Meadow Feeds do offer more than just feed

The primary objective of any feedlot is obviously to maximise profitability. In order to reach this goal numerous key factors must be optimised. The most important of these, which are both quantifiable and measurable, are:

  • weaner price,
  • slaughter price,
  • dressing percentage,
  • average daily gain,
  • feed conversion ratio,
  • feeding cost,
  • cost of gain and
  • mortality rate.

The ability of the feedlot operator to manipulate the exact level of several of these influences is limited, since these are driven by supply and demand in the market. Therefore, the production process while the calves are in the feedlot must run on maximum efficiency. Although other factors (e.g. purchase price, selling price, dressing %) have a bigger impact on profitability, feeding cost represents the largest portion of the cost of gain. The quality and price of the diet therefore have a considerable impact on the efficiency of converting feed into meat and thus on profitability.

Since 1942 Meadow has always embraced the challenge of manufacturing leading quality animal feeds to improve the financial rewards to our clients through the highest quality animal feeds. Meadow believes that the cheapest feed is not necessarily the most profitable, but rather themost efficient feed. In this regard a production trial at a commercial feedlot has recently been conducted to validate this theory under applied conditions.

Two groups of bull calves (80 animals per treatment) were fed on either a Meadow or an alternative ration. The calves were inoculated against common diseases according to standard procedures and treated with a commercial hormonal ear implant. Animals were adapted to the feedlot diet for 14 days on natural grazing, where the calves had ad lib access to the diet. On day 15 the calves were introduced into the feedlot on ad lib feed, with no additional roughage.


The two groups of calves were very similar and originated from one supplier, providing a relatively comparable set of genetics. Calves on the Meadow ration gained 23 kg (+24 %) more live weight than the animals on the alternative diet, resulting in an average daily gain (ADG) of 1.9 vs. 1.5 kg, respectively (Table 1). Most remarkable in these results is the fact that the Meadow calves out performed the other group by 400 g daily gain, while maintaining a similar daily feed intake (9.4 kg/calf/day). Consequently, the Meadow diet improved feed conversion ratio (FCR) by 21% (5.0:1 vs. 6.3:1). The Meadow calves grew 400 g/calf/day faster and required 1.3 kg less feed for every 1 kg body weight gain, underscoring the value of improved feed efficiency.

Although the Meadow diet substantially improved calf performance, it was more expensive. Thus, the critical question that needs answering is whether the enhanced performance was enough to justify the higher feeding costs? Table 1 clearly shows that this was indeed the case. Despite being more expensive (R134/ton), the cost to produce 1kg carcass was R0.56 cheaper on the Meadow diet. From days 1 to 63 this resulted in an additional margin over feeding cost of R137/calf.

Unfortunately further performance and financial comparisons between the two groups of calves is not possible, since the animals on the alternative feed were switched to the Meadow diet from day 64. However, if the same performance pattern were maintained until slaughter at day 110, the Meadow diet should have resulted in a margin over feeding cost of R240/calf more than the alternative diet.

These results clearly indicate that the cheapest diet is not necessarily the most profitable.

For further information on Meadow’s feedlot programmes and services, please contact your nearest Meadow Feeds factory, visit our website at or contact Joubert Nolte at 082 419 6588.

Date published: 2006-09-11

Joubert Nolte

Publication: N/A