Measuring Performance and Intakes

The Williams family from Gwythrian, Aberdaron, have seen dramatic improvemIMG_0564ents in carcass weight gain by controlling costs, predominantly monitoring DLWG and intakes to improve performance and efficiency. Alan Williams farms with his wife Catrin and three sons, Dafydd, Will and Ieuan, at Gwythrian. Alan has seen a huge benefit in monitoring animal performance through each stage of beef production. Along with monitoring animal performance, intakes and costs are controlled after purchasing their Keenan 320 Mech Fibre.The farm is 740 acres of primarily lowland ground that carries 80 Continental cross suckler cows, a flock of 1350 Suffolk cross and Welsh Mules and 80 acres of barley – grown on the farm for feeding. 380 store cattle are purchased onto the farm each year, with approximately 460 taken to slaughter each year;

  • 40 home grown bulls
  • 50 purchased steers
  • 370 home grown and purchased heifers

When buying stock bulls onto the farm the bulls’ figures are very important. The family look to get the full potential
out of the carcass and are looking for a heavy weight with high DLWG. Charolais bulls have been purchased for
some years as the breed offers all the above and largely all stores purchased are also Charolais cross.

“We purchase bulls predominantly on their figures and calving ease. The 400 day weight is most important to
us”, commented Alan, “if we can get cows calving easily and the progeny to have accelerated growth rates post
calving, they are our main objectives”.

Cows are calved from April to June and creep feed is offered to all calves from mid August. “Creep feeding allows the calves to gain more weight before weaning at a lower cost, as they are more efficient at converting every kg of DM into bodyweight”.

“We have worked closely with Iwan Vaughan from Wynnstay to set up diet formulation so we can achieve as much DLWG per kg of DMI as possible. The intakes of the stock are monitored by using the Pace system on the Keenan”.

“Our targets with the young finishing bulls is to achieve a 430kg carcass weight by 14 months, and we then sell
the bulls through ABP”. This year the bulls were slaughtered at a carcass weight of 430kg at 14.5 months and averaged a carcass classification of U+3. This is an average of 1.6kg DLWG from birth to slaughter.

The diet is as follows;

  • 5kg Rolled Barley
  • 3.4kg Custom Blend
  • 2.5kg Cracked Maize
  • 1.4kg QLF Allstock 40
  • 0.25kg Straw
  • 0.15kg Sodium Bicarb
  • 0.1kg Wynnmin Biosprint Beef Mineral

The bulls are housed in early November and put onto a finishing ration. They will start clearing 7.5kg DM first at 340kg and then rise up to 12.5kg DM before slaughter at 650+kg. The diet is formulated with some straw included within the mix; ad lib straw is also offered in a ring feeder so bulls can eat to appetite. The formulation of the diet is targeted at growing energy density by increasing the starch in the diet safely, using slower degradable starch in the form of maize and barley; this gives the diet less of an acid load. A custom made blend including sugar beet pulp, rapemeal and distillers, supplement protein and digestible fibre within the diet. Palatability and sugar content is increased with the inclusion of QLF Allstock 40 molasses. A mineral including Biosprint yeast is also added to the diet along with Sodium Bicarb to maintain rumen stability and efficiency with such an energy dense diet.

Iwan Vaughan from Wynnstay added, “The diet has been formulated using quality rIMG_0539aw materials with each kg DM costing 18.7p. By monitoring intake and body weight the diet is more efficient, with the bulls gaining more weight per kg of DM eaten”.

Some heifers are finished late autumn on grass and supplemented with rolled barley and molasses. Most are then housed and fed a TMR through the Keenan. The target with the heifers is to achieve a deadweight of 400kg by 20 months of age and all are sold to Woodheads. Last autumn/winter the heifers reached 400kg deadweight by 21 months with an average carcass classification of U-4L, heifers gained an average of 1.5kg DWLG from housing to slaughter.


  • 7kg Grass Silage
  • 5.5kg Rolled Barley
  • 3kg Cracked Maize
  • 3kg Custom Blend
  • 1.25kg QLF Allstock 40
  • 0.5kg Straw
  • 0.1kg Wynnmin Biosprint Beef Mineral
  • 5kg Water

The heifers diet is again formulated with the same raw materials to increase energy density and starch within the diet. Grass silage is fed to add fibre and protein to the diet and supplemented again with starch sources from the rolled barley and cracked maize with digestible fibre and quality protein from the blend. Water is added to this diet to reduce sorting and increase palatability, due to the very dry grass silage being fed the previous year.

“The heifers on average would be eating 13.7kg DM of the diet offered to them at a cost of 16.6p/kg DM. As with the bulls DLWG and intakes are monitored so we know exactly how much the finishing stock are costing us each day”, added Alun.

Written by: Iwan Vaughan – Ruminant Specialist at Wynnstay Group Plc


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