A new survey compiled by KW Feeds reveals that 62% of responding beef producers are aiming to take advantage of more grazing and make more use of forage to try and control feed costs but aim to do so using less fertiliser.
The survey, conducted amongst both beef and dairy producers, asked respondents about their concerns with input costs, with 64% aiming to use less fertiliser this year, but 68% expecting to utilise the same amount of forage. None of the respondents plan to use more fertiliser.
Just over half (52%) plan to extend their forage with feeds, with the majority (78%) looking at moist feeds.
“The soaring production and input costs have put more pressure than ever before on beef producers to control feed and input costs, with many looking to extend the grazing season and make more use of forage,” said Georgie Croxford, head of ruminant technical at KW Feeds.
However, according to Ms Croxford, feeding beef animals on grass introduces a different series of challenges, not least estimating grass nutritional value and supply, to maintain growth rates.
“Too often the desire to exploit low-cost grass leads to over-estimates of its feed value and dry matter intake, leading to reduced liveweight gain,” she said. “It is important to be realistic about what can be achieved from grazed grass alone. It is fully understandable that producers want to take advantage of more grazing and extend the use of forage.
“The danger is too many will become over-reliant on relatively low-digestibility grass, which cannot be converted into liveweight gain as efficiently as the best dry, moist and liquid feeds,” she added.
Ms Croxford says complementing lower feed value feeds with the best value alternatives capable of lifting nutrient density, increasing palatability, driving intake and reducing sorting will not only increase growth rates but also cut the cost per kg liveweight gain.
“The key is to feed what you need. Make the best use of the feeds available by combining them into highly efficient, high-value feeding systems. Failing to do so can add significant feed costs per kg liveweight gain,” said Ms Croxford.
“As our producers obviously recognise, moist feeds add palatability to rations, which can help lift intakes. The high energy moist distillery feed C*Traffordgold can promote very efficient growth by supplying both energy as digestible fibre, plus moisture to increase ration palatability,” concluded Ms Croxford. “The survey clearly underlines producer attitudes to increased input costs, and our advice is to speak to your nutritionist to make sure you are making the most out of grazed grass and make more use of forage. Don’t over-estimate the feed value of grass and dry matter intakes,” she concludes