It's pointless following market trend for no profit
A research update contained in Teagasc's latest beef advisory newsletter concludes that early maturing steers finished at 19 months were "lighter and fatter and had poorer carcass conformation, plus a lower response to concentrate supplementation than LM" (late maturing) stock.
These early-maturing animals from Aberdeen Angus and Hereford are what we are now being told the market wants. It's all very well producing what the market wants but what is the point in doing so if it's going to be even worse that the current system which is, in most cases, doing no better than breaking even?
The update was drawn from a trial undertaken at Grange to determine growth and carcass characteristics of early and late-maturing steers (in this case Charolais and Limousin) produced in three contrasting systems, with slaughter prior to the second wintering period.
The underlying premise is that this could offer the possibility of reducing production costs by eliminating the final housing period.
All animals shared a common first (store) winter. After that they were allocated to either:
(1) 175 days pasture only;
(2) 100 days grazing followed by 75 days at pasture supplemented by 5kg concentrate;
(3) 100 days at pasture followed by 75 days indoors on ad-lib concentrates.