Beans to play greater role in diet
The Tullamore show has come and gone. For me, the show marks the beginning of serious discussions regarding the winter feeding season.
I was particularly impressed with the beef livestock on display at this year's show, both commercial and pedigree. There was an air of cautious optimism among the beef farmers that I met, however the prices of stores remains a major concern.
Given the time of year, grain and feed prices are another hot topic for discussion around the show site. The double-edged sword of current low grain prices, while a negative for grain growers, is certainly a positive for livestock farmers.
The winter barley crop is now fully harvested and appears to be of excellent quality throughout the country. The broken weather created some difficulty in saving winter barley straw with a lot of straw chopped at harvest for incorporating back into the soil as organic matter.
If there were to be any difficulty in saving straw from the spring crops, supplies may be tight for the feeding sector.
For those budgeting for straw inclusion in their finishing rations, feed rates above 0.75kg/hd a day will create a number of negatives.
Intakes will also be reduced where straw exceeds this level in a forage based finishing ration. Whilst it is difficult to monitor straw intakes in ad-lib diets, most estimations are that 1.5kg/hd a day will be consumed by a mature animal.
For the spring calving suckler cow, straw should play an important role.