Grass Addiction Fuels Cow Habit!

Grass Addiction Fuels Cow Habit!

Grass Addiction Fuels Cow Habit!

It all starts innocently enough, you come home to the farm and you want to make some changes, make some money, make your mark and before you know it you are addicted to grass which is fuelling your, nearly out of control cow habit!

 10 years ago Ian came home to the farm full-time, and in order to do this changes needed to be made so money could be! Ian turned to pedigree Aberdeen Angus cows and to lessons he had learnt from the dairy farmers he had been building parlours for – strip grazing.

He could see the benefits of this system, though it wasn’t still 100% right – the cows were walking over the eaten grass to get to the water trough, it wasn’t getting the rest it needed.

The game changer…

A water bowl, no bigger than a large dog bowl changed the game and turned Ian into an grass growing addict! Whilst on a farm open day in Cornwall Ian saw the KiwkiTech water trough, enough for 50 cows, moveable around the paddocks and fed off the main trough. That £45 was a great investment and meant a back fence could be introduced and rotational grazing could commence.

 

A lot can happen 24 hours….

and grass can do a lot of growing… seeing that first paddock starting to green up after 24 hours was a magical moment, and one he is still in awe of today… THAT was a game changer! By overcoming his infrastructure issues and ensuring cows had access to water meant Ian was truly in the grass growing game!

The ultimate Swiss Army knife…

Electric fencing is like a Swiss army knife – there are so many ways to use it! Permanent around all the fields, feed off it with temporary, single strand, double strand, its quick to put up, it’s neat and tidy, keeps the stock in and the hedges in good condition. Having the PEL820 mains fed, permanent electric fence saves so much time when preparing the forward grazing cells and having the Speedrite remote means he can turn the fence on and off from anywhere on the farm.

Strategic decisions..

Ian says yes to a lot of opportunities to get the Mobberley Angus name out there, taking part in news, magazine articles and now working with AHBD and Datamars. Datamars are strategic partners and have loaned Ian their TruTest XR5000 Indicator for accurate weight capture, this links with the XRS2 stick reader. Within 24 hours of receiving these Ian had ordered readable EID tags which has made the job super easy and quick – game changer!

Calves are tagged at birth, with Caisley tags, BVD and DNA tested and EID tagged. Information is gathered on this first day, from weight, time of birth and tag number, all recorded on the stick reader and transferred to the FarmPlan software, which is added to through their lifetime, tracability at its finest!

 The XR5000 has been a game changer! It collects and delivers as much or as little information as you want, you set the data you want to see for the decisions you want to me.

 

Accurate data, accurate decisions…

MiHub has helped Ian make great decisions and save money. Ian aims to finish a 350kg cow , he can set his weight goal month to kill between 16-22 months, weighing cattle every 3 weeks, MiHub can tell him if he is on target and how much Daily Liveweight Gain he needs to achieve – which was 0.8kg per day, not the standard 1kg we read about, saving him money on feed costs whilst still hitting his targets! By having all the information right in front of you with proper facts and figures means that you know where your business is really at, where you can save money and where you can make money.

No more Top Gun moments.

Trying to read a tag number as the cow is moving its head around.. always made me feel like Goose in Top Gun trying to get my aim on a ‘boogey’! Add some muck and a hairy ear and mistakes are made, especially when there are sheets of paper, full of ear tag numbers on TB testing day.  The Stick Reader and EID tags have made life so easy and safe. As long as the stick bearer hears the ‘Beep’ as the tag is read, easy days… This is so important for Ian, who relies on outside help on TB testing day, when he feels he should be in the danger zone of pushing cattle into the race, it means father in law can help… as long as it beeps!

The same with the medicine book; no longer scraps of paper, lost in a draw trying to remember quantities and withdrawal dates, it is all there, ‘Beep’ then straight into the FarmPlan software.

Learn together, learn from each other and work together…

Ian wants to do the best job he can and the way to do this is to learn from others, from farm open days, AHDB days and discussion groups. Not afraid to travel the distance in order to learn from those that have done it, who have made mistakes and learnt from them! Ian joined the Precision Grazing discussion group, a group of like-minded people with a positive attitude who want to give things a try. But he wants to up his game and so investing into 1:2:1 time with Precision Grazing will be his next move to get the most of the land he has for optimum cattle growing conditions and maybe enough sneak a few more head of Angus in!

