For the Future of Farming

Get the most out of your beef cattle

Focus on Beef

Some beef producers may be tempted to increase their reliance on homegrown silage in an attempt to reduce feed costs and maximise profitability. However, with significant variations in 2016 forage quality, this short term financial gain could have a negative impact on long term animal performance.

A more effective way of increasing profitability is to improve the feed efficiency of your cattle, enhance rumen performance and use concentrates in a more targeted manner; offsetting high input costs with better levels of growth and performance.

Beef outlook

Overall supplies of beef and veal have been revised up slightly from previous forecasts. Whilst the weak pound has helped to bolster the export trade, a slight reduction in production means a more tightly supplied market is predicted for 2017. Forecasted supplies on the domestic market next year have been revised down from previous estimates, largely influenced (in general) by lower carcass weights and fewer cattle slaughterings.

% change
% change
UK prime cattle slaughter ‘000 head 164.9 +5.9 +2.4
UK adult cattle slaughter ‘000 60.0 +14.9 +6.9
UK beef and veal production ‘000 (carcass weight) 76.5 +6.6 +1.9
UK fresh/frozen beef imports – Aug ‘000 tonnes (product weight) 21.1 +7.1 -9.2
UK fresh/frozen beef exports – Aug ‘000 tonnes (product weight) 8.6 -0.2 +11.8

Be aware of forage variability

Energy is a key component to ensure good growth rates amongst finishing cattle. Unfortunately 2016 forage quality suffered due to a cold spring and poor, later harvest, resulting in large quantities of low energy, high fibre grass silage (both clamp and big bale) available on the market.

As such, there are big differences in the quality of the top and bottom 25% of forages. Analysing and understanding the quality of your forage will allow more targeted use of concentrates to help maintain good cattle growth rates.

  2015 2016
  Average Bottom 25% Top 25% Average Bottom
Top 25%
DM (%) 32.2 25.7 37.5 32.3 25.9 37.6
11.8 10.6 11.8 10.7 10.1 11.3

(% DM)

13.4 11.1 15.4 13.6 11.5 15.2
NDF (%DM) 47.5 42.7 51.8 51.6 46.5 56.2

Feed efficiency

Beef producers should focus on improving feed efficiency to offset high input costs and increase profitability; ensuring that more meat is produced per kilo of feed fed.

Greater levels of feed efficiency reduce costs of production by improving daily liveweight gains and reducing overall finishing times (the current industry average is 307 days to slaughter). Selecting the correct feed for your system is very important as this will help maximise animal performance. Supplying correct nutrients at specific stages will ensure that cattle achieve target weights without becoming too fat.

Rumen Development

Levucell Titan

Live yeast supplementation can be used to develop better rumen performance in cattle and increase feed conversion efficiency; stabilising rumen pH to ensure the maximum uptake of nutrients from feed.

Levucell TITAN helps to regulate rumen pH by mopping up lactic acid and scavenging oxygen; preserving anaerobic conditions and maintaining optimum rumen pH levels of 6.2. This is particularly useful in finishing cattle, when the rumen can be challenged by high feed intakes and high starch diets, which, if left unchecked, can lead to acidosis.