The cost of concentrate rations has put many farmers off feeding meal to weanlings and stores over winter.

This is fine if silage has a DMD value above 70% and animals will go back to grass in early spring. But there are some groups that will benefit from meal feeding to drive weight gain.

Such groups include maiden heifers that will go to the bull next May and June, as well as stores that are destined for selling live in March or April.


One option for meal feeding is to front load concentrates in the first half of the housing period, before tapering off as grazing or sale date draws closer.

The main advantages of front loading meal is that younger cattle are more efficient feed converters, cattle are more likely to be on target for weight gain by mid-winter and animals going back to grass will not be over conditioned.

The other thing to keep in mind is that the same amount of meal is fed as in a standard flat rate method.

Meal levels

For example, if stores are normally fed at a flat rate of 2kg/day for 150 days, total meal consumed is 300kg/head.

With front loading, meal is fed at 3kg/day for the first 75 days then reduce to 1kg/day for the second 75 days. Cattle will still consume 300kg/head.

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