Congratulations to the winners of this year’s Farmers Weekly Awards – especially dairy farmer Gavin Fowler, beef producer Sam Chesney and overall winner, hill farmer Charlie Russell.
All three use grass to reduce their costs of production.
Sam runs his beef enterprise in Northern Ireland like a dairy unit – a paddock grazing system allowing him to maximise returns from every acre. “It only costs 16p/kg liveweight to finish an animal off grass – there’s no room for poor grassland management here” he says.
Devon milk producer Gavin achieves 7,500-8,000 litres from his 280 cross-bred autumn calving cows, using a low-cost grass-based system. In the past, the cows were grazed from May – but this wasted high quality spring grazing. Now the herd is out from the end of February to the end of October, with paddocks measured once or twice a week.
Charlie is farm manager at the Glenapp Estate in Girvan, Ayrshire with beef, sheep and dairy enterprises under his wing. The suckler cows out-winter on deferred hill grazing; the sheep run on an easy-care outdoor lambing system, which has slashed ewe wintering costs by 60%.
But most impressive has been the creation of a dairy herd on a former beef and sheep farm, run on classic low-cost grass-based principles.
“We have a land-base here where we can run a milk-from-grass system and we’ve established a dairy herd at £1,000 a cow instead of a £6,000-7000.”
Well done to them all – practical proof that a focus on grass can produce profitable and successful enterprises in a variety of conditions across the UK.
(Information taken from Farmers Weekly Awards brochure ‘ 2011 winners. World Class Farmers’ 7 October 2011)