In January 2015, our nutritionist, Victoria Phillips was asked to visit a hill farm, producing Pedigree Aberdeen Angus breeding stock and finishing some steers and heifers. The Spring-born calves, at 10 months old, appeared to be slowing, and a full ration review was undertaken.

Comparison of Silage analyses

Silage had been analysed in October 2012, and was still being fed in January 2014, so the silage was analysed using the Bioparametric silage analysis method. This showed a dry matter decrease of 10%, a significant decrease which must be taken into account when calculating fresh matter weights, and shows the importance of regular analysis of silage as you move through the clamp, or bales. It also showed a decrease in ME and Crude Protein content, which should have been correctly balanced in the ration to reflect the changes to the silage.


Analyses 31.10.12 08.01.14 Bioparametrics
Dry Matter % 30.2 20.6
ME (MJ/kg) 10.7 8.9
Ash % 8.9 5.9
NDF % 46.7 68.2
Active Fibre % 33.6
pH 4.3 4.3
Crude Protein % 15.1 10.0

The Spring born bulls weighed in at 380kg at 225 days, growing at 1.5kg/day, and after the next 70 days, animals weighed 450kg – liveweight gain had decreased to 1.0kg/day, which was going to result in the animals reaching a target weight of 650kg in 495 days, instead of the expected 400 days. Using the lower quality silage, the ration was reviewed using the Bioparametrics Milk programme, and 2 options were supplied:

  • Original Ration
  • New ration – most cost effective
  • New ration with oat flour

The Bioparametrics Milk ration programme show the new options are ideally balanced in quickly and slowly degrading protein. Active fibre content is at a minimum, but sufficient to promote rumen health and dry matter intake.

Ration no 2 shows a saving of £0.37 per kg liveweight gain. The animals still had to gain 200kg to reach the target weight of 650kg, so a saving of £74.00 per animal could be made.