Care needed when cutting beef finishing costs

Cutting back on the use of supplementary concentrates to save money this winter could have the opposite effect of increasing overall beef finishing costs, EBLEX has warned.

While using fewer concentrates will reduce daily production costs, it will also result in lower daily weight gains and mean that animals need to be kept on for longer in order to reach the same target weight.

For example, figures from EBLEX’s new cost comparison tool (see table) suggest that reducing finishing gain from 1.3kg a day to 0.9kg/day is likely to increase barley-based beef finishing costs by £88/head (22%) for a typical 450kg Holstein Friesian x Limousin steer finished at 650kg.

This is because the period required to finish stock to the same weight is increased by almost half, resulting in higher bedding, water, labour and total feed costs.

Production systems based on home-grown forage are less sensitive to reductions in daily liveweight gains though. The same 450kg steer finished to 650kg on a good quality grass silage-based diet only showed a £25/head (8%) increase in finishing costs from the reduced liveweight gain. For maize silage-based systems, the difference was £44/head (14%).

“Under these circumstances, producers clearly need to plan their finishing regimes and rations particularly carefully this season to make the most of their individual opportunities for cost minimisation,” EBLEX said. “Analysing home-grown forages and understanding their true cost is vital to ensuring the most cost-effective regimes.”

Producers can compare total finishing costs and costs per kilo of gain for a range of feeding options, breeds and weights using the EBLEX Beef Finishing System Comparison tool at

EBLEX finishing costs for 450kg Holstein Friesian steer finished at 650kg

Liveweight gain




Finishing cost*






Barley based





88 (22%)

Maize silage based





44 (14%)

Good quality grass silage based





25 (8%)

*Includes all feeds, bedding, vet & med, labour, but excludes other overheads


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