Feeding Changes Help Farm Cut Costs

Article excerpt

Byline: By Jennifer Mackenzie

A new feeding regime which allows more accurate costings is one of a number of changes which will help Northumberland beef farmers Geoff and Vivien Roddam claw back some of the subsidy they expect to lose under the new Single Farm Payment system.

The Roddams farm 735 acres at Blackcarts Farm, Humshaugh, near Hexham.

Anticipating receiving only half the amount of subsidy with the SFP over the next five years, Geoff and Vivien want to keep a close eye on costs across their beef enterprise.

Blackcarts Farm was the venue on Monday for an open day looking at the options facing North beef producers staged by the Red Meat Industry Forum.

It was staged in conjunction with Keenan's nutrition consultancy, KW Alternative Feeds, Lines Mitchell Software, Scotbeef and the Aberdeen Angus Cattle Society.

One of the decisions already made by the Roddams is towards breeding a hardier suckler cow ( a Simmental-Luing cross, alternating herd sires between both breeds.

Their 220 suckler cow herd is currently split between spring and autumn calvers, and now the move is towards spring calving to reduce winter feed costs as well as making better use of accommodation.

The terminal sire has also been changed to Aberdeen Angus to reduce labour costs at calving, remove the need for de-horning and make better use of forage and arable areas.

The feeding system at Blackcarts has also been changed to a total mixed ration with a view to feeding stock every other day and feeding different rations to different groups of animals.

At Blackcarts, 450 acres are in the SDA, with 65 acres of DA and the remaining 220 acres lowland.

Cereal crops are grown on 84 acres for home feeding, 60 acres is cut for hay and 120 acres for first cut silage with 90 acres taken for second cut.

The farm carries on average around 600 cattle. Young stock not retained as herd replacements are reared and finished on the farm and sold deadweight.

Some cattle are also bought in to finish and 300 ewe hoggs are taken on for wintering.

The Roddams will finish around 120 cattle this year because they have larger numbers of the Simmental-Luing crosses to build up herd numbers, however, the aim is to finish upwards of 200 cattle a year. …