Increased Feed Use per Head in Northern Ireland

NORTHERN IRELAND, UK - Data available from Northern Ireland Ministry of Agriculture (DARD) with regards to Animal Feed Statistics show an increase in the levels of concentrates purchased during the first quarter of 2012.
calendar icon 10 July 2012
clock icon 2 minute read

Data available from DARD with regards to Animal Feed Statistics show an increase in the levels of concentrates purchased during the first quarter.

Purchases of beef coarse mixes and blends increased by almost five per cent in the first quarter of 2012 when compared to the corresponding period in 2011. During the same twelve week period the total number of cattle slaughtered was down just over 16 per cent which, when taken in conjunction with the increase in purchased feed, indicates higher meal feeding levels per head of stock.

One explanation for increasing meal purchases may be the lengthening of the final finishing period by producers to achieve higher carcase weights. The increase in meal feeding levels may also be as a response to Video Image Analysis (VIA) grading results. This may be true where producers have traditionally been producing U grade cattle but have slipped back a grade under the VIA mechanical grading (i.e. from a Ugrade to an R+).

It is worth bearing in mind that this may be a consideration of producers who may be lengthening the final finishing stage and increasing feed levels per head. It may also be worth considering whether this extra investment is always worthwhile.

This will be discussed in a brief follow-up article in the coming weeks along with fat class statistics. When VIA was initially introduced DARD made a commitment to review the performance of the machines and to consider if any improvements could be made to their calibration after the system had been in place for a year.

A press release from DARD last week outlined that overall the machines have performed consistently with high scores for grading accuracy. Analysis of the first year’s data has allowed DARD, with the agreement of the relevant UK and EU authorities, to make small refinements to the technical specification used in VIA. It should be noted that these changes were applied to all the machines at the same time at the end of May 2012 and will result in only subtle changes to grade distribution.

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