Early turnout can boost beef margins, but deal with worm burden

FARMING UK - Many beef producers could reduce feed costs markedly by an early turn-out, particularly where grass is already plentiful following a mild winter, according to SAC beef adviser Dr Basil Lowman. But he adds that to take full advantage of this requires a rethink of worm control plans.
calendar icon 5 April 2007
clock icon 2 minute read

“The earlier the turn-out, the longer the period spent on pastures carrying over-wintered worm eggs before clean silage aftermaths become available for grazing,” he says. “Because grazed grass has a much lower cost than making silage, there is an emerging trend for beef rearers to turn out really early, grazing as much of the available grass area as possible before shutting up ground for silage.”

However, Dr Lowman also sees a potential downside unless specific changes are made by beef producers. He is concerned by how easy it is to seriously underestimate the way growth rates of grazing cattle are slowed by unseen worm infections long before the tell-tale signs of scour and dirty rumps become visible.

“Over a 200-day grazing season, unseen worm infections could easily reduce growth by 0.1 kg a day,” he says. “By the autumn, that’s a 20 kg penalty, worth £24/head at £1.20 a kg. Alternatively, making up the lost 20 kg the following winter would require about three weeks of extra keep, which at about £1 a day comes to a similar sum of money.”

To prevent this avoidable loss during the grazing period, Dr Lowman urges beef producers to discuss the risk of worms and choice of worming programmes with their vet.

In a survey of 2,500 beef producers conducted by Pfizer Animal Health, one-in-three employed a strategic worming programme, the most common one being Dectomax 0-8.

TheCattleSite News Desk

© 2000 - 2024 - Global Ag Media. All Rights Reserved | No part of this site may be reproduced without permission.