Finishing cattle: With the prospects of higher feed costs this winter, beef finishers should look at the possibility of slaughtering some animals off grass over the next few weeks.

Within every group of finishing cattle, there will be cattle closer to slaughter.

In an ideal world, these animals would be pulled out and fed a little meal at grass.

Some will say that you don’t need meal, but I’m a firm believer in a small amount of meal even for four to six weeks out from slaughter.

It will firm up cattle, put a level of finish on them and help kill out. Cattle killing off grass tend to have a yellow fat, which some people say will grade higher for fat on the mechanical grading machine. Feeding meal will pull this colour back from yellow to a whiter or cream colour, which may come in at a lower score.

A very simple barley-based ration will suffice. Cattle don’t need a lot of protein at grass and 4-5kg/day will be fine. Try to feed early in the morning to avoid cattle hanging around troughs all day waiting for meal to come.

Tetany: I have heard of a number of tetany cases in the last week on farms around the country. It is unusual, because weather conditions have been very good. There has been a surge in growth over the last two weeks and sometimes when this happens, the lush swards being grazed are deficient in magnesium. Lick buckets are a quick fix and can be put out straight away as a preventative measure. Trying to minimise stress at weaning time can also help prevent cases. Feeding hay, calmag in meal or giving cows boluses will also help prevent any cases occurring.

THRIVE Dairy Beef Webinar: This Thursday night sees the first in a series of beef webinars taking place over the autumn and winter months on The first one is on our THRIVE dairy beef demonstration farm. Some of the 2020-born cattle have been slaughtered and we will have the most up-to-date slaughter performance, including figures on the profitability of different animals slaughtered so far. We will be discussing some of the challenges with the system, finishing weights and specifications and will also visit a factory to see the animals hanging up to talk about hitting the right spec and what that looks like. The webinar will take place at 8pm this Thursday 9 September on You can get involved on the night by emailing your questions to or WhatsApp them to 086-836 6465. Questions will be answered live on the night.

Irish Beef and Sheep Farmer Magazine: The livestock team have put together another great Irish Beef and Sheep Farmer magazine this year. This year’s magazine focuses on family farms and taps into areas such as farm succession, planning and how some farm families have perfected the art of working together as a team. There are some really nice stories included from farms and counties all over Ireland. It is on sale in all good newsagents.