2 April 1999

Urea offers same beef margin

BEEF producers can afford to pay up to 8% more for a urea based protein supplement than rapeseed meal or a urea and soya mix and still achieve the same margin.

Performance of beef bulls offered three different protein supplements and a yeast culture was compared in a Rumenco funded trial at ADAS High Mowthorpe, Yorks.

Protein supplements in the cereal based ration were rapeseed meal, urea and a combination of urea and soya. The trial also studied the performance of beef cattle fed a yeast culture.

Rapeseed meal, urea and urea plus soya diets analysed at 17.8, 16.5 and 19.6% crude protein respectively and had similar MEs of 12.8 MJ/kg DM.

Bulls had liveweight gains of 1.38-1.48kg/day through to slaughter at 483-493kg. Those on the urea diet had carcass weights 6.3kg heavier through small changes in liveweight gain and feed conversion efficiency than those on the rapeseed diet.

Including soya plus urea in the diet did not improve performance compared with the rapeseed or urea alone diets. Responses to yeast culture in the diet were not significant.

Researcher Duncan Puller said that when he used carcass gain to compare economic performance it showed that the urea diet could be 8.2% more expensive than the rapeseed diet, while the urea plus soya diet was 2.2% more expensive, but cattle achieved the same margin.

"When the total ration can be costed at 8% less than a barley/rape mix then it is worth feeding urea."