Cow weights need checking

9 January 1998

Cow weights need checking

PRODUCERS with spring calving suckler herds should check cow weights to ensure best use of cheap alternative feeds to complement for- age rations and help boost margins.

So says Alan Mathieson, Signet livestock consultant: "Producers often underestimate the weight of cows and, therefore, do not ration efficiently. If you do your homework it not too difficult to improve condition cost effectively. If in doubt weigh the cows."

He suggests most sucklers are in good condition after the mild autumn. Those with a condition score of three can afford to lose weight so feed savings can be made. "Leaner heifers, with a condition score of two, should be separated and fed to achieve condition score two-and-a-half before calving."

Rations should be supplying a total ME of 75MJ in the run-up to calving, but in the last six weeks this should fall to 70MJ to minimise calving difficulties.

Maize gluten at £90/t, dark distillers at £120, pot ale syrup at £34/t, and feed barley at £74/t will help cut feed costs, he says. "Stock feed potatoes, fodder beet or carrots are alternatives, but check what value to put in to the ration." &#42

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