With changes to the OTM (over thirty months) scheme anticipated during August of this year and the introduction of some rather complicated issues with the Single Farm Payment, the future direction for UK beef production is, like other aspects of our industry, uncertain to say the least. As a consequence, the efficient rearing and finishing of the beef herd, irrespective of your system, will once again come under the economic microscope.
Some simple suggestions and "rules of thumb" will help in getting the best out of your system.

You should be considering:

  • Increase feed conversion efficiency
  • Reduce digestive disorders - particularly on intensive systems.
  • Increase daily live weight gain.
  • Reduce days to slaughter

Cattle on intensive cereal beef finishing will benefit from "ad lib" access to clean straw, which will supply some fibrous structure to the diet. This should help limit any health problems by increasing saliva production and removing dead cells from the stomach wall, so acids are absorbed more quickly.

The addition of "Yea-sacc" yeast supplement will improve feed utilisation by reducing ruminal and intestinal gasses and increase daily live weight gain - trials show 8-9% increase! Please ring the office for further information.

If adding a protein nut or pellet to your ration, ensure that it is made of quality protein sources. If a large percentage of the protein is urea and formulated to least cost, are you getting value for money? The GP Feeds "Byley Grain Balancer 38" nut, a 38% protein nut with only 1.25% urea, contains Brazilian Soya, Rapemeal, Sunflower and is fully mineralised. This product is excellent value for money and also available as a blend.

Suckler cows at grass will be highly susceptible to grass staggers as young, lush grass starts to grow, but cold, wet weather is still all too common. Look to feed a high magnesium mineral (up to 20%) to reduce the risk

After last year's difficult silage-making season, many silages have mineral imbalances, especially for the last few months of pregnancy. This can result in difficult calvings, weak calves, retained cleansings retained placenta and a reduced level of fertility in the herd. To counteract dietary imbalances it is essential that spring calving suckler cows are not only in the right body condition at calving (condition score 3.0) but are also fed a good quality pre-calving mineral. Mineral supplementation can be given in several ways - "Excel Pre-Calver Rolls", free access minerals, in-feed minerals or bucket licks. Vitalick Pre Calver Buckets.

With home mixed rations that comprise high levels of maize gluten and/or maize distillers, it is imperative that a quality mineral and vitamin supplement, that is high in calcium, should be added to these rations. Check inclusion levels and feeding rates/allowances of your minerals.

A custom beef blend formulated to your requirements and to suit your system is an excellent alternative to "off the shelf" products as an aid to keeping costs under control. These can be mineralised and can have a whole range of "add-ons" like Yea-sacc added at source for increased efficiency.

Feeding quality, well balanced diets and supplements will go along way to ensuring you get as much margin as possible come market day.