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Getting the best value for cull cows.

Byline: Karen Dent

EFFECTIVE finishing will add between pounds 75-pounds 100 to the market value of a cull cow this winter, according to calculations by the English Beef and Lamb Executive (Eblex).

The market price is continuing to rise on the back of export demand, even though there are around 20% more cull cows on the market.

Figures from the Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board (AHDB) showed cull cows rising from 83p/kg liveweight in November 2010, peaking at more than 120p/kg in the summer and currently standing comfortably above 110p/kg.

With volumes of cull cows on the market forecast to drop in the New Year and European demand for manufacturing beef set to stay strong, the beef and dairy cull markets are expected to remain buoyant.

Eblex pointed to the particular opportunities in the spring market, but said farmers need to carefully manage cull cows over the winter to ensure they gain sufficient condition without getting too fat.

Eblex senior regional manager Clive Brown: said: "Young cows offer particular opportunities for profitable weight gain due to higher feed conversion efficiencies, as do larger-framed thin cows which can show valuable compensatory growth.

"Cows in very poor condition or with health problems - especially lameness - should be avoided as they are far less likely to put on weight efficiently."

He said a high energy ration with a low protein content (11-12%) is advised to secure the right type of weight gain.

"It is important to provide an effective fibre source - such as straw - spread the carbohydrate load through little and often or mixed diet feeding and, of course, ensure the diet is cost-effective. Identifying suitable dairy culls in advance will improve cost-effectiveness by enabling their condition to be improved in late lactation," said Mr Brown.

"As compensatory growth invariably decreases over time - with the maximum effect over the first month - knowing when to stop feeding is crucial.

A 60-90 day finishing period is likely to be suitable for most cows. However, if sufficient condition isn't put on within the first 30-40 days, animals should be marketed at this stage."

Eblex stressed the importance of staying in touch with the market and taking advice on when to sell.

Mr Brown said: "Equally, with store cattle trading at record levels, feeding cows are in considerable demand. So it may be advisable to consider selling to a professional feeder rather than taking the job on directly if economic feed supplies or housing is not readily available."

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DEMAND Although there are more cull cows on the market, prices are continuing to rise
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Title Annotation:Business
Publication:The Journal (Newcastle, England)
Date:Dec 21, 2011
Words:430
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