High feed conversion efficiency key to finishing cattle

Achieving a good feed conversion efficiency is essential in beef finishing according to Pat McCambridge a beef advisor with the College of Agriculture, Food and Rural Enterprise (CAFRE) in Northern Ireland.

McCambridge says feed efficiency deteriorates as cattle get older and heavier and this usually applies to cattle above 650kg or animals producing carcases above 380 kg.

He advises that to achieve a good feed efficiency feed high quality silage, along with a ration balanced in terms of energy, protein, minerals and vitamins.

“Improve the rumination of animals on high feed levels which contain a high starch content by providing a source of long fibre, for example, 150 mm chopped straw, ” he said.

McCambridge also says that environmental conditions such as a continuous source of clean water, comfortable, clean lying surfaces and efficient ventilation are also important.

He stresses that if the correct cattle ration is fed to animals farmers should see very little recognisable feed in the dung.

Interstingly McCambridge also pointed out that farmers should take time to observe the cattle. He said 80% of cattle not sleeping, eating or drinking should be ruminating (cudding).

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