On farms where weanlings and store cattle will go back to grass next spring, it is likely that concentrates will be fed along with silage to boost liveweight gain.

While it will not suit every farm set-up, front loading the feeding of meal can be of benefit, particularly for maiden heifers with a target breeding weight to hit next spring.

Front loading meal means splitting the winter period into two equal time periods. A higher rate of meal is fed during the first half, before being reduced during the second half.

When carried out correctly, the same amount of meal will be fed with front loading as in a standard flat rate method.

Meal levels

For example, assuming stores are fed ration at a traditional flat rate of 2kg/day for 150 days, the total meal consumed will be 300kg/head.

By front loading meal for the first 75 days at a rate of 3kg/day, then reducing back to 1kg/day for the second 75 days, cattle will still consume 300kg/head.


The main advantage of front loading meal to groups such as maiden heifers is the higher rate of meal feeding early on should help animals hit target weight gain by mid-winter.

This is better than reaching mid-winter and finding animals are below target in terms of weight gain because of average or low quality silage or a health issue.

Another advantage of feeding the reduced meal level during the second half of the winter period is animals are less likely to be overfat, while also preparing them for the change to a fresh grass diet after turnout.

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