Feeding Beef Animals this winter

Weanlings
Targets
Weanlings should gain 0.6 Kg per head per day over the winter housing period.  Typically weanlings do not gain anything close to this with an average daily gain closer to 0.3Kg and some animals do not gain any weight!  While gaining in excess of 0.6Kg per head per day is not desirable due to reduced performance at grass after housing, it is important to hit this target of 0.6Kg daily gain as compensatory growth at grass can only deliver so much.

 

Key point: Animals growing at <0.6Kg/head/day over the winter will not be able to make up this gap at grass.

Feeding recommendations
The amount of meals that are required will depend on the quality of silage on farm, emphasizing the importance of silage analysis (see pages 8-9).

Recommended rates of concentrate supplementation (Kg) for different types of weanlings depending on grass silage quality

Also consider the following when deciding on concentrate feeding levels:
• Higher levels may be worthwhile if weanlings will be sold at the end of the winter period.
• Front-loading the feeding (higher rates at the beginning of the winter and reduced rates towards the end) allow for quicker adaption to the diet and maximise compensatory growth rates at grass.

Concentrate type
Weanlings should be fed a high energy (minimum 0.94 UFL/Kg as fed) concentrate with a protein content of 14-16%, fully balanced with vitamins & minerals.  Tried and tested Beeflav is ideal or if feeding a coarse ration Beef Meal Mix fits the bill.


Finishing Cattle
Targets
All beef farmers should do their sums before filling sheds with stock for winter finishing.  The key factors to examine are:
1. Weight, genetic potential and purchase price of animals to be finished
2. Realistic target finishing weight and slaughter price (see graph below)
3. Variable costs (primary factor will be feed costs)

Targets for finishing Continental heifers, Friesian steers and Continental Steers are 0.85, 0.85 and 1.0 Kg live-weight gain per head per day respectively on silage and concentrates. 

If your silage is scarce or of poor quality or if you intend to finish bulls; serious consideration should be given to ad-lib concentrates as this option represents good value for money where silage is expensive.

Key point: Do your sums, strong performance and a high slaughter price are required to make a margin from finishing cattle


Feeding recommendations
The amount of meals that are required will depend on the quality of silage on farm, emphasizing the importance of silage analysis (see pages 8-9).

Recommended rates of concentrate supplementation (Kg) for different types of finishing animals depending on grass silage quality

Concentrate type
Finishing cattle should be fed a high energy concentrate (minimum 0.92 UFV/Kg as fed) concentrate with a protein content of 12-14%, fully balanced with vitamins & minerals.  Where farmers have only one bin or wish to feed the weanlings the same ration, Prime Elite Maize Munch or Beeflav are good options.

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For further help and advice contact your local Agri representative

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