Dairy Calf to beef targets

Given the tight margins in beef finishing, it is more important than ever to ensure that all animals are putting on weight. Feeding animals during the winter months on silage and meal is expensive, so you need to make sure your animals are performing.

There have been some new ventures down the dairy beef route, and these weanlings need minding over the next few months to make sure they hit target weights.

Keeping these animals for long store periods will rise costs and reduce your margin.

Dairy beef weanling bulls should weigh around 250kg at this stage, with heifers at 225kg. Aiming for a 100 day winter and a target weight gain of .7kg/day over this period, animals should be turning back out at 300-320kg early next spring.

Make sure that all dosing is up to date for fluke and worms. This week’s beef page (p41) looks at an increase in the incidence of rumen fluke, with some reports of more cases in dairy beef bred stock as opposed to other cattle.

If there have been pneumonia issues in the past, vaccination should be looked at, ideally before housing, but it’s not too late if already housed. These weanlings should be fed the best quality silage on the farm.

Feeding 70DMD + silage will reduce the amount of concentrates required, along with a 14% protein ration with good ingredients like barley, maize distillers or beet pulp.

They should be fed 2kg/head/day for the next two months.

Aim to reduce meal feeding in late January in advance of turnout in February/March to achieve some compensatory growth. Make sure they have adequate space to lie and feed.

A supply of clean fresh water is also very important.


Early supplementation of minerals to spring calving suckler cows is important to avoid any calving issues. If feeding powder minerals, make sure all cows have access to feed space. Feeding half rate twice a day can help ensure that all cows are getting enough.

A pre calving mineral should have 0% calcium, around 4% phosphorus, around 13% sodium and around 17% magnesium.

It should also have all the major trace elements including Vitamin E. Dry cow minerals should be fed for 6-8 weeks out from calving, so late January calving cows should be supplemented from now on.

Don’t forget about supplementing autumn calving cows with minerals as well.

Teagasc Beef Conference

The annual Teagasc beef conference takes place on Tuesday 21 November in the Shearwater hotel, Balinasloe Co Galway.

The first session, titled “Implementing sustainable technologies on beef farms” kicks off at 5pm, with Paul Crosson outlining the proposed changes to the ICBF beef indexes, Ellen Fitzpatrick on low input, high output dairy beef systems and Dr Maria Guelbenzu on IBR in beef herds.

The second session is titled “Increasing our competitive advantage on the global stage” and will include Dr Siobhán Kavanagh on steps that beef farmers can use to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from their farms, Anaïs L’hôte on how farmers can be paid to reduce their carbon footprint and Rupert Claxton on global beef markets.