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.
Professor Jamie Newbold, director of research and enterprise at the Institute of Biological, Environmental and Rural Research (IBERS) at Aberystwyth University, believes that ruminant feed research can address the big social and environmental challenges of the next few years. Speaking at an event last week organised by the Technology Strategy Board (TSB) which funds applied collaborative R&D, Professor Newbold said that grass breeding and research into the inner workings of the rumen will
I hosted two farm business advisers from Finland last week – taking them to see dairy farmers in England and Wales, the largest grass trials site in the UK and ending up at a rain-soaked Grassland UK. They looked in envy at Tim Downes’ and Neale Manning’s...
Tune into a new internet TV service dedicated to pasture farming and the vital role it plays in all our lives at www.pasturepromise.tv
The idea of agricultural author Graham Harvey and rural media specialist Trevor Bailey, Pasture Promise TV sets out to show how good grassland management can help farmers reduce their costs, boost their incomes and enhance biodiversity on their farms.
Somerset dairy farmer Caroline Spencer has turned the family’s tenanted mixed farm on its head over the past few years – making it a more profitable and sustainable business.
The 147ha farm used to run a high yielding, autumn calving herd of 140 Holstein cows, alongside arable enterprises. But, said Caroline at a farm walk organised by the British Grassland Society, the Royal Association of British Dairy Farmers and DairyCo this week, they were always busy and never made any money.
Volatile cereal prices and uncertainties over future global wheat supplies are key reasons why livestock farmers should include more grass in their feeding plans this spring, according to independent grassland expert Charlie Morgan.
Speaking at Duchy College in Cornwall last week at a meeting supported by Dow AgroSciences, he said that grass has all the nutrients ruminants need to produce milk and to grow.
I spent an exciting if chilly day on an arable and beef farm in Hertfordshire yesterday, where Nuffield Scholar Tom Chapman is implementing novel grazing practices seen on his travels in Canada.
High density stock grazing – aka mob-grazing – where large numbers of cattle graze small areas of grass for a short time, encourages healthy trampling (ie not poaching). This ensures that any uneaten grass left when the animals vacate the paddock is in contact with the soil. This makes it easier for earthworms to drag plant material down below the surface, and soil microbes to start breaking it down into useful organic matter.