• Effects of breed type, silage harvest date and pattern of offering concentrates on intake, performance and carcass traits of finishing steers

      Cummins, B.; Keane, Michael G.; O'Kiely, Padraig; Kenny, David A.; Teagasc Walsh Fellowship Programme (Teagasc, Oak Park, Carlow, Ireland, 2007)
      The objective of this experiment was to investigate the effects and interactions of breed type, silage harvest date and pattern of offering concentrates on intake, performance and carcass traits of finishing steers. Seventy-two steers (36 Friesian and 36 beef cross) were blocked on weight within breed type and assigned to a pre-experimental slaughter group or to one of 4 dietary treatments in a 2 (breed type) 2 (early- or late- cut silage) 2 (flat rate or varied pattern of offering concentrates) factorial arrangement of treatments. The flat-rate feeding pattern was silage ad libitum plus 5 kg concentrates per head daily to slaughter. The varied feeding pattern was silage only for 79 days followed by concentrates ad libitum to slaughter. All animals were slaughtered together after 164 days when the groups on the two feeding patterns had consumed the same total quantity of concentrates. Friesians had a higher (P < 0.001) silage dry matter (DM) intake and a higher (P < 0.01) total DM intake than the beef crosses. Live-weight gain was similar for both breed types but the beef-cross animals had a higher (P < 0.001) kill-out proportion, higher (P < 0.01) carcass gain, and better (P < 0.001) carcass conformation than the Friesians. The beef-cross type also had a higher (P < 0.001) proportion of muscle and a lower (P < 0.001) proportion of bone in the carcass. Silage harvest date had no effect on silage or total DM intakes but the early-cut silage did result in higher (P < 0.01) carcass gain. Animals on the varied feeding pattern consumed less (P < 0.01) silage DM and less (P < 0.001) total DM than those on the flat rate feeding pattern. Live-weight gain and carcass gain were similar for the two feeding patterns. It is concluded that Friesians had a higher intake, but had lower carcass gain than the beef-cross type. Animals on the early-cut silage had higher carcass gain than those on the late-cut silage. The varied feeding pattern resulted in lower DM intake but efficiency of feed energy utilisation was similar for both feeding patterns. Interactions were generally not statistically significant.