Mole Valley Farmers has introduced a new beef rationing approach for its cattle feed customers that it says focuses on the impact of specific nutrients on growth rates.

The company’s nutritionist Dr Matt Witt says that the Precision Nutrition Beef tool draws on a range of unique nutrients analysed through the company’s existing rationing programme. The aim is to examine these nutrients in detail to help beef farmers improve performance efficiencies and ultimately, margins.

“Feed, at 75% of a farm’s variable costs, is the biggest production cost,” advises Dr Witt. “At present, beef rationing software is limited as it only looks at total energy supply, rather than how that energy is broken down. We want to establish how that energy is delivered by looking at a number of unique nutrients. By understanding the impact of these key nutrients on growth rates, we can then design diets to match a farm’s specific growth rate targets and reduce the cost per kilo of gain for that farmer.”

Precision Nutrition Beef examines the precursors to glucose which an animal uses for energy and growth; Rapidly Fermentable Carbohydrates for the supply of energy; and Acid Load which indicates rumen health. An analysis of a sample of beef diets has already shown that high gluco TN levels are positively related to growth rate while too much fibre is negatively related.

The MVF team of beef specialists is currently working on validating different diets in order to establish recommendations for minimum and maximum levels for each nutrient. This will involve working with two or three farmers that can measure growth rates to test the relationship between different nutrients and performance

“We want efficient, lean growth,” Dr Witt concludes. “We need to know where to stop pushing so we don’t waste nutrients and compromise performance.”