Grazed grass is the cheapest and sometimes most underutilised feed on UK farms. Understanding the supply of grass growth and matching demand throughout the season is seeing huge improvements in grazing strategies in the drive to reduce input costs in livestock operations.
Electric fencing is playing a major part in the containment and allocation aspect of managing livestock. Whether by permanent electric linked to conventional fencing or by temporary means. A combination of permanent and temporary electric fencing to suit a farm unit gives tremendous flexibility and is cost effective too.
Every additional day that livestock are grazing reduces housing costs, which can add up to £1.50 per head per day. Reducing housing costs by out wintering of stock on root crops, brassicas and other forage can deliver large savings where appropriate and subject to weather and soil conditions, which lowers the cost and reliance on conserved or bought in feed such as silage or concentrate feeds.
As grass growth slows, all grass wintering (AGW) can offer potential savings of £15 per ewe per winter and is a form of paddock grazing that meets the nutritional requirements of pregnant ewes during winter mainly from grass. This can be achieved with electric fencing which is highly adaptable as the weather dictates (Source; AHDB Better Returns).
One of the most cost effective temporary electric fencing solutions can now be provided by solar energizers, especially useful where access to mains power is unpractical, or where batteries can prove unreliable or time consuming to check. The new generation of Speedrite solar energizers incorporate an internal battery as a back up and are perfect for strip grazing or paddock grazing. The sophisticated battery management system is enclosed in a rugged carry case. These energizers require minimal sunlight hours to keep the battery at or near full charge. When fully charged, they can operate for up to 21 days without sunlight, a useful feature as the days shorten.
A strong advocate of rotational grazing is Aled Evans who rears and finishes 480 dairy beef and 450 NZ Romney X Highlander sheep. Aled says “Rotational grazing will be your quickest return on investment.”
Aled who farms at Rest Farm, Carmarthenshire is a GrassCheckGB monitor farm which is a monitoring project involving 50 dairy, beef and sheep farms. Growth and quality data is published weekly throughout the growing season. https://grasscheckgb.co.uk
Aled tried and quickly adopted Speedrite solar energizers and further adds; “Battery energizers were great the 1st day but soon lose their charge and the cattle ‘test’ the fence and will break through to new growth or back onto the unprotected re-growth in no time.”
The Speedrite S1000 (solar powered energizer) gives Aled great peace of mind as it provides the power of mains electricity with the convenience and portability of Solar. Using the digital vault meter it allows you to easily monitor your fence line and act on it quickly to ensure the livestock remain contained.
Outwintering of cattle can also deliver significant savings. Costs of £1.20-£1.50 a head a day typically to house cattle, can be halved by wintering outdoors offering dairy and beef producers significant savings (Source; AHDB Better Returns).
Well-managed brassica and forage crops such as fodder beet, kale and swedes can provide cheap, high-quality feed. An additional source of coarse fibre is also needed, with big bale silage being ideal for this. Giving cattle access to a relatively small area of fresh crop daily maximises the usage. Stripgrazing and back-fencing when it is wet is good practice.
Robert Neill who farms at Upper Nisbet Farm in Roxburghshire and runs a herd of Limousin-cross cows finds huge savings to his operation utilising forage crops for his cattle and also adds;
“We consider Speedrite Energisers a great and essential asset to our farming enterprise, our livestock and pasture management would not function properly without it and stock are always where they are meant to be so we can concentrate on the intended jobs for the day. Nothing but Serious Power and peace of mind from Speedrite.” www.uppernisbet.co.uk
About Datamars Livestock
A business division of Datamars, Datamars Livestock is a global leader in animal identification products, farm infrastructure products, animal performance and monitoring and animal health delivery products. Datamars Livestock includes globally recognised brands Tru-Test, Speedrite, Hayes, Z Tags, TagFaster, NJ Phillips and Simcro.
This combination enables animal health, precision livestock management and improved protein production. All of this is underpinned by a cloud software solution; called Datamars Livestock; which connects farmers with information about their livestock, bolstering their intuition and enabling them to make precise, informed decisions.