Room for rolled oats in finishing diets?

Researchers at Teagasc Grange have recently looked at the effects of replacing rolled barley with rolled oats in a supplement on intake, growth, carcass and selected meat quality traits of late-maturing steers.

Over a 134-day finishing period, animals were housed in pens in a slatted-floor shed and offered grass silage (dry matter digestibility of 713/kg) ad-lib plus 4kg dry matter (in two feeds) daily of one of two concentrate supplements. Both concentrates were prepared as coarse mixtures.

The barley-based supplement or the ‘control’ contained: 862g of rolled barley; 60g soya bean meal; 50g molasses; and 28g minerals and vitamins per kilogram of fresh weight. The second contained: 853g rolled oats; 70g soya bean meal; 50g molasses; and 27g of minerals and vitamins per kilogram of fresh weight.

Results

According to the work, replacing barley with oats in the concentrate supplement had no effect on silage dry matter intake; average daily live weight gain; feed conversion ratio; slaughter and carcass weight; kill-out proportion; ultrasonic measures of body muscle and fat gain; and carcass conformation and carcass fat score.

Muscle colour, pH and drop loss – along with subcutaneous fat colour – did not differ between the two concentrates.

In conclusion, Teagasc found under the conditions of this experiment, rolled oats can replace rolled barley in a concentrate supplement to high-digestibility grass silage without negatively affecting performance or selected meat quality traits of beef cattle.

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