Cereal options for beef farmers

The 2014 harvest is just underway. Hopefully the weather will settle so that combines and balers can work uninterrupted.

The crops look well in the field and there is great potential for top quality grain and straw to be saved.

Farmers buying weanlings and store cattle will really need to control costs this winter if profits are to be realised. Silage quality is going to be quiet good and volumes will be excellent on most farms this year so thankfully the level of concentrates fed on most farms to achieve required performance targets will be less than last winter. So reducing volumes and controlling costs will help to increase profits if you plan well for the coming winter.

Native Irish grain is the most versatile high energy feed that farmers can grow or buy. Traditionally grain was dried or stored on air at moistures of 18% or lower. New technologies regarding additive type, processing methods and storage options have left native grain as the most cost competitive concentrate feed source available for all classes of livestock. This is particularly true in 2014 with projected green grain prices in the region or €135-145/tonne Dairy and beef farmers that store their own grain or purchase grain in whatever form from neighbouring cereal farmers can make significant savings ( €70/€80/T) in their winter concentrate costs.

Treatment & Storage options

The following is a summary of the most popular processes used for treatment and storage of Grain on Irish Farms.

Moist Grain 28%-35% Moisture

Crimped grain (Wheat, Barley, Triticale, Maize & Oats)

• Harvest window – can be narrow during good weather conditions

• Grain moisture 25% to 35% - extra care needed below 30% moisture

• Grain crimped and additive applied – use a proven additive which aids fermentation and reduces heating at feed out.

• Prompt ensiling within 24hrs of harvest, proper rolling, compacting and covering / sealing is essential

• Create a narrow pit face as proper pit face management is critical

• When fermented crop stabilises at ph 4 – 4.5 it is ready for feeding.

• Can’t be included dry in meal premixes due to high moisture content

• Highly Susceptible to attack from birds and vermin

• Storage Period of 4 to 6 Months

• Feed Rates: Dairy up to 4 Kg, Beef-Up to 8Kg

Mature Grain 16%-25% Moisture

Ammonia Preservation Process (Wheat, Barley, Maize, Triticale & Oats)

• Harvest window – 2 to 3 weeks-during normal harvest

• Grain moisture – 16% - 25% Can also treat dried grain-with correct advice

• Additive increases the Protein content of grain by 4% and preserves for a single cost.

• Grain cracked and appropriate amount of additive applied.

• Grain is covered and sealed using silage polythene to prevent Ammonia loss

• Can also be stored outdoors once moisture excluded

• Depending on additive used you can feed the treated grain after 2 to 6 weeks

• Can be included in meal mixes due to its stability in storage

• Alkaline pH (8.5 to 9.5) provides a buffer to improve Rumen function

• Less likely to be attacked by birds or vermin due to Alkaline nature

• Storage Period – Up to 12 Months

• Feed Rates: Dairy up to 6 Kg, Beef-Can be fed Ad-Lib

Acid Treatment (Wheat, Barley & Oats)

• Treat grain using acids (e.g. propionic acid etc.) at moistures ranging from 17% to 25%.

• Application rates vary according to grain moisture content and product used.

• Acids may have a negative effect on grain protein utilisation.

• May not complement diets high in acidic silages

• Ensure even and adequate application rates

• Acid is applied to whole or rolled grains prior to storage

• Monitor grain temperature and ventilate if necessary if storing long term

• Storage Period – Up to 6+ Months

• Can’t be included in meal premixes at the higher end of moisture range.

• Feed Rates: Dairy up to 4 Kg, Beef-6Kg (depending on pH of silage)


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