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Lilburn Estate, Wooler, Northumberland

Land area:
10,876ha (26,875 acres) total
5,712ha (14,144 acres) grass and heather hill pasture
2,073 ha (5,074 acres) of lowland grass
1,279ha (3,160 acres) arable

2,500 Stabiliser sucklers finishing 1,800 cattle/annum
60 stock bulls (60:40 split between Angus and Stabiliser)
5,300 lowland ewes (Grey face-Suffolk cross or Suffolk-cross Texel) 
4,400 hill ewes (Swaledale and Scottish Blackface)

Winter crops: wheat, barley, oilseed rape, oats
Spring crops: barley, peas, beans

24 full-time staff

Moist feed finishing for performance, value and consistency

If the main objective when finishing cattle is to combine fast muscle growth with the fat cover needed to meet carcase specification – and for minimum time and cost – then moist feeds have a lot to offer. 

“Ration energy density and dry matter intake (DMI) are the critical factors determining cattle energy intakes, growth and fat deposition,” states KW nutritionist Dr Anna Sutcliffe. “Balanced with the correct amount of protein, the result is faster finishing that requires less feed and produces greater margins per head.”

The Traffordgold wheat-gluten moist feed used at Lilburn Estate, for example, contains 13.4MJ ME/kg DM of energy and 20% crude protein. Like most moist co-product feeds, the energy comes from mostly from digestible fibre.

“Achieving consistently high intakes is essential for efficient finishing,” Dr Sutcliffe continues. “Moist feeds are highly palatable, cut ration dust levels and reduce ration sorting, all of which improve both the level and consistency of intake.

“The digestible fibre also reduces the incidence of acidosis and eliminates most of the typical gut problems and immune challenges associated with cereal-based diets. So you get faster, more uniform growth and finishing.”

The subsequent improvement in carcase consistency increases average carcase value, whilst the more efficient nutrient utilisation generally reduces total feed costs.

“You can tell from the smooth, well-digested muck that the feed value in the ration is going into growth, not being wasted,” she adds. “Moist feeds also require no processing before being fed, and can be clamped outside to free up shed space.

“As for all finishing, a good supply of clean fresh water is essential, plus access to straw to stimulate proper rumen function. But get it right, and the results will outperform nearly all traditional cereal-based rations.”

A moist feed mix for beef finishing

The moist feed mix fed on the Lilburn Estate beef finishing unit is created during clamping, with all feeds delivered by KW at the same time. 

The three feeds  – Traffordgold wheat-gluten moist feed, sugar beet feed and processed bread – are mixed on the floor in a ratio of 6:2:1 and stacked to a height of around 2m, excluding as much air as possible.

After adding a sprinkle PDV salt, the clamp is then sealed with a layer of cling film and covered with polythene sheet. The mix is ready to feed out immediately, and will keep for up to 18 months.

Lilburn moist mix:
Traffordgold wheat-gluten moist feed: 6 parts
Sugar beet feed: 2 parts
Processed bread: 1 part 

Nutritional specification on a DM basis:
Dry matter (DM): 60%
Energy: 13.0MJ ME/kg DM
Crude protein:16%
Fibre: 27% NDF
Starch + sugars: 25%#


Slower growth and higher mortality on barley-based ration

In 2018, the Lilburn Estate beef finishing unit ran a trial comparing 100 bulls on the current moist mix-based system with the same number on an alternative ration utilising home-grown barley plus a high-protein supplement. 

All cattle had the same access to water, straw, rock salt and the vitamin and mineral premix (including live yeast and buffer), yet the cattle fed the barley-based ration took six weeks longer to finish and the mortality rate rose to 9%. Mortality for the moist mix-fed cattle remained at the unit’s usual 2%.

The cost of the additional mortality was estimated at around £1,000/head, with the primary cause of the losses being Clostridia infection, likely triggered by the high-cereal diet causing ulceration. 

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No matter what system you have or what type of forage you may be substituting, our feeding guide can provide the answers.

C*Traffordgold detailed spec

Challenge us to reduce your feeding costs

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