Farming & Food
Grass provides the perfect diet for cattle and sheep. It is all they need to produce nutritious, healthy meat for people to cook and eat.
But grass can be tricky to manage. Its one aim in life is to grow, produce a seed head and then die. Only skilled grassland farmers can manage it to produce high quality animal food throughout the year – grazed out in the fields or given as conserved winter-feed, either dried as hay or pickled as silage.
The people I write about in these blogs are some of the best and most innovative farmers and chefs in the world. They look after their soils, their land and their animals and take great care to source and prepare the best meat possible. We should be proud of them all.
The Gloucestershire group of the Pasture-Fed Livestock Association (www.pasturefed.org) has just been to visit one of the organisation’s growing band of Approved Suppliers.
Ian and Kathy Boyd sell meat from Whittington Lodge Farm near Cheltenham, to consumers at local shows, from the farm gate and by mail order. Their cattle only ever eat high quality pasture, and no cereals or grain-based feeds.
DairyCo’s Forage for Knowledge newsletter has been fascinating this year – to see how grass growth and quality has progressed since March/April. After the cold, late start, grass – the wonderful plant that it is – seems to have caught itself up. Farmers seem happy with the quantity out in the fields and already in the clamp. But now there is a real danger of quality plummeting, as grasses thrust up their seed heads in an effort to reproduce!
Grazing high yielding dairy cows keeps production costs down on one Kent farm, as I discovered on the first of this year’s BGS/DairyCo/RABDF spring farm walks.
Nearly three months after the ‘Pasture to Profit’ conference in Worcester I still keep thinking about Neil Grigg and Tom Foot’s entertaining double act, as they recalled their ‘incredible journey’ so far setting up a milk production business from nothing. This article was first published in the December 2012 issue of Grass and Forage Farmer – the British Grassland Society’s farmer magazine (four issues available to non-members for just £10 a year!)
I am hanging up my Christmas present today – a gorgeous original painting from Lauren Terry of Lauren’s Cows – www.laurenscows.com. I stumbled upon this bright and lively bovine collection while messing about on Twitter.
The winter issue of the British Grassland Society (BGS) magazine Grass and Forage Farmer has just been published – the 111th issue since its re-launch in 1977 as Grass Farmer. The ‘Forage’ bit was added in 2005 to acknowledge the contribution crops like legumes, maize and wholecrop cereals now make to ruminant diets. In the early days, it was known as the Local Societies News Sheet – a handy communication channel for the fledgling network of grassland groups springing up around the country. It was, and still remains the practical sister to the Society’s learned scientific journal Grass and Forage Science.