Why low protein feed is better for finishing cattle on autumn grass?

Autumn grass has excess protein in the order of 22% and therefore meal does not need to be high in protein, according to Teagasc.

In fact high-energy, low protein concentrates are the ideal supplement for autumn grass, it says.

Teagasc says finishing cattle need to be kept performing at a minimum of 1kg live weight per day and as they move into the final finishing phase they require a diet of increasing energy.

It says grass alone in the autumn cannot provide the energy to give a live weight gain of over 0.8kg per day.

This means even in the best conditions, meal is needed to get the live weight gain up to 1kg/day or slightly better.

Therefore with good quality grass, feed at least 3kg of meal a day and where supply is limited or quality is less than excellent you should go to 6kg/day. Once you have to go above 6kg per day it may be as well to go indoors on an ad libitum concentrate diet.

Grass in October

Teagasc advises putting a simple plan in place now to have good quality grass available in October.

Under Nitrates regulations, nitrogen cannot be spread after September 15.

In any case, Teagasc research shows the response to nitrogen declines rapidly in September.

On heavily stocked farms, it says to continue spreading nitrogen as paddocks are grazed out up until the end of August. This will ensure high quality grass into mid October.

Even though farmers currently may have 20 days grass ahead, which is fine for now, Teagasc says to keep spreading nitrogen as the length of rotation will increase to 35 days from mid September.

It advises that from mid August, farmers should not take out heavy covers as bales. Try to get these grazed out in the rotation and spread nitrogen afterwards.

Lime is a first step in tackling soil fertility on all drystock farms and Irish farmers tend to spread lime in the autumn.