Barley-based feed delivers results, Teagasc suckler bull research finds.
Researchers at Teagasc, Grange has been investigating bull production systems.
Spring-born, late maturing suckled bulls, typically seven to eight months old and weighing 340-350kg live weight, were purchased in October and November and placed on three finishing systems.
One lot got an ad lib concentrate diet (plus about 1.5kg of grass silage dry matter).
They reached their target weights (370, 410 and 450kg carcasses) at 14.5, 16 and 17 months, respectively. They earned the lowest profit margin.
Another lot were stored for about 120 days on good quality grass silage supplemented with 1.5 to 2kg of concentrate per day) and then placed on an ad lib concentrate diet.
They reached their target weights (370, 410 and 450kg carcasses) at 16, 17 and 18 months, respectively.
The third lot were stored for the winter and turned out to pasture for about three months, then they were re-housed and finished on ad lib concentrates.
They were 17.5, 18.5 and 21 months old when they reached their target carcass weights. They earned the highest profit margin.
The trial showed that carcass weight approaching 400kg can be achieved at 16 months of age, when suckler bulls are finished on an all-concentrate diet.
Following a store period, bulls can reach 370kg, also at 16 months of age.
Bigger carcasses take longer to produce, and are thus older at slaughter.
All carcasses had adequate fat covers. The finishing concentrate was a barley-based (86%) ration.
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