Coping with higher 2010 ration prices
On average, ration prices are costing from €50 to €70 per tonne more than last year. In general, the standard beef ration deliver in bulk is costing from €220 to €250/t per tonne. What makes the situation even more difficult is the uncertainty over where prices will go after Christmas when an increasing number of mills will become exposed to on the spot prices for straights.
Earlier this week, I talked to nutritionists Paul Mooney and Pat McCarthy about what advice they were giving to their clients.
Paul Mooney,nutritionist withTrouw Nutrition
Merits of including maizemeal in the diet
Paul accepts that in straight energy terms, maize meal is currently over-priced compared to barley. However, he believes that it still has a role in intensively fed rations at an inclusion rate of up to 30%. Paul has found that where maize meal is substituted for other energy sources, animal performance levels have suffered.
Citrus versus Soya hulls
Paul certainly comes down on the side of Soya hulls. He maintains that in the case of intensively fed diets, soya hulls is a much better source of fibre than citrus pulp and delivers a much better buffering effect.
Views on bread
At around £130/t (€150/t) delivered, he sees bread as having a role to play in finishing diets. In general terms, Paul views bread as being worth around 80% the value of barley.
In relation to inclusion rates, he has no problem with feeding up to 5kg per head per day but warns that a slow build up period and good feeding management is critical. In the cases where clients are feeding high levels of bread, Paul recommends reducing the level of barley in the diet and replacing it with maize meal.
He would also advise increasing the inclusion rate of soya hulls in the diet. He sees bread as an excellent feed for getting a good finish on cattle.
Role of maize silage and fodder beet
Paul is reporting very good crops of maize silage this year. The analysis that he has seen so far show starch levels close to 35% with dry matter also in the region of 35%. Where this high quality maize has been grown on farm, it is allowing finishers to insulate themselves from the high priced cereal market.
In relation to fodder beet, Paul's view is that at over €35/t it is hard to justify it in a finishing diet. He says that some farmers are paying up to €50/t delivered.
The need for feed additives
Paul is of the view that if the diet is correctly balanced, the build up period is slow and feeding management is of a high standard, then feed additives are not necessary. He views their inclusion in the ration as an additional insurance policy.
Warning on wheat
Paul is warning farmers against feeding high levels of wheat to finishing cattle. His advice is not to go above 1.5-2kg per head per day.
Pat McCarthy, DSMNutritionalServices
Merits of including maize meal in the diet
Again, despite the question mark over the cost of maize meal relative to rolled barley, Pat also sees it as having a role in intensive finishing diets, especially in the case of young bulls.
With energy density critical to performance in these young animals, Pat also includes vegetable fats such a palm oil or Megalac in the mix.
Soya hulls versus Citrus
Again, Soya hulls are identified as a much better source of fibre than citrus pulp. According to Pat, citrus pulp is too fermentable and increases the acid load in the rumen.
Role of maize silage and fodder beet
Similar to Paul, Pat is coming across a lot of excellent quality maize silage. He sees home grown maize silage as one of the most cost effective feeds this winter.
He views fodder beef as being over-priced with some farmers paying up to €44/t. In his view, anything over €35/t is over-priced. He also sees home treated cereals as representing good value for money highlighting. Barely treated with Alkagrain at 13-14% protein is currently trading for €230 to €235/t.
Where available, Pat is including 10-12kg of maize silage in finishing diets.
Pat sees merit in the inclusion of feed additives in the diet on the basis that they increase intake and ensure cattle remain on a consistent feeding pattern.
One of the key factors he highlights as actually disrupting the regular feeding pattern and limiting intakes of animals on intensive feeding diets is lack of water.
He sees it as critical that animals have access to an adequate supply of fresh water at all times.
Pat reports a significant drop in the phosphorus level of grass silage. He is advising clients feeding cows and young stock on ad-lib silage diets to offer a high phosphorus lick.
He is also warning farmers feeding maize silage or fodder beet against trying to cut corners by not feeding a high phosphorus mineral.
In the beef ration, Pat is including a beef mineral with 3% phosphorus.
Pat is also coming across a lot of problems with animals not thriving due to rumen fluke.