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Tips for Cattle At Grass



 

  

 

Beef At Grass 

Chris Lavis, Red Meat Team

As I write this article about beef cattle at grass, I can’t but help to refer to the extreme weather we have endured recently. Two falls of snow in March has not helped grass growth. Grazed grass is the cheapest feed you have on your farm and managed well, it can help reduce input costs for growing and finishing cattle.
 

Here are a few pointers for beef cattle at grass:
 

1. Younger and smaller cattle do not have the capacity to eat large volumes of grass, especially if it is wet or of poorer quality (see example below). These cattle may need a small amount of concentrate to keep growth rates consistent.

The table below shows what a beef animal must eat in kilos of fresh grass for maintenance (to live) and to put on 1kg of live weight (DLWG). Grass energy levels (ME) are across

the top of the table and grass dry matters are down the left-hand side. The table shows requirements for three different sized animals. For example, if the grass is 10.5 ME and is 12% dry matter, a 300kg animal would need to eat 60.5kg of fresh grass. Can the animal eat that quantity of grass?

 

2. Do not forget minerals for beef cattle at grass. Very little of an animal’s requirement is met by grazed grass alone.
 

3. Have a health plan. Which wormer is appropriate for the grazing management system that you use? Some manufacturers say that their products can only be used when the cattle are set stocked. Please seek advice from your vet or speak to an SQP at your local Mole Valley Farmers store. Also, do not forget about fly control. A beef animal worried by flies does not eat, so does not gain weight.
 

4. If you are feeding concentrates to your cattle, a good guide is 0.5kg of concentrate per 100kg of animal live weight, if they are grazing high quality, early season grass. This can be increased later in the year, as grass quality falls away. This is only a guide and does depend on the quality of grass, breed of animal and target growth rate.
 

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 Newsletter 648



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