Farmer Focus: Bulls economically viable at £3.60/kg

The brilliant spell of weather in early May enabled us to get our first cut silage harvested in good weather and hopefully with good quality.

This should reduce the meal required for our weanlings and finishing cattle this winter.

Our bull calves from last year are performing well on a total mixed finisher ration. We are targeting these for slaughter in early July, which leaves about 30 days of feeding time left.

Bulls finishing stacks up 

Based on last year’s bull weighings at the same stage we hope to achieve a daily liveweight gain of 1.8kg per head/day.

See also: Read more from our Livestock Farmer Focus writers

At current beef prices of around £3.60/kg and a kill-out of 58% it means the economics of feeding bulls is viable. This is a welcome change from last year’s beef prices, as many readers will understand.

Our bull calves from last year are Charolais, Stabiliser and Hereford bred. The Stabiliser and Hereford bulls, as expected, are carrying much more flesh than the Charolais.

It will be important to weigh these regularly to ensure weight gains are still being achieved and that fat covers aren’t just increasing without carcass weight.

Grass abundance

A further 4ha was removed from grazing ground and made into big-bale silage. Grass growth has been good over the last few weeks so too much grass was at the same growth stage and was going to lose quality.

This was our first year sowing Goulding graze plus Avail on ground that required phosphate and potash. Visibly it seems to have done an excellent job, the grass is greener and regrowths have been excellent.

We will need to top some paddocks after grazing to maintain sward quality for the next rotation. Grass swards are heavier than optimal and we cannot remove any more grass for silage.  

We are sowing another fertiliser from Goulding called sweetgrass on grazing ground that requires no P or K. I’m interested to see what happens next rotation as I’m told it will make cattle graze swards tighter. 

Matthew Brownlee farms 121ha alongside his father in County Armagh, Northern Ireland. They run 100 Limousin-cross suckler cows and buy in store cattle to finish.