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Correct Rations of Good Quality Maize Silage Reduces Feed Costs in Dairy Bred Bulls

07 August 2012

Animal Bytes

A feed ratio of 75:25 good quality maize silage and concentrates fed to intensively finished dairy bulls reduces feed costs by 14 p/kg of gain compared to a 50:50 feed ratio, according to a trial that was carried out at Harper Adams University College in the UK, by Simon Marsh.

Increasing the concentrate feed ratio from 25% to 50% of dietary dry matter intake with bulls fed good quality maize silage had no significant effect on animal performance and increased feed costs.

“Maize silage is widely regarded as an ideal forage for finishing cattle and recent work found that the replacement of grass silage with maize silage for finishing beef cattle significantly improved performance,” he told delegates at the British Society of Animal Science annual conference.

Other work has found no significant differences in performance of steers finished on either ad lib. cereals or maize silage plus 3 kg cereals per head per day. But there is little information on the effect of feeding different levels of concentrates on the performance of bulls offered maize silage.

“So I set out to evaluate rations with low (25% of DM) or high (50% of DM) levels of concentrate supplementation on the performance of intensively finished dairy-bred bulls fed ad lib. maize silage,” Mr Marsh said.

36 Holstein bulls, weighing 224 kg at six months of age, were fed the following diets formulated to contain 140 g CP/kg DM ad lib. through to slaughter: 75:25 containing 750 kg/t DM good quality maize silage and 250kg/t DM concentrates; 50:50 containing 500 kg/t DM and 500 kg/t DM maize silage and concentrates.

Prior to the experiment the bulls were initially reared to six months old on a cereal beef system. The cattle were selected for slaughter at EUROP fat class 3.

“And we found that, overall, the bulls met recognised targets for silage beef production with slaughter weights of between 575 kg and 600 kg at around 15 months of age,” said Mr Marsh. “There were no significant differences between the effects of the treatments and the bulls finished on the 75:25 treatment recorded an increased margin over feed worth £52 per head with reduced feed costs per kg gain worth 14 p/kg based on the costs prevailing at the time of the study.

“With the recent fluctuations in the price of cereals, good quality maize silage offers beef finishers the potential to reduce feed costs and increase margins,” he added.

Further Reading

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