Finishing cattle at 19-21 months may be typical, but few would achieve this without feeding any concentrates through the growing or finishing period.
Yet this is what Mark and Liz Egerton, who farm 60ha (150 acres) on a Less Favoured Area unit in Monmouthshire, are achieving with progeny of their 60 sucklers. “Last autumn only three were sold as stores, the rest were finished at grass in autumn,” says Mr Egerton.
The Simmental and Angus cross cows calve in a 10 week block from February and graze until the end of October or early November, when cows are housed and calves are weaned. Heifers average 285kg weaned, while steers averaged 300kg.
“In that first winter, we just feed calves grass silage.” However, he does admit to being tempted to feed some supplement to bulls in their first winter and may in future. x
In their second season at grass, he keeps good grass in front of them and sees growth rates of 1.2kg a day from April to July. “Then a fodder crop is grazed to fill the August feed gap. We’ve been using a mix of forage rape and Westerwolds,” he explains.
“They stay on this or pasture until they are about three weeks from finishing, when they are moved on to a high clover sward.”
Finished cattle are sold directly from the field and are neither housed nor fed concentrates, he adds. The 2005-born heifers averaged 266kg deadweight, with 10 grading O and seven grading R and steers averaged 301kg, with 11 grading O, nine grading R and one grading U-.