Managing body condition score throughout winter and turning out at least three weeks earlier could reduce silage use by up to 15%, contributing significantly to a much needed reduction in input costs for suckler producers.

Keenan nutritionist Donald Brown told seminar delegates at Beef Expo that producers needed to reduce the cost of keeping cows by improving growth rates from better feed management and improved grass use.

“But, although body condition needs managing, refrain from starving cows to prevent calving large calves as this will lead to long term damage, difficult calvings and reduced milking ability.

When cows need to be managed in that way, simply change breed.”

And coupled with improvements to cow management, producers should look to maximise 200-day weights, he added.

“Focus on growing continuous frame with energy from starch-based diets, followed by a short period of maximum weight gain.

“Without subsidy payments, producers need to tighten production costs by keeping inputs to a minimum, but at the same time producing what the market requires.”