Outwintering cattle on herbal leys

JoeHodgey

Member
Arable Farmer
Location
Lincolnshire
I’m an arable farmer from Lincolnshire with a growing interest in livestock. Mainly to spread the risk from solely growing arable annual plants, to grow perennials and build soils. Ive done a fair bit of reading largely around regen ag methods and have come up with a production system in my head I was wondering weather anyone is running something like this? Would very much appreciate comments from anyone with practical experiences of these kind of methods.

Id like cattle but could get sheep too longer term to potentially alternate species grazing avoiding worm issues. I’d graze them mostly on 3-4 year herbal leys in arable rotation. Animals turned onto arable cover crops too if it’s dry enough. Working on a system of moving the beast every day (Maybe twice a day if very wet) in small electric fenced plots at high stocking densities (100,000kg/acre). I would allow long recovery periods (60-100 days depending on regrowth). With the aim of turning animals into forage somewhere between knee and waist high and moving them when they remove 50% ish biomass.

For water I was thinking mount a 10,000L tank on an old flat bed trailer and move it up the field as the animals move up. I’m farming just into the fens and have dykes round most boundaries I could pump out of to fill up the tank in situ. Breed wise was thinking of Lincoln red cows cross Angus but that’s not really important, it’s the concept really. Also was think about direct selling but that’s another issu

From the Reading I’ve done I think I could avoid: housing cost and associated illnesses, worms, nutrient issues in animals (grazing mixed diverse leys), get nice growth rates off legume protein heavy forage, while building my soil.

Any thoughts, advice from anyone doing this would be great.

Thanks!
 

tinsheet

Member
Livestock Farmer
Location
West Somerset
I’m an arable farmer from Lincolnshire with a growing interest in livestock. Mainly to spread the risk from solely growing arable annual plants, to grow perennials and build soils. Ive done a fair bit of reading largely around regen ag methods and have come up with a production system in my head I was wondering weather anyone is running something like this? Would very much appreciate comments from anyone with practical experiences of these kind of methods.

Id like cattle but could get sheep too longer term to potentially alternate species grazing avoiding worm issues. I’d graze them mostly on 3-4 year herbal leys in arable rotation. Animals turned onto arable cover crops too if it’s dry enough. Working on a system of moving the beast every day (Maybe twice a day if very wet) in small electric fenced plots at high stocking densities (100,000kg/acre). I would allow long recovery periods (60-100 days depending on regrowth). With the aim of turning animals into forage somewhere between knee and waist high and moving them when they remove 50% ish biomass.

For water I was thinking mount a 10,000L tank on an old flat bed trailer and move it up the field as the animals move up. I’m farming just into the fens and have dykes round most boundaries I could pump out of to fill up the tank in situ. Breed wise was thinking of Lincoln red cows cross Angus but that’s not really important, it’s the concept really. Also was think about direct selling but that’s another issu

From the Reading I’ve done I think I could avoid: housing cost and associated illnesses, worms, nutrient issues in animals (grazing mixed diverse leys), get nice growth rates off legume protein heavy forage, while building my soil.

Any thoughts, advice from anyone doing this would be great.

Thanks!
check out the holistic thread, lots of like-minded people on there! (y)
 

tr250

Member
Location
Northants
Nice idea depending on your land type but don’t underestimate the work involved I got a feeling after a year or 2 you might be glad to get up in the morning and sit on the loader for an hour on clean concrete. I’m not pooping your idea but I think you have to be realistic and have facilities to get some in in a winter like last year
 

JoeHodgey

Member
Arable Farmer
Location
Lincolnshire
Nice idea depending on your land type but don’t underestimate the work involved I got a feeling after a year or 2 you might be glad to get up in the morning and sit on the loader for an hour on clean concrete. I’m not pooping your idea but I think you have to be realistic and have facilities to get some in in a winter like last year

Yeah it’s a fair point, I’m used to just arable and I know it will obviously involve more work. I guess if after a few years I think it was a mistake I haven’t had big setup costs or permenant infrastructure built so could just sell up?
 
Location
Ceredigion
HM.33 Mob Grazing Herbal Grass Seed Mix (Acre Pack) (4-5 Years Grazing)
12.50% PERUN Festulolium
20.00% FOXTROT Perennial Ryegrass Dip
7.50% COMER Timothy
10.00% SPARTA Cocksfoot
12.50% MERVIOT Red Clover
5.00% ALICE White Clover
2.50% MERWI White Clover
4.00% DAISY Lucerne
16.00% Common Vetch
2.50% TONIC Plantain
2.50% Sheeps Burnet
2.50% Sheeps Parsley
0.50% Yarrow
2.00% CHOICE Chicory
100% (12.50 kg per acre)
 

Kiwi Pete

Member
Livestock Farmer
Cattle will help you hit your density targets with much less hassle - single wire electric fencing can work well with sheep, but you need to be pretty hands-on or they manage themselves, and that limits outcomes per hour spent.

