NWF Agriculture has the ability to maximise production while minimising cost as a result of the large range of high-quality raw materials and feed supplements available.
With so many variations of system, animal type and market requirements it is impossible to be specific and brief at the same time. However, regardless of those factors there are some points that are key to rearing and finishing cattle effectively.
Get a good start: Early life growth is key to achieving good early feed conversion efficiency
Ensure sufficient colostrum intakes of good quality colostrum – use a refractometer to determine a minimum of 50 IgG/litre.
Whether your own or are buying in, check calves have a healthy dry navel, are alert and bright eyed and showing good confirmation.
Achieve pre-weaning growth rates of at least 0.8kg/h/d.
Encourage early concentrate intakes and always offer clean fresh water and chopped straw.
Guide to growing: Key points
Rearing growth rates should average greater than 1.0kg/h/d.
Intakes will be relative to the animal’s weight, approx. 2–2.5% liveweight.
Recognise dam and sire breed to determine the potential frame and conformation, e.g. early maturing domestic breeds may require a longer growing period compared to a larger continental breed.
Protein is required during the rearing period for metabolism and frame growth, particularly pre puberty. Typically, 15%–17% protein is required.
Growing rations should be high in fibre, with moderate ME and starch. High levels of starch are not recommended as this can lead to unwanted fat deposition, especially in early maturing breeds.
Ensure a good quality mineral is used to help energy metabolism, growth and vitality.
Fundamentals for finishing: Key points
This period typically grows the final 100–150kg of weight on a significantly more concentrated diet.
Finished growth rates should average greater than 1.2kg/h/d.
Intakes will be relative to the animal’s weight, approx. 2% liveweight.
Dietary proteins can drop to approx. 12%.
Rapid weight gain requires feeding high cereal-based rations, starch level must rise to a minimum of 20% but ideally closer to 35%.
Ensure a minimum of 10% structural fibre is added to stabilise rumen function.
Consider offering rock salt or a rumen buffer such as Sodium Bicarbonate or Acid Buf.
by Charlotte Clifton, NWF Sales Specialist