On beef farms where steers, heifers and young bulls will be finished in May or June, have animals enough housing space before they final intensive finishing period?

Having one animal too many in a pen may not seem like a big deal. But liveweight gain will suffer at a time when animals are on their maximum concentrate intake.

Take a group of eight bulls weighing 580kg on 1 March. If bulls are gaining 1.5kg/day, the group gains 84kg of liveweight each week.

After seven weeks, the combined weight gain by the group is the equivalent of adding one extra animal to the pen and can leave pens overstocked.

Lying space

Finishing cattle should have a minimum space allocation of 2.5m2 on a slatted floor, increasing to at least 4m2 on as straw-bedded court.

When it comes to lying space, all finishing cattle should be able to lie comfortably at the same time in the pen.

Keep an eye on cattle behaviour from now on. If there are always a few animals standing, chances are that cattle are overstocked.

Feed space

Equally, can all finishing animals access concentrates at the feed barrier at the same time?

As cattle move on to higher concentrate levels, every animal should be able to eat at the same time unless using an ad-lib feeder.

Otherwise, dominant animals will eat more than their meal allocation. Less dominant animals will be underfed, delaying slaughter date.

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