Start at the end…

And work backwards. Ian has set the income he wants to achieve and worked backwards from there. Breeding a smaller cow, 650kg, that can grow itself and raise a calf on grass, a smaller cow that does less damage to soil and grazing, a calf that can be finished off grass at 350kg, to suit the system, and consumer desire for smaller cuts of meat, to finding a local market for his beef, his brand with full traceability and setting the price, all leads to the end goal and a bigger slice of the wedge. Technology is helping Ian to be the best he can, make the best decisions for his stock and his business. By knowing facts not guesses means he is control.

Say yes to opportunities, learning and technology, say yes to your farm business!

Sian Mercer

Sian Mercer

Photography, Listener of thoughts, asker of questions, Writer of Blogs

I am Sian Mercer, the writer of these blogs, which are based on thoughts and ideas, quetions I have asked, feelings I have had and wonders which have been answered.

I am a photographer, please check out my website www.myruraltribe.com to see my work and book your own photoshoot, for your rural business or family. 

Grass Addiction sweeps the farming community…

Grass Addiction sweeps the farming community…

Grass Addiction sweeps the farming community…

Grass Addiction sweeps the farming community…

Say what…

I know growing up in rural Wales it was all about the magic mushrooms, but smoking weed and farmers… surely not?!

No.. not at all, BUT they are getting addicted to seeing their grass and bank accounts grow!

Pray Tell!

Rotational Grazing; the New Zealanders have been doing it for years, the dairy lot have caught on and well… its time the beef and sheep farmers got on it and take back control!

Meet the farmer

I met Aled Evans, beef and sheep farmer in West Carmarthenshire who came back from the corporate world to take over 400ha of family farmland. Aled wanted control over his profit, not to be at the mercy of the market or processor and the only way to do this is to Save Money, by cutting the Cost of Production.

 

Build up your confidence

Start small and build up, gain confidence and grow the addiction of seeing grass grow!

(I thought the addiction to Tractor Porn was bad (no not like that.. literally 16-year-old boys ogling the blue one, the green one, the red one…. No weird positions, unless you are a JCB)) but seeing grass grow… IS addictive! 

Aled started by splitting fields into 2 0r 4 paddocks, depending on their size, cattle grazed for 24 hours then moved onto the next fresh paddock….that’s when he saw it… new grass growing, green and lush, with no fertiliser added, and what else was growing well… the cattle and sheep… they were utilising this wonderful ‘free’ feed source… and looking great!!

Upping the game

2 years ago Aled met James Daniels of Precision Grazing at a Farming Connect ‘Prosper from Pasture’ and quite frankly has not looked back! He upped the game, GPS the whole farm to create 0.45ha Cells, that ensure consistency and ease of management. Gone is the manual plate meter and replaced with the bells and whistles of Bluetooth plate meter which sends the data to the mobile phone and then onto the computer where AgriNet works out how much grass you have on farm, days of grazing, growth, too much too little… suddenly there is a plan, a goal, Proactivity! 

Yawn…

This is flexible grazing system, grazing a cell from 24 – 72 hours, decisions are made on Supply & Demand, each season can be consistent with the aim of a nice straight line on the graph… no ups and downs here, just a nice straight line of beautiful consistent green grass!

Spend it to Make it….

Spend it or invest it? Investing in rotational grazing will work out about £300/ha, this includes the new water trough system… BUT done correctly, this system will return your investment within a year, with a potential 5 figure saving on winter feed and fertiliser going forward. Surely a no brainer… change the way you say it… Investing in the farm system… investing is powerful, investing is achieving a goal, spending Is wasteful… Invest! Invest! Invest!

We’ve always done it this way…

And it is now time to change. 30 years ago you got £60 a lamb, you still get £60 a lamb and costs have gone up.. so how much is that lamb or beef animal actually making you?

Each year farmers ‘invest’ in feed and fertiliser; you can see it, touch it, you know it does what it says on the bag.. it grows animals and grass…. but get your mind around the fact that an electric fence, efficient grazing, a re-growth period, rain and sun grow copious amounts of grass…. for ‘free!

A hungry cow is an efficient cow…

Pray Tell! Aled houses the cattle over winter, they were housed on the 23 November 2019 after 9 months grazing and are fed their winter ration of silage and rolled barley or bread. They are then drip fed out onto the grazing from early Spring, starting with 4 hours a day, until the grass growth 

starts to get ahead of the demand. The cattle then come back in and nibble at some silage. It takes 3 hours of efficient grazing to fill up the cattle, no loitering or walking about the field, full on Olympic style training in the art of grazing, then in to rest and chew the cud! A new Cell each day, winter growth removed and double the grass growth off these semi grazed cells! Winner Winner Grass Clover Ley Dinner! 

