Beef Em Up, Sell Em Up & Pocket Up

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Case Study – Finishing Steers Well on a Crushed Grain, Beef Custom Mix                   by James & Sue Taylor of “Barakee”, Sth West Victoria. 

— All pictures of the next group of cattle to go on sale in July. First introduced to grain on April 18.

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Barakee Steers hoovering our Beef Custom Mix

Feeding Reid Stockfeeds crushed grain mix was an experiment to test out whether it was economically viable to feed cattle in the current environment. Commencing in mid-February with a ration formulated by Chloe, cattle were grown out for 60 days on a Reid Stockfeeds custom beef mix plus white clover/cocksfoot hay. Prior to grain feeding, steers had been on grass only. Grain intake was increased gradually over 3 weeks until the steers were ad lib consuming 7-8kgs/head/day.

In the Warrnambool mid-April prime sale, the cattle topped their class on that sale – 400kg liveweight British Breed steers.

Estimated grain cost $150/head

Gain in value of steer $300/head

Prior estimate $2.10-2.15/kg liveweight

End value $2.42/kg liveweight @ 400kgs

Feeding grain lifted the base value per kg of steer prior to feeding, as well as the weight gain (+100-120kgs). Gain in value was attributed to a combination of increasing weight to meet prime market specification and the lift in beef prices over those 2 months.

The Reid Stockfeeds crushed grain is very appealing to steers and it was easy to adjust them on to it, especially cattle that had never seen grain previously and were very rarely hand fed hay prior to entry.

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Any chance a steer can feed in peace?

Herefords are natural foragers and are the hardest breed of cattle to adjust onto grain, but I’ve had no issues getting them to take to it. The Angus take to it like ducks to water!

The main reason I grain-feed my cattle is to maximise profit and finish them to meet prime cattle specifications.

Grain-feeding opportunities now:

  • Maximising profit by a quick weight gain
  • Reflect the requirements of the meat processing industry which is paying more per kg for heavier prime cattle than lighter cattle
  • Cattle can be finished and sold before prime grass-fed cattle hit the market from Northern SA and Riverina

What’s next?

The aim is to sell the next group of cattle started on grain mid-April in July. This also means that by a % reduction in cattle on grass on farm, I can substantially reduce the need to feed hay to replacement heifers, cows and calves. Reducing stocking rate in this way has been advantageous given the dry spring ’14 to autumn ’15 that Southwest Victoria has experienced.

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