Max­imis­ing in­take to op­ti­mise per­for­mance

Irish Examiner - Farming - - AGRI ADVERTISING FEATURE - Daniel Hes­sion

Max­imis­ing dry mat­ter in­take (DMI) is vi­tal to op­ti­mise per­for­mance of grow­ing and fin­ish­ing cat­tle. In­creas­ing growth rates will re­duce days to slaugh­ter and im­prove your feed con­ver­sion ef­fi­ciency. Max­imis­ing in­take re­lies on a num­ber of ar­eas.

For­mu­la­tion of the ra­tion

Very wet or dry ra­tions can re­duce in­take as can highly fi­brous ra­tions which fill up the ru­men and are slowly fer­mented. In mixed ra­tions con­tain­ing for­age, aim for a dry mat­ter (DM) range of 40 -55%. Min­imise dust in dry ra­tions by adding a liq­uid feed such as mo­lasses

Keep feeds fresh and palat­able

Some in­gre­di­ents are more palat­able than oth­ers. Poor stor­age of feeds can pre­dis­pose them to moulds which not only re­duce in­take but can cause health prob­lems. Con­sis­tency is also im­por­tant, as it will take time for the ru­men mi­crobes to adapt to any changes.

Con­tin­u­ous ac­cess to a clean and com­fort­able feed­ing area

Do not let the feed bar­ri­ers pre­vent cat­tle eat­ing as much as they want. Check they are high enough and wide enough to al­low easy ac­cess with no sharp edges. Smooth sur­faces are eas­ier for the cat­tle to eat from and keep clean. Avoid pit­ted, rough con­crete feed­ing sur­faces. Clean feed troughs out reg­u­larly, at least weekly to avoid the build-up of old or heated feeds. Al­low ac­cess to feed all the time. Push up and feed reg­u­larly enough to en­sure fresh feed is al­ways avail­able to the cat­tle. Al­low suf­fi­cient feed space so that all cat­tle can be fed at once if not feed­ing ad-lib ra­tions.

Pen space

Too many an­i­mals in a pen means there are less feed­ing op­por­tu­ni­ties for each an­i­mal. Ev­ery time they get a chance to eat they will con­sume larger vol­umes of feed, pro­duc­ing more acid and in­creas­ing the chances of ru­men up­sets.

Clean fresh wa­ter

In­take of wa­ter is pos­i­tively cor­re­lated to feed in­take. Site wa­ter troughs to avoid feed or bed­ding con­tam­i­na­tion, but where cat­tle can reach them eas­ily. Clean wa­ter troughs reg­u­larly, at least weekly.


En­sure there is good ven­ti­la­tion but avoid draughts at an­i­mal level. An­i­mals should have a dry lie and be com­fort­able. Avoid mix­ing an­i­mals once they are housed as this in­creases stress.

Health plan

Have a health pro­gramme in place to en­sure that worms, liver and ru­men fluke and ex­ter­nal par­a­sites like lice and mange are con­trolled and are not af­fect­ing per­for­mance. Watch out for lame­ness and treat/foot­bath as re­quired. O’Dono­van En­gi­neer­ing, Ire­land’s lead­ing de­signer & man­u­fac­turer of hous­ing and han­dling equip­ment, have a wide range of troughs, drinkers, bar­ri­ers and cu­bi­cles avail­able for your win­ter hous­ing fa­cil­i­ties.

O’Dono­van En­gi­neer­ing (ODEL) have 5 dif­fer­ent styles of bar­ri­ers; di­ag­o­nal, crest, self-lock­ing, ul­tra-safe and the CowPow. All these bar­ri­ers can be cus­tom made to any length to suit any farmer’s needs. A wide range of beef and suck­ler pen­ning is also avail­able and ODEL will man­u­fac­ture cus­tom pen­ning to suit your needs. Ef­fi­ciency is the main pri­or­ity in mind when de­sign­ing our bar­ri­ers. We aim to; min­i­mize wastage, re­duce bul­ly­ing and max­i­mize com­fort for the an­i­mal whilst eat­ing. Stain­less Steel fixed and flip­ping wa­ter drinkers are prov­ing ex­tremely pop­u­lar due to their large ca­pac­ity and ease of clean­ing. A com­mon prob­lem with drink­ing tanks in houses is wa­ter be­ing fouled. With the flip­ping drinker, con­tents can be sim­ply dumped by a quick flick over of the tank, which is on a pivot, with a fast flow valve.

O’Dono­van En­gi­neer­ing also sup­ply a wide range of La Bu­vette drink­ing bowls. These cast iron bowls which main­tain a con­stant wa­ter level and have a wrap­around gal­va­nized pro­tec­tion are ideal for calf and cat­tle pens.

All of O’Dono­van En­gi­neer­ing’s win­ter hous­ing prod­uct range is avail­able to view on or call for fur­ther in­for­ma­tion.

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