Farm Ireland

Tuesday 23 January 2018

Oats: the 'magic ingredient' that's often overlooked in dairy and beef diets

It has come to that time of year again when the evenings are drawing in and it's time to consider winter feeding options.

Michael Slattery, general manager of Drummonds, pointed out to farmers from the Teagasc Green Acres Calf to Beef programme that attention to detail from nutrition and feeding management to ventilation in housing is all important in finishing cattle

He stressed farmers need to focus more on the factors which determine the efficiency with which forage and concentrates are converted into carcase gain.

On the winter feeding options, he pointed out top quality maize silage delivers the same level of animal performance as grass silage with two kilos less meal.

However, he pointed out where starch levels are low in forage maize then it is an inferior feed to good quality grass silage.

"Good quality cattle gains of up to 1.5kg a day are being achieved with top class maize silage and balancer ration," he said. "It is essential to correctly balance the protein, and the digestible fibre in the overall diet as well as including a specialist mineral and buffer."

High energy

He said Irish-grown barley, wheat, oats and beans form the backbone of the feeds manufactured by Drummonds and Liffey Mills.

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Mr Slattery pointed out the high energy cereal ingredient maize is favourably priced this year, while soya hulls offer the best value digestible fibre source this season and can be included up to a maximum of 20pc in a beef finisher ration.

He pointed out the energy content of field bean is "at least" as good as cereals in addition to their high protein content. Beans are highly palatable and will largely be included in top quality coarse feeds but are not competitive for inclusion in nuts at the current price level.

He described oats as a "magic" ingredient which is often overlooked in quality dairy and beef diets. It is lower in energy than wheat or barley but is higher in unsaturated oil which helps produce good quality fat covers.

However, he said it was difficult for oats to compete on price this season with soya hulls.

Indo Farming