Farmers operating an autumn-calving herd that slaughter bulls under 16 months of age should think about housing these animals this week.
Once housed, bulls can be built up to ad-lib levels of concentrate feeding, helping animals hit the correct level of fat cover before slaughter.
With last year’s bulls coming up on 11 to 12 months of age, these animals have 90 to 120 days left before they have to be offloaded.
They will have done their growing by now, so the final feeding phase is all about getting energy into the animals. Grazed grass will not have the energy content to fatten bulls.
Once housed, opt for a ration with barley and maize as the first two ingredients on the formulation inclusion list.
Do not go for a high-protein ration, as this will only encourage bulls to put on lean muscle, not fat cover. Protein in the ration should be kept below 14%, but ideally below 13%.
Start bulls on 5kg to 6kg/day of the finishing ration once housed, but make sure to split this allocation over a morning and evening feed.
Offer plenty of fresh straw for fibre and ensure there is always fresh water available. As a rule of thumb, for every 1kg of meal fed, bulls will drink one litre of water.
Build up to ad-lib levels by increasing meal levels offered by 1kg/head every four to five days. Once bulls hit ad-lib levels, make sure that feed troughs never run empty.