Have steers, heifers and young bulls that will be slaughtered in May or June enough feed and lying space as these animals enter the final intensive finishing period?
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 April. If bulls gain 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.
Finishing cattle should have a minimum space allocation of 2.5m2 on a slatted floor, increasing to at least 4m2 on a 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.
So, keep an eye on cattle behaviour from now on. If there are always a few animals standing, chances are that cattle are overstocked.
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.
Otherwise, dominant animals will eat more than their allocation. Less dominant animals will be underfed, slowing the rate they put on fat cover and delaying slaughter date.