Many beef producers are struggling to make a margin over feed, according to nutritionist Bruce Wood­acre, speaking at a Royal Smithfield Christmas Fair seminar.

But growing more forage on farm could be one way to improve margins, he advised. “Better, more efficient use of compound feed and forage could mean the difference between profit and loss.

“Producers should be aiming to produce both forage and concentrates on farm. Maize can be used as a forage or a concentrate, or both.

“When land can support maize it should be grown, as the high starch and dry matter content finished beef animals efficiently and at least cost,” explained Mr Woodacre.

While considering what forage fitted best with land available, growers should also consider what the market wanted.

Inaccurate

“Producers should, ideally, be finishing at 300kg in 200 days. By keeping animals longer the costs of production become inaccurate.

“When using on-farm cereals, don’t forget to cost it as you would buy it in, as this gives a true picture of ration cost,” said Mr Woodacre. “And if considering rolling, crops should, ideally, be soaked before rolling to minimise losses. However, this does mean it has to be used fairly quickly.”

Having a fully costed crop programme could help identify areas which were costing more. “Producers should aim to calculate the cost for each MJ of energy produced, which allows target rationing at least cost.”