28 March 1997

Tighten store management

WITH margins for store cattle squeezed, it is vital for beef producers to maximise growth as soon as animals are turned out.

Independent beef consultant David Allen says that at current finished cattle prices there will be no margin at all unless producers tighten up on all areas of management of stock at grass.

He warns that cattle selected for finishing must be in lean condition when they are bought in and should have had growth rates between 0.6kg and 0.7kg a day through the winter so compensatory growth is expressed at grass.

"An overall growth rate of 0.8kg a day for heifers and 0.9kg for steers is vital to enable finishing off grass. Initial growth rates must, therefore, exceed 1kg a day for steers," says Dr Allen.

This requires the maintenance of a good quality sward and initial stocking rates must be high at about 2.5t of liveweight a hectare to keep on top of grass growth and sustain grass quality.

He suggests the stocking rate can then be dropped to 1.5t/ha in line with the decline in grass growth by selling heifers. "It is vital that heifers are sold as soon as possible in the early summer before the beef price begins to fall according to its normal annual decline," says Dr Allen. &#42