Make the most of May-June grazing to cut beef feed costs

Beef producers achieving growth rates of less than 1kg a day over the grazing season could be getting more from their grassland, according to EBLEX.

Many farmers are forced to compensate for poor weight gains of only 0.5-0.6kg a day off grass by pushing stock to achieve growth rates of up to 1.5kg a day during housed finishing. However, independent grassland expert and EBLEX consultant Charlie Morgan believes producers can easily avoid this situation and cut their feed costs.

“The exceptional quality of grass during May and June means growth rates of 1.2kg a day are easily achievable with good management practices,” says Mr Morgan.

“Well-managed grazing early in the season will extend grass quality for a longer period of time – livestock producers can realistically aim for a 200-day grazing season.

“Good growth rates off grass, combined with a longer grazing season, means producers are far less reliant on expensive finishing diets and can make significant cost savings.”

However, weight gain is not the only measure of cattle performance. Body-condition scoring is an equally important management tool for suckler cows and heifers, says Mary Vickers, EBLEX livestock scientist.

“Better returns result from using low-cost grazing during spring and summer to increase body condition reserves.

“Suckler cows can lay down fat when feed is plentiful and mobilise it again when feed supply does not meet nutritional demands.

“It is vital that producers ensure cows are carrying the correct level of condition, particularly at service time and six weeks before calving – body condition scoring is a simple and practical measure for assessing this,” explains Dr Vickers.

• Beef producers looking to improve their cattle performance from grass or learn more about Body Condition Scoring can visit the EBLEX stand in the exhibition hall at Beef Expo, Hexham Auction Mart, on 27 May.

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