We found via trial and error that calves around the 250-350kg mark work the best for us - you can cram them tight as you like them to be, behind a single wire, and they aren't gurt big heavy beasts that punch into your soil like a cow or bullock will.

(Honestly, the tighter you get them the better everything works, because then you move them)

A lot of the work can be reduced with some investment, things like timer gates and an extra length of pipe + trough can mean you can have them shift twice and only see them once.
Use a bit of HT to subdivide your fields into strips or lanes, so your break fences are short instead of long, just the simple things can turn it around.
 

JoeHodgey

Member
Arable Farmer
Location
Lincolnshire
Cattle will help you hit your density targets with much less hassle - single wire electric fencing can work well with sheep, but you need to be pretty hands-on or they manage themselves, and that limits outcomes per hour spent.

We found via trial and error that calves around the 250-350kg mark work the best for us - you can cram them tight as you like them to be, behind a single wire, and they aren't gurt big heavy beasts that punch into your soil like a cow or bullock will.

(Honestly, the tighter you get them the better everything works, because then you move them)

A lot of the work can be reduced with some investment, things like timer gates and an extra length of pipe + trough can mean you can have them shift twice and only see them once.
Use a bit of HT to subdivide your fields into strips or lanes, so your break fences are short instead of long, just the simple things can turn it around.

That’s great thanks, so if I went down the cattle route, from your experience finishing stores would get better soil and forage results? Rather than a suckler herd.

Yes seen the timer gates, looks like a very useful tool. Sorry, why is it your saying to do it so the gate length of fence is short? If it’s long they sometimes just wonder back into the piece already grazed?
 

onesiedale

Member
Livestock Farmer
Location
Derbyshire
I’m an arable farmer from Lincolnshire with a growing interest in livestock. Mainly to spread the risk from solely growing arable annual plants, to grow perennials and build soils. Ive done a fair bit of reading largely around regen ag methods and have come up with a production system in my head I was wondering weather anyone is running something like this? Would very much appreciate comments from anyone with practical experiences of these kind of methods.

Id like cattle but could get sheep too longer term to potentially alternate species grazing avoiding worm issues. I’d graze them mostly on 3-4 year herbal leys in arable rotation. Animals turned onto arable cover crops too if it’s dry enough. Working on a system of moving the beast every day (Maybe twice a day if very wet) in small electric fenced plots at high stocking densities (100,000kg/acre). I would allow long recovery periods (60-100 days depending on regrowth). With the aim of turning animals into forage somewhere between knee and waist high and moving them when they remove 50% ish biomass.

For water I was thinking mount a 10,000L tank on an old flat bed trailer and move it up the field as the animals move up. I’m farming just into the fens and have dykes round most boundaries I could pump out of to fill up the tank in situ. Breed wise was thinking of Lincoln red cows cross Angus but that’s not really important, it’s the concept really. Also was think about direct selling but that’s another issu

From the Reading I’ve done I think I could avoid: housing cost and associated illnesses, worms, nutrient issues in animals (grazing mixed diverse leys), get nice growth rates off legume protein heavy forage, while building my soil.

Any thoughts, advice from anyone doing this would be great.

Thanks!
What sort of numbers/size of operation had you got in mind?
 

Kiwi Pete

Member
Livestock Farmer
That’s great thanks, so if I went down the cattle route, from your experience finishing stores would get better soil and forage results? Rather than a suckler herd.

Yes seen the timer gates, looks like a very useful tool. Sorry, why is it your saying to do it so the gate length of fence is short? If it’s long they sometimes just wonder back into the piece already grazed?
It's up to personal preference and logistics as to how you structure your cattle - custom grazing can be one of the best ways to get started as you can "dial a mob" and adjust numbers to suit your forage levels.
The least attractive option to us is the suckler route, because it's the least flexible way to stock your farm. Ideally you need a contingency plan for them for wet times, especially if you're using them as tools for improving your land.
Stores can be pretty good if you stock up in the spring and offload before you get too wet, but you can also take a hiding if you don't trade right.

The main thing we found is to avoid "strip" grazing and aim for the squarest paddock shape possible, over winter we used lanes about 35 metres across so the fences were fast to move (as opposed to fences hundreds of metres long) because we get pretty damp we shift them often to prevent damaging the soil and use portable troughs moved with the mob.
150,000kg/ha is as low as I'd want to go, 300-400 tonnes per hectare is better as they have a rapid knockdown and grazing is non-selective.
Once you get up much higher than that your timing of shifts becomes pretty critical, especially if you have other stuff going on. We sat on about 850-1000 tonnes per ha but I shifted them a lot, winter is my quiet time.
Now we're lazy farming at about 200,000kg/ha (springtime) on ½ha cells.

