Finishing beef systems can vary, however, feeding finishing cattle for a short period of time for maximum liveweight gain remains the aim for most producers. A well-balanced and consistent diet can help finish animals more efficiently, improving DLWG, reducing feed usage, and increasing output, therefore, reducing the overall carbon footprint. It is really important for any beef system to monitor the liveweight gain (LWG) and feed conversion rate (FCR) in order to ensure your beef enterprise is a financial success. The most crucial factor is knowing the cost per kg of liveweight gain.
Feed is a major cost in all beef finishing systems and taking steps to improve feed efficiency will improve margins. Nutritional, genetic, gender, animal health and management also can influence feed efficiency. Finishing diets should be introduced slowly to help the rumen adapt to the increased starch and lower protein levels within the diet composition. Once fully transitioned intakes of concentrate could reach 8kg+ when animals are eating ad-lib. Care should be taken to ensure forage is available at all times, straw with its higher NDF, physical structure and buffering capacity would be preferable. Whatever the type of forage is supplied it should be clean, mould free and dust free.
During the finishing phase overall appetite falls in relation to body weight, so it is important that intakes are encouraged through management with plenty of available feed access and feed should be kept fresh and palatable. Fresh, clean water should always be available, and intakes may be increased with the drier concentrate/straw diet.
- Heifers may be better suited to slower rates of gain to ensure the minimum carcase weight
is achieved without excessive levels of fat deposition.
- Energy, particularly from starch, is vital to drive liveweight gain in finishing rations.
- Cereals in blends should be cracked or rolled and not finely ground.
- Increasing CP levels above 14% in Finishing Holstein bulls show no growth rate response.
- Inclusion of long fibre is best supplied in either separate racks or mixed into the
- Oil can be a useful rich energy source, but excessive oil in the ration can depress intake.
- Ensure gradual transition to high-concentrate diets and ad-lib feeding.
- Never let ad-lib feed hoppers run out so that animals gorge when they are refilled.
- Consider including rumen buffers or yeast.
- Implement a good health program.
NWF Agriculture offers a standard range of beef finishing ranges with bespoke diets available. For further information, please speak to your local NWF Sales Specialist or call 0800 756 2787.
By NWF Technical Development Manager, Paul Mardell.