8 August 1997

Feed well for a good finish

CLEAN cattle close to 30 months old must be fed a high energy ration to finish them quickly before they have to be sold on to the over-30-month scheme.

ADAS consultant Elwyn Rees says that clean cattle – being submitted to OTMS at a rate of 1000 a week – are likely to be ones which have suffered setbacks through disease or poor feeding earlier in their lives.

"But returns would be better if instead of allowing them to drift into the scheme, beef producers managed grass carefully and fed concentrates to ensure they finished within 30 months."

Dr Rees recommends that animals at about 24 months should be kept on swards between 7cm to 10cm (3-4in) in late summer to autumn. When grass heights fall 1cm (0.5in) below this level, producers should feed 1.5kg barley or 7kg silage.

As for culls, he warns that the 7p/kg reduction in OTMS payments for liveweights below 560kg means that extra feeding is not economic.

"Feed conversion efficiency for these cows is only 10:1 and at present feed costs about 8p/kg. It will, therefore, cost about 80p/kg liveweight gain for which the OTMS payment will be only 57.7p/kg," he says.n