Farm Business: How to save money and maximise returns when finishing cattle


In the next segment of our Farm Business series, we take a look at efficient beef production.

Farm Business: How to save money and maximise returns when finishing cattle

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  • 2 years ago

In the next segment of our Farm Business series, we take a look at efficient beef production.

As production costs continue to soar, farmers are continuing to strive to retain as much finance in their pockets as possible, while simultaneously maximising their returns when finishing cattle.

It is always advised to choose a feeding system that is best suited to your farm. Available resources in terms of facilities, housing, finance and foodstuff are all key factors that should be taken into consideration.

Setting Targets

Teagasc have set key targets in terms of the ideal maximum duration of finishing periods.

It is advised that steers and heifers should ideally be finished between 60-90 days.

Bulls can take up to 180 days to finish, but ideally 80-120 days.

Diet

When finishing cattle, feeders should focus on the diet of the animal.

It’s important to note that the dietary requirements depend on the individual animal.

Protein and Fibre sources are important along with a forage source.

Common ingredients including Wheat, wheat feed (pollard) Maize grain, Barley, Beet pulp, citrus pulp, soya hulls and molasses.

Teagasc reports that steers should have 11-12% crude protein (CP) / kg diet dry matter (DM).

Bulls that are growing (up to 550 kg LW) should aim for 13-14% CP / kg diet DM.

Bulls exceeding 550kg aim for 11-12% CP / kg diet DM.

10% of the diet should comprise of roughage.

Purchasing Concentrate Feeds

  • Seek the advice and expertise of a Ruminant Nutritionist is advised.
  • Construct a proper nutrition plan.
  • It’s important to remember than on average animals eat about 2.0-2.2% of body weight per day, Teagasc reveals. This depends on the breed and sex of the animal, along with many other factors.
  • It’s always best to shop around when purchasing concentrate feeds.
  • Always search for quality value for money.
  • Depending on the nature of the mix, beef nuts are costing in the region of an average of €230-260 per tonne. Prices vary.
  • The contents and quality of the feed should become the priority.
  • Yeast, for the stabilisation of the rumen should also be considered as a possible supplementation. It’s important to keep the diet well buffered.
  • Bulking in bulk (tonnes) as opposed to buying in bag is advised in order to cut financial costs.
  • Look at getting the feed delivered to your farm or alternatively you can collect at the store yourself, if you have the necessary equipment.
  • Consider storage facilities such as a silo. This is an additional cost.
  • Purchase feed from licenced suppliers.
  • Monitor the performance of your cattle regularly. Weighing, assessing Body Condition Score and also the health of the animal is paramount.
  • Slaughter cattle as soon as they are fit for slaughter. Over-fat animals are not cost-effective to feed.
  • In addition, animals should receive silage with 72 DMD or even greater. This should be supplement is the quality is lower than this standard.
  • Maximise Dry Matter
  • Add minerals to prevent deficiency diseases and maintain the overall animal health of the animal, providing a balanced diet.
  • Animals should have access to a clean supply of water at all times.

Grassland Management

While concentrates take their place in a finishing diet, the maximum utilisation of grass should be emphasised.

Grassland Management is paramount.

Consider stocking rates, swards and grazing quality and quantity.

Spring grass costs less than one third of the price of concentrates.

Purchasing Cattle

  • When purchasing cattle it is important to select stock that is suited to your system.
  • Be sure to shop around in order to get quality value.
  • Ensure you have the facilities required for the feeding system selected.
  • Note the expected finishing date.

We also covered finishing cattle on That’s Farming several times before.

See here.

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