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TheBeefSite Newsletter - 15 January 2014

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Wednesday 15th January 2014.
Michael Priestley - Editor

Michael Priestley

Novus International

MSD Animal Health

Attention to Detail on Forage Pays Off

Five weanling heifers that returned home from market in Ireland last summer after poor trade offer beef farmers a valuable lesson about young continental cattle.

Last August, five heifers from a Teagasc monitored farm in Ireland were sent to market, only to be grown on until 4 December, earning €265/head more.

The Agriculture and Food Development Authority (Teagasc) reported the heifers averaged 344.8 kilos on market day at €2.12/kilos and around 490 kilos when they sold at €4.31/kilos three months later.

The heifers were put on grass and offered 1-2 kilos of meal until mid-October, from which point it was increased to 6 kilos until 7 November.

Ad lib meal was then given at grass via the creep feeder, meaning the heifers consumed 540 kilos of meal at €140 per head. Reasonable fat scores and conformation profiles were achieved.

Teagasc Beef Cattle experts said there is much to learn about the difficult business of finishing young continentals but that the albeit small trial shows farmers that; 

  • Young animals are hugely efficient when managed well on concentrate;
  • Animals that are attaining a good level of thrive throughout their lifetime can be slaughtered at a young age and attain an adequate fat cover;
  • It is important to know the value of your stock on the day of sale.

More seasonal feed advice has been offered by the University of Georgia in the US, targeted at the state’s cow/calf producers.

The virtues of forage brassicas as winter forage have been shown in field trials at the University, showing producers that the perennial issue of Bermuda grass dying back in the fall has a solution.

Plants like Kale are hardy through winter, re-emerging in spring and are a ‘great fit’ in Georgia, according to Extension Specialist Dennis Hancock.

Speaking to farmers at an open farm day, he explained that high protein and carbohydrate content can result in around 2 pounds weight gain through winter, possibly reaching 2.6 pounds.

However, he has advised people to be watchful of low fibre and high sulphur content, especially when no other forage is available.

Best practice in Georgia is to plant brassicas in September and early October, allowing 60 to 75 days growth before cattle begin grazing.

Mr Hancock added that ‘Appin’ and ‘Pasja’ are good Turnip varieties to look out for as they are bred for pasture use.

The process helps old compacted pastures, releasing nitrogen slowly and providing natural nematicides, he concluded. 

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This Week's Articles and Analysis

Looking At How the Best Feeders Do It
Macpherson County Feeders talk with Certified Angus Beef (CAB) Brand about how they drove towards goals and become a CAB partner.

Turnips, Kale and Other Greens Used to Extend Grazing on Georgia Pastures
Hardiness through winter and quick spring recovery makes Brassicas an ideal plant to turn to for winter forage, but watch out for the high sulfur content, warns a University of Georgia forage specialist.

Be Prepared for Calving Season
Attention should be turning to in-calf heifers to ensure cows enter calving with body score conditions of five to six.

Continental Won't Finish At a Young Age - Or Will They?
Young cattle can be finished cost-effectively on concentrate, providing management is good, Teagasc advisers have revealed.

Market Reports

GB Animal Feed Statistical Notice - November 2013
EBLEX Cattle Weekly - 10 January 2014
USDA WASDE - 10 January 2014

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