Look again at feeding practices to avoid animals going 'stale'
Off-the-shelf mixes also need examination
A common worry for beef farmers at this time of year is of cattle that are still housed 'going stale'. Some are tempted to put it down to some inherent inability of the animal to thrive indoors during the summer. However, the real reason for poor thrive is more likely to be related to:
* Poor pit face management and forage quality deterioration;
* Other on-farm activities receiving priority over feeding and management;
* Animals on feed reaching their finish point (particularly steers and heifers);
* Cattle that have been on slats for too long suffering from a build-up of foot complaints;
* Incorrect feeding strategy being employed.
In certain circumstances, particularly where forage is a big part of the diet, it may be best to move away from forage feeding to the ad-lib feeding of concentrates. This switch will help address the issues of labour, deteriorating forage quality and will give the animals an energy boost to enhance performance and kill out.
As cereals make up the vast majority of an ad-lib ration and are currently very good value for money, there is merit in adopting this system of feeding. However, attention should be paid to the introductory phase to allow the animal to get used to an unlimited amount of meal.