"Improving Our Lot" - Planned Holistic Grazing, for starters..

Fenwick

Member
Location
Bretagne France
No no no, often get told that some breeds will not do of grass and need feeding grain, you must be mistaken
Some breeds absolutley do need grain for finishing. The blonde d'aquitaine being the most obvious example. They were selectivley bred for a high grain diet when grain was cheap as a result have small rumens and need an extremely high energy diet in order to finish (linseed etc). My father inlaw used to do a couple pf heifers a year. U+2 600kg carcasse sold for over 3000€.

Even so, the national average for the fat score is 2.

Adapted genetics are extremely important.
 

Fenwick

Member
Location
Bretagne France
No no no, often get told that some breeds will not do of grass and need feeding grain, you must be mistaken
Some breeds absolutley do need grain for finishing. The blonde d'aquitaine being the most obvious example. They were selectivley bred for a high grain diet when grain was cheap as a result have small rumens and need an extremely high energy diet in order to finish (linseed etc). My father inlaw used to do a couple pf heifers a year. U+2 600kg carcasse sold for over 3000€.

Even so, the national average for the fat score is 2.

Adapted genetics are extremely important.
 

Crofter64

Member
Livestock Farmer
Location
Quebec, Canada
Hi All, Been watching this thread on and off for a while (was almost up to date before calving in the spring, dropped back in afterwards and was 150 pages behind :banghead:).
I gather a few of the regular contributors to the thread have done some holistic management training, and wanted to ask if they found it worthwhile and would they recommend it to a dairy farmer like myself? I have corresponded with Sheila Cooke and looking to take the online course in 2021.

I am spring calving, following standard platemeter grazing (if thats the best way to describe it). I have spent the last 12-18 months reading more into soil health and reducing synthetic inputs. I have moved to Foliar N and using humates and molasses in the fertiliser program which has helped me cut N from 240 - 160 KgN/ Ha and aiming towards 120 kg next season, also keen to be using microbes/brews through the tow and fert as well. Started sowing more diverse swards but haven't really changed our grazing management, I remember reading a post @Kiwi Pete put up about how he managed a dairy herd that made a lot of sense to me but cant for the life of me find it again.

Also feel at a bit of an impasse, in that ive always had a 5 year plan and knew where i was heading but having achieved the last plan have spent the last couple of years with plenty of ideas but no clarity of direction. Feel i've waffled on a bit but would be grateful to hear from anyone that has done the HM training.
I’ve done the intro twice ( repeating kindergarden anyone?) and I still think I didn’t quite get it. It is a different way of looking at things. It is certainly worth a try.
 

som farmer

Member
Livestock Farmer
Location
somerset
Hi All, Been watching this thread on and off for a while (was almost up to date before calving in the spring, dropped back in afterwards and was 150 pages behind :banghead:).
I gather a few of the regular contributors to the thread have done some holistic management training, and wanted to ask if they found it worthwhile and would they recommend it to a dairy farmer like myself? I have corresponded with Sheila Cooke and looking to take the online course in 2021.

I am spring calving, following standard platemeter grazing (if thats the best way to describe it). I have spent the last 12-18 months reading more into soil health and reducing synthetic inputs. I have moved to Foliar N and using humates and molasses in the fertiliser program which has helped me cut N from 240 - 160 KgN/ Ha and aiming towards 120 kg next season, also keen to be using microbes/brews through the tow and fert as well. Started sowing more diverse swards but haven't really changed our grazing management, I remember reading a post @Kiwi Pete put up about how he managed a dairy herd that made a lot of sense to me but cant for the life of me find it again.

Also feel at a bit of an impasse, in that ive always had a 5 year plan and knew where i was heading but having achieved the last plan have spent the last couple of years with plenty of ideas but no clarity of direction. Feel i've waffled on a bit but would be grateful to hear from anyone that has done the HM training.
we all waffle on a bit, reckon this thread wins the cup, for long posts !
And it's a bloody awful channel, that answers your question/thoughts, with another question/thought !
But it makes us think about what we do, how we do it, and why we do it. The whole thread is about a different way to farm, and once you start thinking along the lines, it's rather like turning a tap on, it keeps making you query what was 'the norm'. Once you realise that for years we have farmed the above ground, and ignored the underground, it becomes a continuous deluge of ideas. At the moment, i have come across an article about how growing root systems, absorb/store more carbon, than the leaf's, which in turn makes me wonder if our out wintered cattle, on kale, some of which is 'sprouting' behind the hfrs, is this seriously helping structure, simply by still being alive ? whereas i had thought those old stalks were a pain, useful when ploughed in, but we stopped ploughing...........
you then see why we waffle on, 1 idea leads to another, and so on. I firmly believe we are correct in looking after, and improving the soil, the silly bit, it's quite cheap and easy to do, with the potential to increase our profits, why has it become mainstream ?
 
