Silage feed helps benefit performance

INCREASING SILAGE feed value was more beneficial to beef cattle performance than whether grain was dry, crimped or urea treated, or grain intake level was increased, Tim Keady told BSAS delegates.

 Results from his trial at the Agricultural Research Institute of Northern Ireland, Hillsborough, show cutting silage two weeks earlier increased carcass gain of Continental cross beef cattle by 16kg over a 111-day trial (see table). The two silages were cut from perennial ryegrass swards on May 15 and June 2 last year and had D-values of 73 and 67, respectively.

Increasing silage feed value had a greater effect on animal performance than increasing daily grain intake from 3.5kg to 5.9kg of concentrate dry matter a head. This altered carcass gain by just 0.05kg a day.

 But increasing grain feed level cut silage intake and resulted in higher total DM intake, final live weight, carcass weight, carcass gain and improved conformation, said Dr Keady.

 He also tested three processing options for grain. “Crimping grain resulted in the same level of animal performance as conventionally processed and stored grain. But urea treatment tended to decrease carcass gain by 9% compared with the other options.” Concentrate as fed consisted of 85% DM wheat and 15% DM citrus pulp.

 “The crimped wheat was treated with 4.5 litres/t of a proprietary acid-based additive. Urea-treated wheat was ensiled whole, mixed with 20kg urea and 30 litres of water/t fresh weight. The conventional wheat was treated with propionic acid.”