Farmers are well aware of the cost of the winter feed period. In parts of the west and north-west, weanlings are already beginning to be housed. This can mean a feeding period in excess of 180 days in some cases. It is therefore important to optimise the winter growth performance of growing cattle in the shed. However, knowing what rate animals should be growing at in the shed depends on many factors – feed availability and costs, target sale date, housing space or stocking rate, as well as labour availability.

In 2012, as part of my PhD thesis work in Teagasc Grange, we undertook a winter feeding trial, looking at different winter growth rates for weanling bulls destined to return to pasture for grazing the following spring for 100 days, prior to a 80- to 100-day finishing period indoors on ad-lib meal.