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10 acres rested since mid to late August. 19 cows on it since early November after being weaned and were about 2/3s of the way through it now with about 6 bales of silage a week being fed as well. Cows are gaining condition which I didn't expect bitt I suppose they are being fed better than they would inside just on the silage by itself. Will winter all the cows and heifers together like this next year so will need some more qcres. Very happy how it's going even though I haven't done that good a job with them running back to water and not much back fencing going on and a tractor every few days putting bales out so a few things to do differently next time.
There's a bit of poaching going on but not nearly as bad as I expected. It should all recover by itself apart from maybe the ring feeder scars. Can seed those if needs be but I don't think they will need much leveling or anything.
 

Kiwi Pete

Member
Livestock Farmer
Hi All, Been watching this thread on and off for a while (was almost up to date before calving in the spring, dropped back in afterwards and was 150 pages behind :banghead:).
I gather a few of the regular contributors to the thread have done some holistic management training, and wanted to ask if they found it worthwhile and would they recommend it to a dairy farmer like myself? I have corresponded with Sheila Cooke and looking to take the online course in 2021.

I am spring calving, following standard platemeter grazing (if thats the best way to describe it). I have spent the last 12-18 months reading more into soil health and reducing synthetic inputs. I have moved to Foliar N and using humates and molasses in the fertiliser program which has helped me cut N from 240 - 160 KgN/ Ha and aiming towards 120 kg next season, also keen to be using microbes/brews through the tow and fert as well. Started sowing more diverse swards but haven't really changed our grazing management, I remember reading a post @Kiwi Pete put up about how he managed a dairy herd that made a lot of sense to me but cant for the life of me find it again.

Also feel at a bit of an impasse, in that ive always had a 5 year plan and knew where i was heading but having achieved the last plan have spent the last couple of years with plenty of ideas but no clarity of direction. Feel i've waffled on a bit but would be grateful to hear from anyone that has done the HM training.
G'day! Thanks for introducing yourself, and I'm pleased you're getting something out of it!

I haven't done any training - just a self-made man who subbed out the job to the lowest bidder 😀
.. but what I will say, is go for it.

Start with trying to identify your "context" and your financial goals. Your goals. Your partner's and shareholder's goals.
They need to be aligned, because there's enough cognitive dissonance when you begin to look at changing "a system that works" to "farming that works within a context"

lots is counterintuitive
lots is changing how you see yourself and your role
lots is already 99% done but needs looked at under different lights

Dairy is particularly "close" already - you have the big herd, you have the subdivided fields, water infrastructure, and regular stock movements. It's just the "we must produce x litres" mindset that can be a ball and chain.
You can do so much with a herd of cows as there's their calf crop, mob impact, herd health and even milking regimes that can be tweaked to change the net profit per acre.
Just bear in mind that high outputs can be pretty extractive "but" financial freedom can give you access and time for inputs that don't scorch the earth.
 

Poorbuthappy

Member
Livestock Farmer
Location
Devon
View attachment 930582View attachment 930583
10 acres rested since mid to late August. 19 cows on it since early November after being weaned and were about 2/3s of the way through it now with about 6 bales of silage a week being fed as well. Cows are gaining condition which I didn't expect bitt I suppose they are being fed better than they would inside just on the silage by itself. Will winter all the cows and heifers together like this next year so will need some more qcres. Very happy how it's going even though I haven't done that good a job with them running back to water and not much back fencing going on and a tractor every few days putting bales out so a few things to do differently next time.
There's a bit of poaching going on but not nearly as bad as I expected. It should all recover by itself apart from maybe the ring feeder scars. Can seed those if needs be but I don't think they will need much leveling or anything.
Have you considered rolling bales out?
 

Kiwi Pete

Member
Livestock Farmer
How do you intend to divide that extra wide lane at the back? It looks like it would make 2 of similar width to the others?

How will using (mostly) straight lane fences work with moving nutrients back up onto the higher slopes?
Yes, I think we'll just "armstrong it" in the first grazing or two. It could be set up just the same as the other systems but I'm not sure what I want to do!

Nutrient/fertility transfer is an interesting one, it was only yesterday that BJ commented that if the whole ranch was one big paddock, the sheep would all end up there, or perched up on various ridges.

The cattle would mostly be in the creeks wallowing

Hence why my original design was dead wrong, following the ridges would have made the problem worse, but by going across them we'll "smear it out" to an extent, and the weather will push them into a different fence every day of the year.
But overall (with just one big mob) we'd load them in nearest the yards and zig-zag their way uphill, down one lane and back up the next, then bounce them back down to the start again. Or hopscotch them on 2 lanes at a time. It's very flexible.
 