We use a pogo (long fibreglass rod with a hook on top) for shifting, as it holds the wire about 6 feet high and they move underneath, this means they aren't reliant on a gateway system or rolling back reels.
Fields are fenced up into grids of small paddocks and our mobs move within the grid of paddocks; meaning I can just fly in, stick the pogo in for one mob, repeat for another mob, and job done.
Very fast way to move stock.
 

onesiedale

Member
Livestock Farmer
Location
Derbyshire
Well we’re on 600 acres arable now, build it up over time I think would be sensible. one day I’d like to get to half and half arable and grazed herbal leys.
So that looks like an attractive block for a contract grazing agreement.
Are you confident that you'd be ok managing the stock, ypurself or would you need to take on staff or even find a 'partner' to work with you?
To me, it looks like a cracking opportunity to rear dairy replacements, ideally for just one dairy farming business. Or take in dairy bred beef calves and grow them on for someone else to finish, again having a workable agreement with somebody.
@unlacedgecko
 

Chae1

Member
Location
Aberdeenshire
It's up to personal preference and logistics as to how you structure your cattle - custom grazing can be one of the best ways to get started as you can "dial a mob" and adjust numbers to suit your forage levels.
The least attractive option to us is the suckler route, because it's the least flexible way to stock your farm. Ideally you need a contingency plan for them for wet times, especially if you're using them as tools for improving your land.
Stores can be pretty good if you stock up in the spring and offload before you get too wet, but you can also take a hiding if you don't trade right.

The main thing we found is to avoid "strip" grazing and aim for the squarest paddock shape possible, over winter we used lanes about 35 metres across so the fences were fast to move (as opposed to fences hundreds of metres long) because we get pretty damp we shift them often to prevent damaging the soil and use portable troughs moved with the mob.
150,000kg/ha is as low as I'd want to go, 300-400 tonnes per hectare is better as they have a rapid knockdown and grazing is non-selective.
Once you get up much higher than that your timing of shifts becomes pretty critical, especially if you have other stuff going on. We sat on about 850-1000 tonnes per ha but I shifted them a lot, winter is my quiet time.
Now we're lazy farming at about 200,000kg/ha (springtime) on ½ha cells.

We use a pogo (long fibreglass rod with a hook on top) for shifting, as it holds the wire about 6 feet high and they move underneath, this means they aren't reliant on a gateway system or rolling back reels.
Fields are fenced up into grids of small paddocks and our mobs move within the grid of paddocks; meaning I can just fly in, stick the pogo in for one mob, repeat for another mob, and job done.
Very fast way to move stock.
How is 3-400t/ha achievable. We run our cows and calves in batches of 40, so say cow and calf 800kg.
300 tons per ha would be 375 cows and calves on a ha?
 

unlacedgecko

Member
Livestock Farmer
So that looks like an attractive block for a contract grazing agreement.
Are you confident that you'd be ok managing the stock, ypurself or would you need to take on staff or even find a 'partner' to work with you?
To me, it looks like a cracking opportunity to rear dairy replacements, ideally for just one dairy farming business. Or take in dairy bred beef calves and grow them on for someone else to finish, again having a workable agreement with somebody.
@unlacedgecko

Thanks for the tag. Unfortunately I think @JoeHodgey is to far south from me. I'm up on the Wolds.

I'm happy to provide contacts and advice re fencing. Call me to discuss.
 

Kiwi Pete

Member
Livestock Farmer
How is 3-400t/ha achievable. We run our cows and calves in batches of 40, so say cow and calf 800kg.
300 tons per ha would be 375 cows and calves on a ha?
All an equation with time as a factor.
We had 80 weaner-size calves on a couple of hundred square metres, eg it was taking about 8 days to graze a hectare.
(If I just put them on that hectare they would have been moaning by the 4th day, I think when it got properly wet I was on about 50 shifts per hectare or thereabouts).
200m² -240m² at a time, or, basically just room to lie down... hence using smaller cattle as they seemed the best balance between ease of fencing and liveweight/hectare.
20200802_153119.jpg
20200730_201240.jpg
20200704_113952.jpg

I factored on about 1000m²/day for a start, the strongest cover we used maybe 840m² and the poorer parts 1300m². (1ha=10,000m²)
 

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Man fined £300 for bonfire-related waste offences

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Written by William Kellett from Agriland

court-640x360.jpg
A man has pleaded guilty at Newtownards Magistrates’ Court to waste offences relating to a bonfire next to the electrical sub-station on the Circular Road in Newtownards, Co. Down.

Gareth Gill (51) of Abbot’s Walk, Newtownards pleaded guilty to two charges under the Waste and Contaminated Land (Northern Ireland) Order 1997, for which he was fined £150 each and ordered to pay a £15 offender’s levy

On June 25, 2018, PSNI officers went to Gill’s yard, where they found a large amount of waste consisting of scrap wood, pallets, carpet and underlay.

Discussion with Northern Ireland Environment Agency (NIEA) officers confirmed the site...
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