Ytitn’un­os­tot­srDiomppo yun­biar­fg­foeen­hitb­moc

Irish Examiner - Farming - - BEEF SECTOR - Brian Reidy

The 2017 harvest has got off to a good start, with ideal har­vest­ing con­di­tions. Mois­tures and bushels seem to be of a high stan­dard, mean­ing ex­cel­lent qual­ity feed­ing for the win­ter.

And straw has been baled in ex­cel­lent con­di­tion.

It has how­ever been a very mixed few weeks around the coun­try with re­gard to grass growth, with some ar­eas ex­pe­ri­enc­ing a mini-drought, and even though we got some rain over the last week, more is still needed to push on grass growth.

Sec­ond silage cuts have not yet been made on most beef farms, due to de­layed first cuts.

We are now head­ing into Au­gust, so it will soon be time to start plan­ning for the bank­ing up of grass for the au­tumn. It is im­por­tant if you have a short­age of grass un­til af­ter the sec­ond cut that you slow down the ro­ta­tion and sup­ple­ment with ei­ther silage or con­cen­trates.

If you don’t iden­tify this short­age early enough, it will mean hav­ing to sup­ple­ment grass for a much longer pe­riod.

It is im­por­tant that you keep ap­ply­ing ni­tro­gen af­ter graz­ings, to keep growth go­ing.

Buy­ing ce­re­als off the com­bine

There are var­i­ous ce­real op­tions for beef farm­ers to feed over the win­ter.

This year is no dif­fer­ent. The price for ce­re­als off the com­bine re­mains ex­cel­lent value for the end user, mean­ing that it makes great sense to try and source and store some for the com­ing feed­ing sea­son.

With the cur­rent beef price it is es­sen­tial that pro­duc­tion costs are con­trolled, with­out com­pro­mis­ing on an­i­mal per­for­mance. In plain English, you should buy top qual­ity na­tive ce­re­als at good value, rather than pur­chase less feed and make do with lesser an­i­mal per­for­mance.

As with all re­cent years, we still see a sce­nario where na­tive ce­re­als are at a low price, and the feed in­dus­try con­tin­ues to im­port grain and in­fe­rior by-prod­ucts for in­clu­sion in ru­mi­nant feeds. The pow­ers-that-be must do much more to en­cour­age farm-to-farm trad­ing of ce­re­als, and max­i­mum in­clu­sion of na­tive Ir­ish ce­re­als in com­pound feeds.

Best value this au­tumn

Ce­re­als off the com­bine again rep­re­sent fan­tas­tic value per unit of en­ergy ver­sus what will be avail­able in the form of most blended feeds this win­ter.

Ce­re­als will al­ways be higher in en­ergy dur­ing the win­ter than com­pound blends con­structed on a least cost ba­sis.

Buy­ing wheat, bar­ley or oats off the com­bine, and stor­ing it with any of the avail­able treat­ment meth­ods, will re­sult in a high-en­ergy, top-qual­ity feed be­ing avail­able to feed at ap­prox­i­mately €190 per tonne. This will help to hugely re­duce to­tal con­cen­trate costs, by €50 to €80 per tonne, once the feed has been bal­anced for your stock.

If you have any no­tion of buy­ing and stor­ing grain, you should pur­chase it sooner rather than later.

The most cost-ef­fec­tive way to get grain is di­rectly from the grower, so talk to lo­cal tillage farm­ers to se­cure your sup­ply. Get ad­vice be­fore you de­cide on whether to buy bar­ley, wheat or oats.

This ad­vice must be based on how you in­tend to treat the grain, the vol­ume you will feed and what type of an­i­mals you are feed­ing.

Some meth­ods of­fer longer stor­age than oth­ers, while there are also treat­ment meth­ods that en­hance the grain’s feed value.

Feed­ing high lev­els of ce­re­als for top per­for­mance

Many beef pro­duc­ers feed high lev­els of ce­re­als to fin­ish­ing cat­tle.

Most of these are feed­ing young bulls to fin­ish un­der 16 months.

It is crit­i­cal that man­age­ment in a fin­ish­ing sys­tem like this is top notch. Pre­vent­ing di­ges­tive up­sets is the num­ber one pri­or­ity with ad-lib di­ets.

An ex­cel­lent method of feed­prospects, ing ad-lib ce­re­als to cat­tle is by treat­ing the grain with an ad­di­tive that in­creases the pH to an al­ka­line level of around 9, which also en­hances the pro­tein con­tent.

This op­tion means that you can feed all na­tive ce­re­als, and elim­i­nate lower en­ergy im­ported ma­te­ri­als.

The high pH pre­vents the an­i­mals from get­ting the aci­do­sis nor­mally as­so­ci­ated with high starch feed­ing. For those in­tend­ing to feed 6-8 kg to steers or heifers this win­ter, the al­ka­line ce­re­als with en­hanced pro­tein would be a com­plete feed to bal­ance good qual­ity grass silage along, with a min­eral sup­ple­ment. In­de­pen­dent dairy and beef nu­tri­tion con­sul­tant Brian Reidy, Pre­mier Farm Nu­tri­tion, can be con­tacted at

Pic­ture: De­nis Mini­hane

The pa­rade of cat­tle cham­pi­ons at last week’s Car­bery Show in Sk­ib­bereen, Co Cork.

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