The latest tips for beef farmers on Ad lib feeding cattle
For forward beef animals, a fast finish of 60 to 80 days can be the most efficient. Ad lib feeding of finishing cattle will lead to increased carcass gain, food conversion efficiency; improve carcase conformation while reducing the length of the finishing period.
Finishing cattle on ad lib meals will typically eat 1.8%-2% of their bodyweight daily on a dry matter basis.
Therefore a 600kg animal could eat 11kgs of dry matter per day. In an ad lib situation, 10kgs of this could be meals so a high level of management is required.
The main problems that arise are acidosis where the introduction to high concentrates is too fast or where cattle are allowed to get hungry and then eat too much too quickly.
Start with 2 or 3kgs and gradually build up over a three week period. Only top quality silage should be fed and straw is more suitable where large amounts of concentrates are consumed.
Choose a quality high energy concentrate; avoid changing the ingredients especially in the final 60 days before slaughter.
Energy and Protein Sources:
The selection of feed ingredients for ad lib feeding is critical. A mixture of cereals such as barley, wheat or maize and pulps like citrus pulp or soya hulls is better than one ingredient. The protein content of finishing rations is normally 12% but it can be higher for finishing young bulls.