Megajule helps improve beef finish

“To improve margins it will be essential to ensure animals finish quickly and hit the specification for age, weight and fat class. Diet is fundamental to achieving these.”

Megajule helps improve beef finish

With the ongoing requirement for lower finished carcass weights, increasing the proportion of rumen-inert fatty acids in the diets of finishing beef cattle can have a significant impact on growth rates and carcase grading as David Bonsall of UFAC UK explains.

“Many dairy farmers have moved into keeping a few beef cattle to maximise the value of the calf crop and give a secondary income stream,” David comments. “To improve margins it will be essential to ensure animals finish quickly and hit the specification for age, weight and fat class. Diet is fundamental to achieving these.”

He explains that while all beef producers understand the importance of increasing energy intakes in the finishing period, fewer appreciate the importance of feeding a balance of energy sources, particularly the crucial role of fatty acids.

The table shows ration guidelines for growing and finishing cattle. In the later finishing stages, it is essential to increase the energy density of the diet to allow higher growth rates to be maintained from larger animals.

Alongside higher sugars, starch and reduced protein, EBLEX specifically recommend increasing from a maximum 3% fat content in the diets for rearing cattle, to a maximum of 6% for finishing animals. In most cases farmers meet the guidelines of increasing the proportion of starches and sugars while reducing the crude protein content.

However, fewer appreciate the benefits of increasing the dietary fat content. “With finishing weights being reduced, we hear that many farmers are struggling to get cattle to finish on high starch diets. At the same time, higher starch brings an increased risk of acidosis which will reduce dry matter intakes and growth rates. The correct fat sources can have a tremendous role to play here.”

David explains that fatty acids are higher in energy than any other feed ingredient for beef diets, with over two and a half times the net energy content of cereals, and so will increase energy density. When rumen-inert fatty acids are used there is no rumen acid loading, meaning they support higher total energy and dry matter intakes.

“The target energy density for rearing animals is 10.5-11.4MJ/kgDM, while for finishers it should be in excess of 12.2MJ/kgDM. Rumen-inert fatty acids like Megajule mean this can be achieved cost-effectively without compromising rumen health.

“Rumen–inert fatty acids are utilised in the small intestine. Megajule contains C18:1 Oleic acid, which increases the efficiency of digestion of the whole diet in the small intestine, improving overall feed efficiency and supporting higher feed conversion.”

Improved grading

David says the other benefit is that increasing the levels of dietary fat will improve the level of carcass grading. While there is less demand for marbling, processors still require a level of sub-cutaneous fat. He explains that for carcase finish, fat in equals fat out.

“Feeding a higher level of dietary fat leads to a better carcass grading, which combined with faster growth rates and reduced days to slaughter can have significant financial benefits.”

All round benefits

UFAC Megajule is a unique blend of specially selected rumen-inert fatty acids, which is perfect for beef cattle. It contains the essential fatty acids Linoleic and Linolenic, plus EPA and DHA from marine sources along with Oleic acid, which ensure a balanced fatty acid profile to maximise feed conversion, DLWG and total energy supply. Megajule is a palatable, friable meal, which can reduce dust from processed cereals and is ideal for inclusion in all diets.

“In a finishing diet, include 100g of Megajule per 100kg liveweight, reducing cereals by a similar amount. So for a 500kg animal, 500g of Megajule should be fed with cereals reduced by 500g. The impact on cost would be around 23p/day, assuming cereals are costed at £130/tonne.

“For a 90 day finishing period, the additional cost is around £20/animal but this will soon be recovered by reduced days to slaughter, better feed conversion and improved carcase grade. With seven days less to slaughter and a 5p/kg lift in price received, which are both realistic expectations, the increased income will be around £30 for a 340kg animal, giving a 50% return on investment.”

 

Growing cattle

Controlled frame

growth

Finishing cattle

Short period on

max DLWG

Dry matter intake  2.3% of bodyweight 2% of bodyweight
Growth rate  0.7-1.3kgLWG/day  >1.4kgLWG/day
Crude protein in DM 14-16% 12-15%
Energy content (ME in DM)  10.5-11.4MJ/kgDM >12.3MJ/kgDM
Fibre (NDF) content in DM  >40%  >25%
Fat content in DM  <3% <6%
Starch and sugars  <20%  >33%

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