Under-finished animals are causing beef farmers to lose up to £51 per beast due to poor forage quality, but this could be rectified by increasing the energy content of the diet, according to Martin Smith of Ufac-UK.
“The latest report from Northern Ireland’s Livestock and Meat Commission shows a continuing trend for carcasses to be under-finished — with a six percent reduction in steers classified in fat classes 4 and 5 with a six percent increase in classes 1 and 2,” said Smith. Dropping from U3 to U2 potentially reduces carcass value by 6p per kilogram, or 22p per kilogram if the beast drops to U1.
Energy levels in forage — due to the poor growing season throughout the UK in 2012 — have been significantly down and cereals have also suffered from lower bushel weights affecting the energy from starch.
“This report confirms the effect that diet quality is having on carcass grading,” said Smith. But energy levels of the diet can be boosted by adding a fat supplement, such as a Ufac product, Megajule, he said. “Assuming a 12 kg dry-matter intake and a 1 MJ/Kg deficit per kg there would be a need to replace 12 MJ,” said Smith. “This could be supplied by feeding 600 g (1.25 lb.) of the supplement per day for the 50-day finishing period. At around £16.50 per animal this is highly cost-effective, giving a return on investment of over 3:1.”