Hosted by Mark and Jane Melly, the sun shone as we toured on a customised trailer, taking in beautiful scenery. We visited groups of suckler cows with spring born calves at foot, mob grazing on herbal leys or set stocking on permanent pasture, discussed the pros and cons of each system. Mark’s pedigree Sussex herd take advantage of more marginal parts of the farm, including an iron age hill fort, as well as a commercial Angus herd. Subjects discussed were age of first calving for heifers, tick control and calf growth. Our vets presented interesting data on calf growth analysis and the group discussed potential opportunities for maximising growth rates over the winter.
Messages of the day:
- Keep a tight calving pattern to maximise potential for calf growth post weaning
- Weigh animals and analyse data to know how animals are actually performing – it may be different to what you expect!
- Optimise forage utilisation for growing cattle – silage / hay analysis enables accurate ration planning and helps minimise costs from externally sourced feedstuffs
Tim Mallett, Beef Suckler Farmer commented “It was very informative to visit, Mark is using Mob grazing of herbal Leys, ‘alternate’ grazing of legume rich herbal leys and ‘traditional’ stocking of permanent pasture, including an ancient monument. While many can discuss each of these methods it was beneficial to be able to with one manager running all these systems. The farmer lead discussion following the farm tour covered many subjects from disease control to data analysis, with very useful input from other attendees with direct knowledge of the subjects. These meetings are very informative, with the ability to discuss with farmers directly involved in the subject adding to the experience.”