Case study: The benefit of planning winter feed

Published 19 September 18

Crimping BarleyWorking alongside his parents and one part-time member of staff, Guy Prudom currently rents 400 ha near Whitby, North Yorkshire. With both arable and beef production on farm, Guy’s current focus is on home-produced feed, using perennial ryegrass, crimped cereals, whole-cropped beans and clover leys.

 

 

 

Coarse Grass Grazing @ HBThe farm uses Simmental, Aberdeen Angus and Stabiliser bulls on the 190 plus suckler herd, with the progeny finished on farm. He is one of AHDB’s Beef & Lamb Strategic Farms, and hopes to increase his knowledge of feed management, while making improvements to his grassland management in order to maximise return per hectare. Guy acknowledges costs are still rising and, with the infrastructure nearly in place to allow rotational grazing, he now feels he needs to learn how to maximise grass utilisation to get the most from his system.

Guy started to use a feed plan particularly for his finishing stock after conversion to organic in 2007, with the aim of avoiding having to buy in expensive concentrates. He collated the production (supply) of the various crops he grows and calculated the feed demand for the stock on his farm. Over the years, he has improved his knowledge of yields and has ensured that he has enough winter feed to cover this year. He is planning to reduce the red clover leys within the arable rotation by 10 ha, as the extra forage is not needed as cattle are being finished at a much younger age.

He has survived this grazing season well with no buffer feeding required as the farm’s position near the coast meant that he didn’t experience the high temperatures others did. Additionally, Guy has weighed through the summer months and pulled heifers in off grass at about 480 kg to finish. This has meant that grass growth has kept ahead of demand.  Guy also thinks that his rotational grazing system has helped as he has around 18 ha divided into approximately 3.5 ha paddocks on regular shifts for 52 store heifers. He has used a little nitrogen, as the farm stopped being organic in 2015. His current demand is around 17 kg dry matter (DM) per ha.

Mum And Daughter 2Guy considers the farm to be understocked as he is now not grazing finishing steers in their second summer because they are inside on high cereal diets at younger ages (14-18 months of age), which has reduced overall feed demand. The aim is to increase to 250 cows over the next few years and have five batches of cows and calves on the rotational grazing blocks to fully utilise the grass and forage being grown.