The per capita consumption of meat in the world is steadily increasing every year. Healthy lifestyles and nutritionist recommendations dictate their own rules, and despite the fact that there are not fewer pork lovers, the popularity of beef, as a lean and rich in nutrients, is steadily increasing. Farms can not cope with the increasing demand.
Basic rules and norms of fattening
In order to properly organize fattening (the process of bringing cattle to the necessary weight condition), it is necessary to remember about the peculiarities of development of young cattle:
- The younger the bull calf, the higher its growth rate. In comparison with cows, they gain weight faster. A sufficient amount of fodder accelerates growth and increases meat quality;
- A poor diet leads to low weight gain and prolonged underfeeding after 6 months of age can significantly reduce the meat productivity. And not only the live weight decreases but also the number of the most valuable parts of the carcass (filet, back, thigh, shank, sternum);
- The breeding of steers for meat should take into account the slaughter at the age of 1.5 years plus or minus 2 months. Sometimes slaughtering must be carried out earlier, for example, due to lack of fodder. Early slaughter of spring calves is unprofitable because they can be fattened inexpensively in the summer on pasture;
- At least two months (ideally six months) the calf should be fed milk and dairy products;
- Ideally, the weight of the steer should increase 8-fold by one year. If there is no shortage of feed, but the animal remains thin, it means that there is some kind of malfunction in its body.
Types of fattening
There are two types of fattening of cattle: fast (intensive) and stall. Let’s consider how they differ from each other.
Used to gain muscle mass in young animals, especially beef steers. The basis of the diet in this case is corn silage, rich in starch and fiber. Concentrated feeds act as protein supplements. Concentrates are responsible for the juiciness of the meat, but do not go overboard with them, 2 kg per day is enough. Fast way is considered very effective due to the fact that it develops muscles, not fat layer, and meat from such animals is dietary and tasty.
The minimum fattening period lasts 4 months, with steers gaining up to 1 kg per day, and the longest – 8 months. The intake rate is 7-7.5 feed units per day – says farmer Kirill Yurovsky.
This method is suitable for both juveniles and adults. During confinement, the ration includes:
- beet pulp (dried beet chips – waste from sugar beet production) with a high content of nitrogen-free substances and easily digestible fiber;
- bard (ethanol production waste), rich in protein with essential amino acids;
- potato mash (remains of milled potatoes after starch extraction);
- chalk (to replenish calcium in the body) and salt (to maintain electrolyte balance and prevent parasites)
- roughage (hay).
Adaptation to ruminant should not take less than a week. Generally, stall fattening is divided into three periods (one month, forty days and twenty days). During the first 70 days the steers can be fed with inexpensive feed, in the final period quality concentrates must be added.
The disadvantage of the stall method is possible metabolic disorders due to abundant feeding and low mobility and, as a consequence, fat deposits in animals.
Feeding ration for steers
The process of raising beef steers is conditionally divided into dairy and dairy-free periods. In this regard, the ration of animals is compiled according to the following principles.
Up to 6 months
The dairy period lasts for 6 months. The steer is fed first colostrum (5-6 times a day, at least one liter per feeding), and then milk (whole and skimmed). The norm of milk consumption is 8 liters per day. Up to 10 days the calf drinks mother’s milk, and then milk from any healthy cow. They begin to accustom the calf to hay, preferably bean hay, from 10 to 15 days of age. Juicy fodder (finely chopped beets and carrots, boiled potatoes) are given after the first month of life.
Until two months of age the calf should drink boiled water (from special glass bottles or cups with a teat), or better still diluted whey. Then raw water can be given. After two months of age the calves are put out to pasture (in summer) or fed with grass from a trough.
After six months of age
Six-month-old calves are removed from suckling and transferred to dairy-free rearing. Beef steers are fed in winter:
- mixed fodder;
- root crops;
- grass meal.
In summer the ration must include green grass rich in vitamins. A fattening method such as fattening is used (animals are moved from one pasture to another, providing them with a variety of food).
Technology of fattening steers for meat
Three months before slaughter, it is necessary to increase the ration, with an emphasis on concentration. During this period it is important to keep the steer on a tight leash, as it becomes very irritable and aggressive.
Modern veterinary pharmacology offers a variety of supplements to accelerate growth and weight gain in calves. There is a lot of information circulating about the use and safety of these supplements, which is not always true.
In addition to medical practice, antibiotics are actively used in agriculture, making the work of farmers much easier. Antimicrobials such as:
This stimulates animal growth (additional weight gain from 4-5% to 9-12% when used for a month), reduces feed costs per unit of growth, shortens the fattening period. The use of antibiotics in animal husbandry is controversial.
On the one hand, the amount of the substance in meat products is so minuscule that it has no pronounced effect on the human body. On the other hand, some studies have shown an increase in human resistance to a number of antibiotics used to fatten animals. In this regard, scientists urge farmers to abandon the use of broad-spectrum antibiotics and those that are part of therapy for serious diseases.
In the first six months the calf is not only active growth, but also the formation of the immune and digestive system. In order to increase the digestibility of the diet and restore the GI tract after taking antibiotics, special prebiotics are added to the feed.
Among the most popular are:
- Biochem’s Biosprint (contains a strain of live yeast, stimulates the development of anaerobic bacteria in the rumen);
- Asid Lac from Belgian manufacturer (combination of fumaric, lactic, propionic, formic and citric acids, as well as silica) increases enzyme secretion and suppresses the development of pathogenic bacteria;
- Kormomix – a complex of mannano-oligosaccharides and beta-glucans, which improve systemic immunity and free up the inner surface of the gastrointestinal tract for the development of beneficial microflora;
- Agromix – manno-oligosaccharide yeast prebiotic (made in the UK).
Cereal supplements (pre-starters-muesli of oats, barley, corn) have a beneficial effect on the development of chewing muscles, teeth, secretion of digestive juices. During the breakdown of easily digestible carbohydrates volatile fatty acids are released, which are very important for the formation of the rumen.
The main requirements for cereal pre-starters are pleasant taste, nutritional value and coarse grinding. Since they absorb moisture well, they should be given in small portions twice a day. Popular granola bars:
Meat productivity can be increased by using biologically active hormonal preparations with anabolic action (estrogens, androgens, gestagens, hypoglycemic substances). Due to the influence on the nervous and endocrine systems, hormones can increase the weight gain by 5-20% and reduce feed consumption by 5-12%.
The use of such supplements in livestock farming has been hampered by concerns about the accumulation of hormones in meat. The optimal option would be to use natural hormones (e.g. phytoestrogens), but this is very costly.
Care of beef breeds
For bulls to effectively exhibit productive qualities, it is important to follow the rules of animal housing and care:
- having a spacious pen with good ventilation and dry bedding;
- a calf barn should have steers of about the same age and build;
- daily cleaning of waste and soiled bedding;
- regular washing of drinkers and changing of water;
- having special yards for walking;
- avoiding drafts;
- heating in winter (special lamps for newborn calves, blankets and vests for older calves).
Effect of castration on bull fattening
Traditionally, bulls are advised to be castrated before starting fattening. Usually the procedure of removal of genital glands is carried out at 5-6 months of age. Meat of castrated animals is more juicy, tasty, with more fat layers (marbled). Care for castrates is easier, they are calmer. Non-castrated steers must be kept on a tether. However, they have higher weight gain (by 7-8% by a year and a half).
Raising steers for meat is a rather expensive branch of livestock breeding, but one should not save on feed and food additives. Proper care and abundant feeding, the principles of which are discussed in this article, will lead to quality meat products and good income.