of time those animals are on the farm will therefore pay dividends, he continued. “I strongly encourage producers to consider their feeding regime for this year and not just to continue with what they have always done.”

He advises farmers to increase their goals for daily liveweight gain. “Historically the goal was 1kg, but I think many should be aiming for 1.5 or 1.7kg, and for some units, 2kg per day is not an unreasonable goal.

“Match your nutrition to the genetic potential of your animals and you will speed things up.”

The first step is to analyse all homegrown feed and forages, so their nutritional content is well understood. “Then your account manager can use our ruminant rationing package Optifeed Beef, to match ration to the farm’s forages and exploit feed efficiencies of younger animals to maximise liveweight gain.

“Our experts can therefore tailor a ration that will meet the animals’ exact requirements rather than providing an off the shelf solution.” The programme will also calculate the cost per kg of liveweight gain.

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Alister also advises producers to consider the benefits of including Levucell in the diet. A live yeast product, Levucell improves rumen efficiency and eases the transition to finishing diets. “In short, it helps the animal get the best out of its feed.”

This is due to yeast reducing the oxygen content of the rumen, which helps stimulate the growth of rumen organisms that digest fibre and starch improving its efficiency.

“When transitioning to a finisher diet Levucell helps reduce any growth checks by stabilising rumen pH and helps to maintain its anaerobic conditions,” he continues. “Maintaining an optimum pH means feed is digested effectively and the animal gets the most out of it.”

Levucell can be included in many types of feed from pellets, blends, pre-mixes and home-mixes or total mixed rations. ForFarmers compound products which can include Levucell include: Prime Rearer 16 + Levucell, Prime Grade + Levucell, and Prime Mix 34 + Levucell.

“We are always happy to discuss options with our customers and will do all we can to support them to achieve the best liveweight gains possible.”

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