Limousin beef cattle in a straw yard© Tim Scrivener

Failing to use feeds which convert efficiently into growth can raise the feed costs on a typical beef finishing unit by 60p/kg liveweight gain (LWG).

This is worth at least £90 a head over a 100-120 day finishing period.

“A finished animal worth about £1.90/kg liveweight (£3.50/kg carcass weight) at slaughter fed for 80-90p/kg LWG leaves a lot more margin than one where feed costs are £1.50p/kg LWG,” states KW nutritionist Matt Witt.

See also: Top advice for creep-feeding beef calves

However, Dr Witt warns many beef farmers are not choosing feeds based on the value and quantity of nutrients supplied.

This results in a low-nutrient-density diet that is often poorly balanced, and isn’t efficiently converted into growth, he explains.

According to Dr Watt, rations capable of finishing cattle at 80p/kg LWG or lower must:

  • Be at least 12.0-12.5MJ ME/kg DM and 30-40% (DM basis)
  • Contain starch plus sugars to drive growth and finishing
  • Have 24-28% neutral detergent fiber. 

He says stock must also be given access to straw to promote efficient rumen fermentation.

“Rolled cereals are a popular beef feed, but processed bread and potato-starch feed are better value when it comes to supplying starch, and careful use of urea can help lower protein costs,” he advises.

“Other good options include the high value multipurpose feeds, such as liquid feed (sugars and protein) to improve palatability, increase intakes and reduce ration sorting.”