Producers failing to balance beef finishing rations could risk slowing growth by 90kg per day.
This could potentially add seven days to finishing time and reduce margins over feed by £39 per head, according to figures from a Harper Adams University trial comparing dairy-bred bulls finished on a traditional barley-based diet with those on one containing a balanced energy supply.
KW nutritionist Dr Anna Sutcliffe said: “Over-relying on high starch, low protein feeds such as potatoes or cereals overloads the rumen, undermines feed efficiency and increases the cost of each kg of liveweight gain.”
Dr Sutcliffe said incorrectly balanced rations make it difficult to achieve the level of finish needed to meet typical supermarket supply contracts. She said the key is to balance the starch in the ration with additional fibre.
“Use ad lib straw to supply structural fibre, and wheat-gluten moist feed, brewers’ grains or draff to supply digestible fibre and maintain ration energy levels,” said Dr Sutcliffe.
“Moist feeds also boost intakes and bind the ration together, further improving nutrient supply to the rumen.
“If extra protein is needed, consider high protein liquids which offer good value and add palatability.
“The starch-to-sugars ratio should be kept to around 3:1, plus live yeast to help control acidosis if total ration starch-plus-sugars is over 30 per cent.”