Four Steps for Optimising the Performance of Livestock Fattening

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In beef cattle fattening farms, techno-economic performance optimisation is imperative for reaching profitability, whether in farrow-to-finish or fattening farms. The practical application of this goal needs a 4-step approach: consideration of the preferred final outputs, analysis of the current situation, customized dietary program and final validation the services carried out.

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Factor to consider of the targeted markets

Whether in farrow-to-finish farms or fattening ones, farmers must consider the kind of products required by their target audience to set up their productions goals: weanlings, calves aged less than 12 months, young calves aged 14 to 16 months … Prior understanding of the commercial targets enables the determination of goals concerning weight, average daily gain (ADG), fat cover, color of meat, etc. This will assist them to choose the type of diet to implement (dry diet, semi-dry diet, wet diet plan), the dietary levels required and the most proper feeding program to use.

Analysis of the existing scenario

Achieving these goals requires an excellent introduction and an extensive understanding of the current farming systems in usage. At this moment, undertaking an useful audit of the farm will assist to recognize the locations for enhancement from a technical and financial point of view. In addition, efficiency modellings allowed by management tools are normally used in farrow to complete farms, and the teachings of market data (purchase rate for calves, selling price of young bulls, the feeding program cost, and so on) will permit to figure out earnings margins.

Elaboration of a customised dietary program

A particular dietary program based on the farm’s technical and financial optimum can then be set up. This program must include the following:

  • optimisation of livestock resources: forages, feeds, additive minerals, basic materials and co-products offered;
  • consideration of animals’ growth potential: ADG (Average Daily Gain) prospective, development curve
  • turn-over of young calves’
  • margin targets.

All these objectives are developed to pick the most ideal paths from a techno-economic perspective. Information related to the wanted objectives and the specificities of each farm can then be participated in a financial optimization software. This software application will then permit to compute the needed nutritional needs therefore recommending the most suitable feeding program.

How can one discover the best-fitting program? A total knowledge of the dietary worths of the resources held in the farm (forages, raw material …) and factor to consider of production targets will help to determine the extent to which these resources can be used in the diet plan, along with the most ideal feed supplements to utilize. These feed supplements will assist make up for the diet plan’s identified deficiencies and restrictions in regards to energy profiles, nitrogen, fibrous mineral of the fundamental diet).

Upon developing the diet, the consideration of specific requirements will add to a more accurate management of the particular fattening phases: adjustment/ start/ development/ ending up. The other benefit of such safety measures is that indigestions that are likely to occur at this stage will be more regulated and thus better avoided.

An unsuitable feeding program might lead to underperformances and digestion disorders (acidosis, enterotoxemia …), with typically heavy effects: ineffective utilization of diets, lower daily weight gain for beef cattle, decreased performance, lameness, death … Furthermore, the incorporation of additive services in the diet plan can boost the benefits of nutrients so they can be assumed to their complete potential. To this end, some additive solutions can guarantee a protected optimisation of young calves’ development. The action mode of these solutions consists of orientating ruminal fermentations to produce propionic acid; propionic acid has a favorable impact on muscle development. Considering that they also contribute to contain methane emissions, these options likewise limit energy waste.

Last: application of solutions implemented

A final comparison in between the diet that has really been fed and their occurring weight gain will supply an accurate techno-economic evaluation of the recently carried out program. This examination will help to determine locations for improvement with regard to rearing conditions and the suitable feeding methods to apply.