One of the sectors predicted to be most severely affected by any new agricultural policy following Brexit is the Beef and Lamb sector. Currently this sector is highly reliant on area payments. With this in mind, AHDB Beef and Lamb have established a network of ten strategic farms on which they are working to demonstrate improvement that can be widely implemented by similar businesses.
As part of this exercise there are a number of farm walks on strategic farms over the next two months. For many of these farms one of the key objectives is to improve the performance of grazing and grassland management. To date this has involved
i. Soil analysis and correcting poor pH and low nutrient status.
ii. Devise and implement a rotational grazing system.
The benefit of rotational grazing has been clearly seen in the dairy sector and there is no reason why the beef sector cannot do likewise. Demonstration farms have been able to show a threefold increase in gross margin per hectare from rotational grazing systems compared to the average Stock Take costed farm.
The benefits come in three areas:
1. Improved efficiency of grassland utilisation – set stock systems often utilise less than 50% of grass grown compared to a good rotational system where it can be in excess of 80%.
2. Rotational systems have the ability to grow up to 50% more grass for the same level of input compared to the set stock system.
3. Rotational grazing enables the animals to always be eating highly digestible, high energy material.
With these benefits clearly visible there is a tendency to over complicate the installation of rotational systems and to be put off by this perceived problem. Systems can be simple, based on electric fencing and mobile water and do not need to be excessively expensive.
If you would like to know more about improving performance of beef enterprises, please contact your FCG office or William at firstname.lastname@example.org