Relative costs of feedstuffs
Studies show there are cost-effective supplements to help you finish off cattle in winter monthsBalancing the concentrate needs
Published 25/10/2011 | 05:00
This is the time of year when grass supply rarely meets the increasing demand of cattle destined to be finished over the coming weeks and months. The challenge of meeting the nutritional needs of your cattle is compounded by the fact that the feeding value of grass is decreasing with each passing week.
Research at Grange has shown that even on well- managed pasture with daily dry matter allowances of 20g/kg liveweight of high digestibility grass, liveweight gain of finishing cattle in autumn was only 0.8kg/day. Contrast this with the much higher gains, often more than 1kg/day, obtained earlier in the season. In practice, animal performance is often substantially less than this.
Consequently, options for finishing of cattle in autumn generally involve concentrate supplementation at pasture or finishing indoors.
As grazed grass is considerably cheaper than either grass silage or concentrates, early finishing of cattle at pasture in autumn, before housing becomes necessary, is less costly. In situations where complete finishing at pasture is not possible, short-term supplementation at pasture is often worthwhile as it still reduces the requirement of more costly conserved forage.
For example, the build-up or adaptation period to concentrates may be implemented at pasture prior to indoor finishing. Diet aside, there are also the obvious substantial costs associated with feeding cattle indoors when compared with grazing.
Concentrate feeding level at pasture
Animal response to concentrate supplementation while grazing will depend on the availability and quality of pasture and level of supplemented concentrate.
One of the most important factors to consider is the substitution rate of concentrates for overall grass intake.