Growth performance in beef cattle

Successful cattle producers know: A high growth performance in beef cattle is the key to profitability - as well as enhanced feed efficiency.  Enhanced feed conversion results from improved nutrient utilization and metabolic efficiency which, simply stated, generates more meat from each pound of feed. Improved feed efficiency in ruminants provides opportunity for improved resource utilization, reduced environmental impact, and considerable savings of feed costs.  

Did you know?

Between 5 and 12 kg of feed are required to produce 1 kg of meat in beef cattle and lambs. The feed conversion rate (FCR) increases with the age of animal due to a reduction of the metabolized nutrient production and absorption. Feed conversion rate is strongly linked to genetics and the capacity for muscle deposition. For young bulls FCR is between 4 and 8. For aged cows, the FCR is between 7 to 20. 

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High growth performance in beef production depends on a sufficient supply of fat and starch

In order to meet the requirements of highest performance through optimal feed efficiency, the feeding strategies in beef production concentrate primarily on covering the energy requirement with carbohydrate-rich rations. To ensure that sufficient energy and glucose are available to support high growth rates, fermentable carbohydrates comprise a large portion of diets for finishing cattle. 

This means that in addition to high-quality roughage, up to approximately 30% starch can be found in the rations. Part of the starch is fermented relatively quickly in the rumen by amylolytic bacteria into volatile fatty acids, which are the main source of metabolic energy. A second part is hydrolyzed by the enzyme amylase in the small intestine to energy providing glucose. 
An issue with feeding high percentages of concentrate is that the roughage intake decreases, which can reduce chewing activity and consequently saliva production. Decreases in saliva production result in lower buffering capacity in the rumen during starch fermentation which can lead to a significant drop of ruminal pH and changes in the microbial populations - mostly going along with reduced growth performance in beef cattle. Maintaining a stable rumen environment is the critical to support high levels of concentrate feed intake and maintain feed efficiency. 

Did you know?

From an energy standpoint, it is more efficient to digest starch enzymatically directly in the small intestine than to break it down into volatile fatty acids in the rumen and then undergo the process of glucose formation in the liver.

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Maintain rumen functions for high growth performance in beef production

In order to maintain supply of glucose and energy to the small intestine, feedstuffs such as corn or sorghum are often used which contain a high proportion of "bypass starch". This form of starch is broken down relatively slowly and incompletely in the rumen, allowing larger amounts to enter the small intestine. Enzymatic degradation of the starch that floods the small intestine and may lead to a high absorption capacity of glucose. Thus, the efficiency of bypass starch use is determined by both glucose uptake and the extent of starch hydrolysis in the small intestine.

The main objective is to stimulate feed intake and the utilization of digestible bypass starch and fat in the small intestine to minimize energy loss. By reducing carbohydrate degradation in the rumen and increasing the buffer effect of salivary flow, the risk of drastic  changes in the ruminal pH and subsequent microbial population shifts can be reduced. Consistency of rumen environment is necessary for optimal feed conversion and average daily gain in finishing cattle.


Challenges & Solutions Ruminants

Do you want to find out more about other Challenges & Solutions?

The phytogenic support in beef production especially at high fast carbohydrates level (>30% of DM):

Actifor® Power - for powerful growth performance in beef production

  • Helps to maintain ruminal pH in conditions of high-carbohydrate rations
  • Improves growth performance and carcass yield in fattening cattle
  • Supports digestion and utilization of digestible bypass starch and fat in the small intestine, thus contributes to minimize energy losses

Our phytogenic Actifor® Power helps maintain pH in the rumen when feeding carbohydrate-rich rations, while improving energy efficiency in ruminants. The sophisticated formula of essential oils, natural spices and saponins stimulates feed intake and feed conversion, which contributes to increase fattening performance and average daily gains of beef cattle. Actifor® Power has a positive effect on the physiology of ruminants, which helps to improve performance and carcass yield.

Nature that works - proven scientifically

Actifor® Power has shown to improve feed intake, average daily gain and feed conversion ratio.*


Parameter Actifor® Power Effects
Dry matter intake (D.M.I) +300 g/day
Average daily gain (ADG) +70 g/day
Feed conversion ratio (FCR) -0.06

Actifor® Power has shown to increase carcass weight significantly.

*Average improvements with Actifor® Power in beef cattle compared to control, average data of 5 trials on performance parameters, Europe
**Field trial with Charolais Beef on Carcass weight gain with Actifor® Power, Italy, 2016 (p-value <0.001)
***Average improvements with Actifor® Energy in beef cattle compared to control, average data of 5 field trials on performance parameters, Europe

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