Beef producers should be maximising early lean growth to avoid costly setbacks, according to Trident Feeds.

Based on the fact that feed conversion efficiency decreases with age, missing out on just 10 per cent early growth in beef animals could lengthen finishing times and increase overall feed requirements by an additional 159kg per head.

Bethany May, ruminant nutritionist at Trident Feeds, said: "Maximising early lean growth, the stage at which feed is converted the most efficiently, should be at the forefront of all producers minds.

“It’s key to increasing overall growth rates, reducing time to slaughter and improving the quality of finish.

“Nutrition in the first five to six months of life plays a large role in achieving this, so rations should include a quality protein source, while lean growth is most efficient.

"As animals get older, this lean growth efficiency decreases and fat deposition becomes a priority.”

Miss May advises that to produce cost-effective rations, producers should reassess protein sources, as it is often the most expensive dietary component, and quality can vary.

She continued: "However, choosing a better economic value protein source doesn’t have to mean that the quality of the ration will be compromised.

“Replacing 1.0kg per day of standard rapeseed meal with 3kg per day of Proflo could reduce total ration costs by at least 5p per head per day, or £10 per day across 200 cattle, while maintaining a potential daily liveweight gain of 1.4kg per day, and supplying the same amount of protein on a dry matter basis.

“Distillery syrups are packed with yeast residuals, which can stimulate further rumen microbial growth and therefore supply more high quality metabolisable protein to the animal.

“So, providing this quality source of metabolisable protein in a grower ration will ensure that there are sufficient protein reserves available, to grow frame size and muscle for more efficient fattening at a later stage.

“Distillery syrups also have further non-nutritional benefits. In addition to the yeast fragments significantly boosting microbial protein growth compared to other molasses, wheat syrup fermentation in the rumen produces less lactic and more propionic acid which is an essential energy source for growth.

“Both factors can be linked to improved rumen health, maximised daily liveweight gain and feed conversion efficiency in young beef animals, especially when fed alongside another high quality by-pass protein source such as SoyPass.

“It’s vital that the role of nutrition in early life is recognised by producers in achieving maximum early lean growth, to achieve end weight goals in the target time period."