After a relatively positive back end to the grazing season, the recent inclement weather has turned our attention to the winter housing period.

Winter Housing Checklist 

  1.  Airspace/ventilation to minimise the risk of pneumonia.
  2. Feed space/stocking density per pen.
  3. Water availability.
  4. Animal health protocols (Fluke, worm and parasite dose. Clipping of tails/backs.).
  5. Avoid excessive mixing of groups especially where newly purchased onto the farm.
  6. Forage analysis completed and results analysed.
  7. Mineral supplementation.

Achieving Optimum Potential 

Every 0.1 kg improvement in average daily gain will typically increase margins by €30/head on a finishing steer, highlighting the need to increase performance in housed finishing stock.
As silage is the base forage used on most farms, knowing what quality is available in the yard will inform us on what growth performance to expect. For example, every 1 unit decline in DMD requires 0.4 kg of concentrates to compensate, or a 5 unit drop in DMD will reduce animal performance by 0.2 kg/hd/day.

Mineral Supplementation 

Minerals must be offered if storing cattle on silage alone, maintaining suckler dry-cows, feeding a home-mixed diet where minerals are not included or where mineral analysis has shown specific deficiencies on farm. Minerals can be offered via dusting on-top of silage, mixing with a home-mixed ration or in block form.

Strike A Balance 

Where home grown ingredients are being used on farm, such as beet, maize silage or treated grains, diets will need to be balanced. With rising feed costs, the use of home-grown feeds and/or cost effective straights will be attractive this winter. The main limitations of such diets tend to be low crude protein levels and too little fibre in the overall diet. To optimise performance, ensure the diet is balanced for both parameters. The performance difference between a well-balanced bull finishing diet and a poorly balanced diet can be 0.5 kg/hd/day. This is the difference between achieving growth of 500 – 700 kg at the point of slaughter, equating to approximately €192/head.

More Information 

For further information on winter housing, contact your local Agritech Sales Advisor. 

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