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Maximise early lean growth to meet carcase specifications

Beef producers need to review the value of by-pass protein in young stock diets to maximise carcase returns as a result of changes to some beef contracts and specification requirements.

“We’re being made aware of producers incurring substantially larger penalties for heavier carcasses and those not meeting specification,” says Bethany May, ruminant nutritionist at Trident Feeds.

“For this reason, maximising early lean growth where possible should be at the forefront of all producer’s minds and is a key component of finishing earlier, improving quality of finish and saving on feed costs,” she adds.

“And with poor market prices, it’s imperative that farmers get their animals finished quicker, while maximising feed efficiency to reduce total feed costs.”

Bethany explains that the key is to feed quality protein feeds that are high in by-pass protein during the first five months of growth, to boost metabolisable protein supply, otherwise known as digestible undegraded protein (DUP), without increasing overall crude protein levels.

As an animal gets older their feed conversion rates become less efficient. “Up to six months of age, feed is converted into growth most efficiently, which is why it’s so important to feed high quality protein as soon as possible,” says Bethany.

“Missing out on 10 per cent of early liveweight gain could cost you ~165kg of extra feed to get this weight back later,” she adds.

“For this reason, using British wheat distillers’ feed, rapeseed meal or soyabean meal, rather than low-cost protein sources such as urea, will help maximise early lean (muscle) growth without putting more pressure on the liver, meaning most lean frame growth has been accomplished by the time it comes to providing energy to lay down fat at finishing.

“In some instances, better value DUP feeds like SoyPass (rumen-protected soyabean meal) and ProtoTec (heat-treated rapemeal) can also be worthwhile, particularly with black and white bulls, or, late maturing breeds who would normally continue growing their frame into the finishing period,” she adds.

Feed costs will appear to be higher initially but these will be outweighed by taking advantage of improved feed conversion efficiency and better quality finish, reducing likelihood of penalties for missing specification, reducing finishing times and overall reduced feeding costs.

“It’s vital that farmers consider the role that early life nutrition has to play in producing livestock that meets the needs of the market place, otherwise they could be in a position where they’re being penalised,” concludes Bethany.


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