6 October 1995

Compounds may be best way to stretch out forage supplies

By Jonathan Riley

FEEDING high rates of compounds could be a cheaper way to eke out forage than buying silage or treating straw, says independent beef consultant David Allen.

Speaking at a workshop on beef profitability at the Royal Agricul-tural College, Cirencester, Glos, Dr Allen said: "Intakes of 10.5 ME silage fall, and daily liveweight gains rise, when higher rates of a 12 ME compound are fed, because of the increase in energy intakes.

"So for those who have good first cuts and no second cuts increasing the compound rate could be the cheapest option."

Increasing compounds from 1kg to 4kg a head a day raises the DLWG gain for a 350kg liveweight Continental cross from 0.9kg to 1.2kg – almost halving the length of the feeding period.

"Silage intakes for a 350kg Continental cross, fed 1kg of compound a day, would be about 7.6kg dry matter a day. And finishing to fat class 4L would take about 220 days with a total compound use of 220kg dry matter a head and silage use of 1.7t dry matter a head.

"But fed 4kg of compound a day the same animal could be finished in 115 days, using 460kg of compound over the period and reducing silage intakes to 0.7t DM a head. Slaughter weights, however, would be lower because the faster animals grow the faster they fatten. For example, a 350kg Continental cross growing at 1.2kg a day will probably make fat class 4L at about 490kg," he said.

"As the diet gets more energy intensive the level of protein that can be used increases. Continental bulls growing at 1.3kg to 1.5kg a day can sustain a dietary level of 15% crude protein.

"Animals up to 200kg live-weight need good DUP sources such as maize gluten. But once beyond this weight a cheaper source of protein, such as urea, could be used, particularly in energy rich rations," said Dr Allen.

David Allen: "Increasing compound rates could be the cheapest option."