Maximising daily live weight gain from forage

“Research carried out by the Scottish Agricultural College showed that daily liveweight gain increases of up to 0.82 kilos will be achieved by feeding good quality silage with an ME of 12 as opposed to offering poor quality forages at ME of 9.6, cut approx. 3 weeks apart” Provita’s Tommy Armstrong explained.

Detailed analysis carried out by Provita, using mini-silo tests and AFBI prediction equations, has confirmed the added benefit of using the company’s new Advance+ inoculant in growing cattle.

“The good news for beef farmers is that by committing to produce high quality silage, and including the utilisation of Advance+ as part of this regime, extra growth rates of between 12% to 17% were predicted in the 2015 mini silo tests analysed at AFBI.

“Using this fundamental data we have applied the AFBI prediction equations in order to identify how the best balance of profitability and weight gain that can be achieved from 500 kilo beef animal over 180 days.

“In 2015 the analysis calculated extra gross profit margin from weight gain based on silage only of £40 per head for the 180 days. With the cost of the inoculant only £6.21 per head this would represent a return of c. 6 to 1.”

Tommy went on to point out that beef farmers must strive to produce better quality silages if they want to do all they can to improve efficiency to counteract poor prices.

“Obviously, this means making first cut silage that little bit earlier in the season.  In order to keep silage quantities at current levels, this may well entail taking 10 to 20% from the grazing block and ensuring that the first cut areas is treated with slurry and fertiliser as early in the growing season as possible and when weather conditions allow and soil temperature is high enough.

“Re-seeding and improving sward management must also be considered. Research has shown that re-seeded swards will produce an additional 4 tonnes of forage dry matter per hectare per year.”

“Farmers planning to make these changes for 2016 need to start implementing these plans now.”