Finishing Cattle at Grass
by Mark Flannery B Agr. Sc
CSO figures show slaughter numbers for the first quarter of 2023 vs 2022 are down by approx. 0.5%, some interesting stats show how cattle slaughtering’s increased in January by 6.5%, February by 2%, with a contraction for March of 5% and April of 16%. This could mean multiple things, including less heads of cattle for slaughter or more cattle for grass finishing under thirty months.
History tells us that Cattle finished off grass in early summer generally command a greater price than those finished in the autumn. It’s now time to identify ages of cattle because any animal born on the 01st February 2021 will hit 30 months of age by 01st August 2023. In many factories there will be an “in-spec” bonus of up to 20 cent per kg for steers and heifers slaughtered less than 30 months, this bonus can be reduced back to 8 cent per kg for these cattle that are over 30 months of age. Based on a 300kg carcass x (12 cent differential) equates to €36 per head.
Dietary requirements for finishing cattle at grass include a high energy, low protein concentrate offered at a rate of 3-4kg where good quality grass 1200-1600kg (10 cm high) is consistently available. Where grass quality is average or poor or even in tight supply, then the rate of meal offered needs to be increased to a simple rule of thumb, 1kg concentrate per 100kg live weight, e.g. a 500kg animal needs to be offered 5kg of meal.
Meal feeding at grass will contribute to an earlier finish, better price, better grading and improved kill out percentages, all combined will deliver savings of:
|Under 30 Months Finishing
|+ 12 cent x 300 kg carcass
|O+ vs 0- (12 cent x 300kg)
|Improved Kill out %
|2% of (300kg carcass) @ €5 kg
|Improved Daily Gain
|0.2 kg LW @ 50% killout = 0.1kg x 42 days @ €5 per kg
|Cost of Meal
|€380 p/t (4kg x 42 days)
Liffey Mills have an extensive range of beef rations and cubes to cater for all your finishing requirements. All of our feeds contain up to 50% Barley and Maize attributing to increased fat cover, digestible proteins like distillers & soya bean and high quality fibres such as citrus and beet pulp. Our Continental Beef and Beef Boom contain a unique additive called VIANDI, a natural growth promotor containing plant extracts and essential oils ensuring a stable rumen environment and increased intakes.
Contact your local Liffey Mills rep for any further information.