Have you considered rolling bales out?
Yes. They're bloody heavy!
The whole job is still a bit of a work in progress really. Dad wasn't keen on leaving bales out in summer so they still need taking out with the tractor. And he is used to feeding bales in ring feeders so it's all not too scary and different for him. He'll come around in time ;)
 

awkward

Member
Location
kerry ireland
Yes. They're bloody heavy!
The whole job is still a bit of a work in progress really. Dad wasn't keen on leaving bales out in summer so they still need taking out with the tractor. And he is used to feeding bales in ring feeders so it's all not too scary and different for him. He'll come around in time ;)
A bale unroller on the tractor would work a treat, it does for us whenever we have stock out in winter, best on dry ground though
 
A bale unroller on the tractor would work a treat, it does for us whenever we have stock out in winter, best on dry ground though
Yes I have been looking for an old one but they are very hard to find. They used to be everywhere and sell for like £50 :rolleyes: a new one is £4500 o_O
I did try my straw chopper a few years ago but silage, and hay, was a bit hard on it and it was very slow even though it does straw fine which I thought was odd. It needs new knives but a set of those is £400+ according to a friend who has just replaced a set. And the whole chopper probably isn't worth much more than that :censored::ROFLMAO:
 

holwellcourtfarm

Member
Livestock Farmer
Yes I have been looking for an old one but they are very hard to find. They used to be everywhere and sell for like £50 :rolleyes: a new one is £4500 o_O
I did try my straw chopper a few years ago but silage, and hay, was a bit hard on it and it was very slow even though it does straw fine which I thought was odd. It needs new knives but a set of those is £400+ according to a friend who has just replaced a set. And the whole chopper probably isn't worth much more than that :censored::ROFLMAO:
Could you get a quad unroller rigged up a la Greg Judy?
 

holwellcourtfarm

Member
Livestock Farmer
Hi All, Been watching this thread on and off for a while (was almost up to date before calving in the spring, dropped back in afterwards and was 150 pages behind :banghead:).
I gather a few of the regular contributors to the thread have done some holistic management training, and wanted to ask if they found it worthwhile and would they recommend it to a dairy farmer like myself? I have corresponded with Sheila Cooke and looking to take the online course in 2021.

I am spring calving, following standard platemeter grazing (if thats the best way to describe it). I have spent the last 12-18 months reading more into soil health and reducing synthetic inputs. I have moved to Foliar N and using humates and molasses in the fertiliser program which has helped me cut N from 240 - 160 KgN/ Ha and aiming towards 120 kg next season, also keen to be using microbes/brews through the tow and fert as well. Started sowing more diverse swards but haven't really changed our grazing management, I remember reading a post @Kiwi Pete put up about how he managed a dairy herd that made a lot of sense to me but cant for the life of me find it again.

Also feel at a bit of an impasse, in that ive always had a 5 year plan and knew where i was heading but having achieved the last plan have spent the last couple of years with plenty of ideas but no clarity of direction. Feel i've waffled on a bit but would be grateful to hear from anyone that has done the HM training.
Welcome to the bright corner of TFF (y)

I echo previous comments regarding the training. Do it. You won't regret it, money well spent.

For what it's worth, I'd say it's worth doing the Holistic Fundamentals face to face if you possibly can, it's that important. Like @JohnGalway I originally thought I'd just need financial planning (which is excellent) and grazing planning but it's the Holistic Fundamentals that actually underpin the necessary mindset change. Without it you'd miss the point.

You'd probably benefit from chewing over your plans with @onesiedale as well once you've got some of the training under your belt. He's a UK dairy farmer with a rare degree of open-mindedness.

Good luck (y)
 
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Kiwi Pete

Member
Livestock Farmer
Even a simple A-frame type of structure is enough. If your bales are close by it's only a matter of rolling them out, your grazing plan will help you decide in summer where they need to go for winter.

That cuts out a lot of ruts, your frame could just be like a small boat-trailer shape with rods whacked in ala the Greg Judy job, and just skids or wheelbarrow type tyres to tow it back with?

Just putting it out there that bale transport is best not done when it's squishy
 

Kiwi Pete

Member
Livestock Farmer
Welcome to the bright corner of TFF (y)

I echo previous comments regarding the training. Do it. You won't regret it, money well spent.

For what it's worth, I'd say it's worth doing the Holistic Fundamentals face to face if you possibly can, it's that important. Like @JohnGalway I originally thought I'd just need financial planning (which is excellent) and grazing planning but it's the Holistic Fundamentals that actually underpin the necessary mindset change. Without it you'd miss the point.

You'd probably benefit from chewing over your plans with @onesiedale as well once you've got some of the training under your belt. He's a UK dairy farmer with a rare degree of open-mindedness.

Good luck (y)
Echoing these thoughts, what helps you jump forward fast is the ability to be able to read the landscape and other parts of the business for "the early signs of improvement (or otherwise) of your management decisions"

That's why it's important to be intimately aware of the things that impact your business the most, generally there is plenty of production so production is down the list somewhat.
For us it was a lazy water and energy cycle, and our control over "marketing" or "our brand" that needed attention.
Raising production has no effect if you aren't getting the paybacks for doing that.
Putting animals behind a fence is only putting animals behind a fence if you aren't shooting for a particular goal / generating a certain outcome.

These are "concerns" and the priorities are changing. So you are limited if you don't do this evaluation first.

Much of "regenerative grazing" isn't actually underpinned by holistic management if you look closely
 

The new Sustainable Farming Incentive

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The new Sustainable Farming Incentive

Written by Tom Lewis


Source: Natural England

At NFU21, The Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs...
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