Optimising growth paths of beef cattle in northern Australia for increased profitability
|Project start date:||01 June 2007|
|Project end date:||28 February 2013|
|Publication date:||01 March 2014|
|Livestock species:||Grassfed cattle, Grainfed cattle|
Download Report (2.8 MB)
This project investigated reducing slaughter age of northern cattle through modifications of growth paths using supplements or improved pasture.
In a grazing trial at Swans Lagoon steers grazing native pasture were fed from weaning either at low-plane (urea only - Control) or with high-input molasses-based supplement (MUP) in either one or both dry seasons prior to slaughter. A further group were finished on leucaena.
Steers fed in only one dry season reached similar slaughter weight to those fed in both with 22% less supplement intake.
Hormonal growth promotants (HGPs) given to half the steers continuously from weaning increased growth rate by 8% in most groups, and by 22% whilst steers grazed leucaena, and increased the net value added to steers despite impeding compliance with Meat Standards Australia Australia (MSA).
An economic analysis showed that leucaena, but not high-input supplements, increased profitability - the use of improved forages, combined with manipulation of body composition and associated compensatory gain offer the most cost-effective options for reducing slaughter age.
Associated pen-feeding studies established that young (8-12 mo) and older (30-33 mo) steers responded similarly (kg extra gain/kg supplement) to additional nutrients and that responses increased in order of MUP, barley/urea and cottonseed meal.
Studies indicated that the Australian feeding standards could not currently be relied upon to predict intake of grazing cattle in the tropics.
|Primary researcher:||University of Queensland|