Sponsored by the South Devon Herd Book Society, Harper Adams University is currently running a feed project to evaluate the replacement of concentrates with a high energy forage.
With the help of the Society, a group of 34 steers born in Spring 2017 were sourced in the autumn from W J Wright & Sons’ Oxey herd in Tilton-on-the-Hill, Leicestershire. The herd has a high health status and is Breedplan performance recorded and predominantly uses top 10% index or better sires.
The steers have been allocated by liveweight and sire to one of two experimental finishing treatments which are fed ad lib:
- Cereals: 13% crude protein (150g CP/kg DM) concentrates based on rolled barley, sugar beet pulp, soyabean meal, distiller dark grains, molasses and minerals containing approximately 36 starch in the dry matter and fed via hoppers.
- Maize Silage + Cereals: TMR (formulated to contain 150g CP/kg DM) based on 50% good quality maize silage on a DM basis with 50% DM from concentrates formulated from rolled barley, soyabean meal, distiller dark grains and minerals.
The cattle are weighed monthly, with an average start weight of 378kg at the end of November. Three months later they averaged 502kg at approximately 11 months old, having recorded a DLWG over 85 days of 1.46 kg.
The trial will run into the early summer months, and already there is a difference in cattle performance between the two diets.
Simon Marsh, Principal Lecturer and Beef Cattle Specialist at Harper Adams commented, “I’m very pleased with the performance of the South Devons, especially since they are steers and not young bulls. Our target is a 350kg carcase at 14-15 months old.”