world agriculture down on the farm
agricultural services pedigree livestock news dairy beef agricultural machinery agricultural property agricultural organisations
Stackyard News Jan 05
news index    

Faster finishing vital for steers without BSP 29/01/05

In the absence of Beef Special Premium, English beef producers must consider finishing their steers faster at a younger age to maximise returns while minimising costs, advises the English Beef and Lamb Executive (EBLEX) following the most extensive national beef carcase study ever undertaken.

The study involved detailed analysis of nearly 100,000 passport and carcase records from animals slaughtered by leading beef processor, ABP in its three English plants in the 10 months to September 2004.

Separating-out the performance of individual breeds and sexes from the complex of national carcase statistics for the first time ever, it clearly showed there is no longer any value in slaughtering steers at over two years of age.

While more than 95% of Limousin-cross steers in the study were slaughtered at over 675 days, for instance, the data revealed no increase in average carcase weight beyond this age to pay for additional feeding, labour and housing costs.

At the same time, the carcase quality of older animals was noticeably poorer than their younger, faster-grown contemporaries. For example, fully 94% of Charolais-cross steers slaughtered in fat class 4L with carcase weights of 300-375 kg at 670-700 days of age graded R or better for conformation, compared to 86% of those slaughtered at more than 730 days.

Add to this the increasing risk of penalties for over-fatness and over-weight with increasing age and the case for faster steer finishing now BSP is no longer paid is even more marked.

All the more so since latest EBLEX cattle enterprise costings suggest that many producers could improve their net margins (excluding subsidies) by as much as £75/head by finishing stock more intensively over a shorter period, mainly through spreading fixed costs over a greater beef output and better feed conversion efficiencies obtained with faster growth rates.

EBLEX recommends managing steers by all four main continental breeds to gain at least 0.8 kg liveweight/day over their lives. A higher lifetime growth rate of 1.0 kg/day will enable steers to be finished at 18 months with little compromise in carcase weight. Faster growth rates can easily be achieved by adjusting diets, allowing feed to be used more efficiently for meat production. As live weight increases so does the proportion of feed needed just to maintain the animal. Rapid finishing minimises these maintenance feed costs.

A similar policy of faster finishing at a younger age is advocated for steers sired by British beef breeds, although a somewhat slower lifetime growth rate target of at least 0.7 kg/day is advised to avoid the danger of putting on too much fat too early.

    home | agri-services | pedigree pen | news | dairy | beef | machinery
| property | organisations | site map

English Beef and Lamb Executive

More Beef Links