Continental bull system shows highest returns
FINISHING quality continental bulls for beef at 16 months was the most profitable system at Kildalton College in the 201617 season.
Beef technician John O’Connor, who runs the beef unit at the college, outlined four systems used during the season.
Continental bull beef slaughtered at 16 months gave the highest return, showing a net margin of €362/hd for animals which were slaughtered in May at an average of €4.40kg for 435kg carcase with 91pc U grade and 9pc E grade.
Mr O’Connor stressed with bull beef it is very important to watch the weight to avoid being cut for being over target weight.
He added: “Failing to achieve the right fat store could land you in a lot of trouble on returns.
“You have to know what you are doing and you have to be able to take advice to ensure that the requirements are met. Make sure that you don’t put too much into animals that won’t meet one spec and are overdone for another spec.”
The least profitable system was 24-month suckler finishing steers, which left a margin of €23hd for the spring-finished animals slaughtered at an av- erage carcase weight of 397kg and sold for €4.12/kg, with 16pc classified as E grade, 68pc U grade and 16pc R grade.
Weanlings were purchased in September 2015 at 260kg and finished in February 2017 at live weight of 671kg. Each animal received 8 tonnes silage over two winters and were fed 0.9t of concentrates to finishing.
24-MONTH CALF TO BEEF
The system which showed the second highest return at €161/ hd was 24-month calf to beef for February finishing, with 34pc grading O and 66pc grading P at slaughter.
The purchase cost of calves was put at €220/hd with 8.2t of silage and 0.9t of concentrates fed. The animals were slaughtered at 656kg liveweight and a carcase weight of 326kg at an average price of €3.60/kg.
The second lowest return was for 20-month heifer beef for autumn finishing, which left a margin of €53hd, with 30pc U grade and the remainder R grade.
The weanlings were costed in at €750 for 300kg and slaughtered at 576kg, giving a carcase weight of 323kg. They were fed 4.5 t of silage and 0.6t of concentrate. Minimal amounts for fixed costs were included in the calculations for each system.
Some farmers may be able to reduce the cost of some of the inputs such as straw, veterinary bills and transport, which had been factored in at the average for producers, said Mr O’Connor.
“Potentially this is the package of costings that you can be coming up against if you engage in the system. Look at what your actual costs are and see can you trim 15pc off because you are not buying in straw; because you are not buying in the animals; or you are capable of reducing other costs to the bone.”