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On-farm trials reveal dairy beef live weight gains comparable to beef cattle

On-farm trials reveal dairy beef live weight gains comparable to beef cattle

24 January 2022

Trial dairy-cross beef cattle being fattened at Greenham’s 3,400ha north-west Tasmanian property, Westmore, are achieving live weight gains equivalent to their beef counterparts.

The trial, which includes 200 head of predominantly Angus, Speckle Park and Hereford-cross steers and heifers, kicked off in December 2020 with the aim of determining if eligible dairy-cross beef cattle, raised on a 100% grassfed diet, would deliver on-farm performance and eating quality outcomes comparable to beef cattle raised under the same conditions.

Trial cattle are broken up into two age groups:

  • the first includes 43 steers and 61 heifers, currently aged around 24-months-old.
  • the second, younger group, includes 71 steers and 25 heifers, currently aged around 12-14-months-old.

The first group arrived at Westmore in December 2020, and the second in April 2021.

Greenham Livestock Supply Chain Manager, Jessica Loughland said the trial is being conducted in support of the Greenham Dairy Beef Program (DBP), which is currently being piloted in Tasmania.

In partnership with key domestic and international customers, Greenham developed the dairy beef supply chain for high-quality beef cattle from dairy herds. Launched in July, the supply chain provides a valuable alternative pathway for dairy-cross calves and eligible finished cattle and addresses growing consumer welfare concerns and key purchase drivers.

“The results of this trial will help inform on-farm management decisions,” Jessica said.

Westmore Manager, Aiden Coombe said the cattle, which are rotationally grazed in mobs of 280-300 head and raised on grass and additional silage as required, demonstrated no “discernable difference” between the live weight gains of equivalent dairy and beef groups.

“Trial results show that they are achieving live weight gains on par with equivalent beef cattle,” he said.

“All trial cattle handled the colder months very well without any special care. We strategically used  parts of the property with good windbreaks so they had respite from wind and rain.”

All incoming cattle at Westmore undergo an induction within the first two weeks on the property that includes three boluses, an oral liver fluke drench and a seven-in-one vaccination, followed by a drench and a shot of B12 after three months.

Average live weight gains

Group 1 (24 months)*

 

Avg weight

Avg live weight gains/day*

STEERS

583kg

1.02kg

HEIFERS

540kg

0.9kg

*since August 2021

 

Group 2 (12-24 months)

 

Avg weight

Avg live weight gains/day*

STEERS

318kg

0.99kg

HEIFERS

295kg

0.9kg

*since May 2021

MSA grading results (group one)

HSCW

309.13kg

Marbling (AUS-MEAT)

1.92

Ossification

205.77

P8 fat

13.41

Rib fat

9.16

MSA Index

60.49

MSA compliance

100%

By
Dairy Beef Westmore