Working smarter, not harder

Coming back from corporate world to farming, Aled brought with him the corp mentality; management meetings involving all the team and an Agenda, Quarterly reviews, regular  Consultant meeting, personal and staff development and time off!

Time Off… yep and by working an 11 hour day, home for tea, every other weekend off, weekend on is only stock checking and time off off for holidays! I know! Cray Cray! But by working smarter and more efficiently a lot can be done in a day and Aled and Llifon are better for it. Work smarter Be smarter (or not so tired that accidents & near misses don’t happen)

What’s your Legacy?

 Aled is creating a business he is proud of, one that fulfils his and the team’s aspirations; a successful profitable business. Ego is left at the door, working the land efficiently means that grass, labour and stock are being utilised to their very best. How does he know this? Benchmarking! Benchmarking stocking & labour units, knowing Live Weight gain and % of grass utilisation and efficiency!

Take Control

Changes are happening to farming and the red meat industry. Climate change, subsidy reductions, can leave you feeling out of control. But here is a system that gives you back control.  Farming is a game of hope, hope of the weather, healthy stock, healthy price, healthy market. But hope does not give control.

What can you control? You control the Cost of Production. The end price you receive is determined by SO MANY factors…. Which you can’t control, only hope for. By reducing costs, growing a ‘free’ nutritious feed source that your animals love to eat, investing in YOURSELF, your SYSTEM, your EDUCATION will give you CONTROL.

YOU are your only obstacle

As with any system it needs YOU – 100%to make it work. It’s scary, there are systems and spreadsheets and technology and investment. There are areas of the farm to look at, (hard) conversations to be had BUT so much to learn, money to be made, free time to be had. Farming is a lifestyle but it is also a business. Don’t let the lifestyle just be about work, let it be about family, friends and enjoyment.

Rotational Grazing (in my mind) is a no brainer!

There are  great companies there to help you, Farming Connect for free education, Precision Grazing consultnats, Datamars for ALL the gear and AgriNet for your software. 

Thank you Aled Evans for his time, for showing what can be done, how to create a legacy, develop the ‘next generation’, sharing the gift of conversation, education and inspiration.

Thank you to Datamars for sending me ‘On Tour’ to Wales and providing all the gear and the ideas to all those amazing farmers who are getting involved in electric fences, solar powered electricity, water troughs and waterproofs all in the name of Rotational Grazing and a great farm business!

#NothingButSeriousPower #Speedrite @datamarslivestockuk

Sian Mercer

Sian Mercer

Photographer, Listener of thoughts, Asker of questions, Writer of Blogs

I am Sian Mercer, photographer, blog writer, which are based on thoughts and ideas, questions I have asked, feelings I have had and wonders which have been answered.

I am a photographer and gatherer of information for your business, please check out my website www.myruraltribe.com to see my work and book your own photoshoot.

Check out my Rural Photography , or follow me on Instagram @my_rural_tribe to keep up to date with my walks and thoughts! 

Community… how do you make yours better?

Community… how do you make yours better?

Your dreams will have greater meaning when they are tied to the betterment of your community’

Community… what does that mean to you? Are you part of a community? Do you live and work in one? What does YOUR community look like?

I look to the farming community, one I am proud to be part of. Growing up in rural Wales being part of the community is just how it was, it’s the way of life.

I mean you would fart, and people would know about it, which can be annoying but actually looking back, it shows that people have your back. Yes, there is the gossip and scandal but when the chips are down, they are there for you.

The farming community comes together for the good times and the bad. The local show, YFC events, fundraisers and concerts; making sure livestock gets to the market when someone is ill, and the snow is cleared ensuring the funeral of a loved and respected member of the community can take place.

These people are not living in streets but miles apart, with fields, rivers and hills separating them but they are united by the sense of community, a field in August the village hall, the vestry. United by friendship, working together and coming together to celebrate the highs and the lows. A wave as you drive past each other, stooping for a quick chat, maybe there is more time or maybe the need is greater in these rural areas to take the time for community, because they depend on it, without it, it can be a lonely place.

Community is being part of where you live, it can be found on-line with your tribe, it is found on the allotment, Am Dram the community centre.

How do you better your community? Is it through the work you do? Have you given back to your industry or the community you live in?

Humans need humans and we see this more than ever at the moment. We need that interaction, and when that interaction doesn’t happen, we lose ourselves, our sense of purpose our direction.

By reaching out, from our isolation, from you heads, we can make a huge difference to those around us, it might be 1 person, it might be a 100, but by making a difference to others you will make a difference to yourself.

How are you going to do this? How are you bettering YOUR community?