It has been a tremendous grass growing season up to this point. Swards have responded well to the optimal mix of sunshine and rain that has been the feature of our weather over recent weeks.
Increasingly, beef finishers across Northern Ireland are striving to make best use of grass in the diets of their animals. A case in point is Lawrence Hamill, who farms with his brother John on the outskirts of Magheralin in Co Down.
“We buy in store bullocks and bring them through to finishing weights over a 12 month period,” he said.
“Our aim is to get as many of the animals finished during the grazing season. We have found that cattle finished at this time of the year have higher killing out percentages.
“Yes, the cattle receive meal during the last 90 days on the farm. But it’s all about getting as much performance from forage as possible.”
However, grass alone will not provide growing cattle with a balanced plane of nutrition.
David Morgan, from Caltech Crystalyx, was a recent visitor to the Hamill farm.
He said that supplementing grazed grass and silage with Crystalyx Cattle Booster can significantly and economically improve animal performance, adding:
“Independent trial work carried out at Newcastle University has shown that Cattle Booster increases the rate of forage digestion by rumen bacteria (by up to 10%). This stimulates grass intakes due to a reduced gut fill effect, increasing grass intake rather than replacing it.”
David pointed out that Cattle Booster also increases forage digestibility (D value), so animals actually get more energy out of what they eat.
“These benefits continue throughout the grazing season, as long as forage supplies remain plentiful. Even autumn grass D value was improved by feeding Cattle Booster, by an average of 6.8% - and increasing D value by six units effectively increases forage energy content by 1MJ/kg dry matter.”
A trial undertaken at Aberystwyth University with 240kg growing heifers on late summer/autumn grass, showed that free access to Cattle Booster Cattle Booster increased daily liveweight gains by 27% over control heifers. Cattle Booster intakes averaged 108g/heifer/day.
“Cattle Booster provides all the minerals, trace elements and vitamins needed to balance grass, which is essential for optimum animal performance and health,” said Morgan.
“But the rumen bugs also need minerals to help them digest the grass and the little and often trickle feeding system supplied by Cattle Booster is an ideal method of ensuring this.
“Cattle Booster also provides a concentrated source of sugar. This is important to help maintain rumen digestive efficiency.”