Rapid live weight gain and optimum finish requires feeding high starch, cereal based feeds.  High starch levels are especially important in large framed, difficult to finish animals.  Adequate quantities of structural fibre (0.5 – 1.5 kg of straw per head per day) are essential to ensure maximal intake and make sure cattle stay sound.  This needs to be supplied in a ring feeder as cattle will not eat what they lie on (even if it looks clean to you).

Bulls around 200 kg can move from the rearing ration straight to the finishing one, but it’s helpful to make the ration more palatable in the last 60 – 80 days to give intake a boost.  Also black & white bulls tend to respond to lower crude protein rations as high protein tends to make them grow tall and lean, making them hard to finish.

Although forage based systems can be cost effective for finishing cattle, this is dependent on using high quality silages.  This could prove a challenge this year!  Make sure you have your silage analysed to see what it’s like and feed accordingly.  Large quantities of grass silage in bull beef diets will reduce energy density and extend days to finish.  Reliance on poor quality forage will reduce live weight gain substantially.  Unless high quality forages can be fed, fast finishing cereal based systems will get cattle off the farm quickly and efficiently.

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