By Debbie James

The performance of finishing cattle at a Carmarthenshire livestock farm has been boosted since the business invested in purpose-built housing.

Aled and Iwan Evans are achieving an average daily liveweight gain (dlwg) of 2kg in the final 75 days cattle are housed in the new building at Rest Farm, near Llanboidy.

It enables consistency, tripling the number of cattle that finish at the same time at 20-24 months.

“It allows us to get cattle finished and away,’’ says Aled. “We used to get a bit of a backlog of cattle that were slower to finish but we now know when they will be ready to sell, it gives us more control.

"At the finishing stage our aim is to have the cattle on site for as short a time as possible."

The shed has been designed specifically with animal performance and welfare in mind.

The brothers buy dairy beef calves and rear on skimmed milk powder until weaning at 80kg. These are sourced from four dairy farms and finish at 20-24 months at an average carcass weight of 300kg.

The majority of production comes from grazed grass, from the end of February to the end of November after which cattle come indoors with the majority of growing cattle housed in cubicles.

The initial design for the fattening shed was more open but the decision was made to enclose three sides to protect the cattle from the wind while reducing the risk of moisture build-up.

An overhang keeps rainwater off the feed, and there is a 100mm outlet area in the centre of the shed down the full length of the building, to allow a stack effect without letting in rain or a draught.

“The ventilation outlet keeps out the wind and rain but allows for the desired ventilation, aiding cattle performance and welfare,’’ says Aled.

Because the shed is enclosed the cattle use less energy to keep warm, using it instead for growth and to lay down fat.

“We know that the cattle will gain 2kg a day when they come into the shed – anything from 1.5kg is cost effective for us,’’ says Aled.

“If we weigh them and feel they are not far off finishing we can make a guesstimate that they will be ready in two weeks so we can book them in for slaughter, it gives us more control.’’

Eighty per cent are finished at 0+, 15 per cent at R and 5 per cent at O-.