Teagasc advises against feeding meal to stores
Feeding meal to beef cattle prior to a grass-based finishing diet doesn't deliver extra profit, according to the latest Teagasc research.
Trials outlined by Dr Edward O'Riordan to more than 400 farmers at the National Beef Conference in Athlone last week showed that animals only gained 6kg of carcase weight from half of a tonne of concentrate feeding.
The lead researcher at the Teagasc Grange centre advised the farmers keeping weanlings for themselves to keep daily supplement feeding under 2kg/head over the winter, but to strive to reduce it to zero if possible.
"If you're selling weanlings you may be justified in feeding more than the 2kg, but the buyer of the fancy weanling driven on by concentrates might be disappointed with the actual response," said Dr O'Riordan.
The Teagasc advice is based on the assumption that the farmer is feeding silage with a minimum drymatter digestibility of 72 throughout the winter, allowing the animal to continue gaining at least 0.5kg/day with little or no meals.
However, independent nutritionist, Gerry Giggins said that this was an unreasonable assumption for the majority of farmers.
"All the evidence points to silage quality getting worse nationally, and the last thing we want are cattle that gain no weight during a period of their lives," he said.
"All the international meat production standards insist on rearing systems that avoid this because it has a very negative effect on quality, with less marbling and more striations in the meat."