Suckler and dairy-bred bulls that were born during spring 2022 should now be coming fit for slaughter.

Offloading bulls below the 16-month age limit will help to increase market value, as will hitting specifications on carcase weight and fat cover.

Bulls will be most likely be on ad-lib concentrates at this point in the finishing period, consuming anywhere from 12kg to 15kg of meal per day.

Therefore, it is important bulls are marketed as soon as they reach a suitable fat cover. Check with your processor, as some will accept bulls at fat class 2+ without penalties, while others will not.

Handle weekly

Handle bulls weekly to monitor the level of fat cover, focusing mainly on the ribs, loin and around the tail head.

Holding animals in slaughter-fit condition just to increase carcase weight is a false economy.

Feed conversion will be declining and animals are more likely to exceed factory weight limits, thereby incurring penalties.

Feed costs

Take a group of bulls weighing 700kg liveweight and eating 12kg/head of concentrate on a daily basis.

If the ration costs €440/t, meal costs are €5.28/day for each bull. At a daily liveweight gain of 1.5kg/day and 59% kill-out, bulls are gaining 0.89kg/day of carcase.

At a beef price of €5.50/kg, bulls are generating an income of €4.90/day in terms of carcase value, almost 40c below the cost of feeding meal.

Straw, silage, electricity, water, diesel and labour are excluded and still have to be factored in on top of the outlined meal costs.