Industry collaborates to improve beef feed guidelines

Acting on the outcome of an industry review, a five year collaborative project led by CIEL and funded by AHDB Beef & Lamb will deliver improved beef cattle feeding guidelines.

Evidence suggests that current guidance underestimates nutritional requirements in a number of areas. The ‘Feed into Beef’ project will address a much-needed update to the beef cattle feeding systems guide, AFRC 1993.

‘Feed into Beef’ is being delivered by CIEL and AHDB Beef & Lamb in partnership with Scotland’s Rural College (SRUC) and the Agri-Food and Biosciences Institute (AFBI).

It is 25 years since the last major update to the guidance was published and both animal genetics and feeding systems have changed a lot since the underpinning data was recorded in the 1980s. Changes in market specifications, with major meat processors seeking younger animals with lighter carcases but with similar fat cover, is another key reason to update nutritional guidelines.

Dr Mary Vickers, AHDB Beef Scientist

CIEL is working with a number of academic and industry partners to harness the best of current science and align it to industry needs. Both AFBI and SRUC have run studies on intake, growth and emissions from beef cattle over recent years. The large amount of data from these studies, alongside new concepts taken from overseas work, will be used to update models of feed intake, energy and protein requirements, rumen function, growth and body composition.

Other areas of work within the project will develop and update feed values needed to run the nutritional models, as well as exploring ways to include the increasing amount of farm-collected information in the rationing process.

The project has been shaped to bring together industry, academic and commercial players across the beef industry to deliver a nutritional model that will enable beef farmers to increase production efficiency, reduce the feed cost and improve the environmental impact of beef production.

Dr Mary Vickers, AHDB Beef Scientist

Industry members of the project team will advise researchers and aid the development of models that will serve the industry well into the future.

The new feeding standards will be customised for different breeds or classes of stock and will better predict animal performance.