Farm open day in Norfolk showing the success of out-wintering Stabilisers on fodder beet

On one of the very few dry days in January the Stabiliser Cattle Company in association with AHDB hosted an open day by kind permission of Richard and Sue Evans at Stonehouse Farm, East Harling, Norfolk. There was a successful turn out with 75 attendees in total, all of which had the chance to look at Richards strong herd of 133 Stabiliser cattle. Most attendees were local to the area, demonstrating the surprising amount of cattle located in the South East, we also had guests travel from as far as North Yorkshire.

The event began out in the field where the majority of females in the herd were found strip grazing on fodder beet. The cows looked extremely well and in immaculate condition considering the rain the country has been suffering lately. Due to the lovely light soils Richard farms, it is possible to reduce housing costs by out-wintering. Fodder beet is the highest yielding forage at 27t/ha, along with being one of the cheapest at 4-6p/kg dry matter. Compared to concentrate at 24p/kg dry matter and silage at 12-15p/kg dry matter, considerable savings can be made through feeding this nutritious forage. In addition to the fodder beet the cows receive hay and silage over the winter period which is kept at the opposite end of the field to the fodder beet. There is a handling system situated in the centre of the field which the cattle have to walk through daily to access the different feed type, this allows Richard to gather the cattle up easily if need be as they are familiar with the handling system. It only takes twenty minutes from leaving the farm to feed all the 133 cattle, this includes moving the fence, and taking forage out. Demonstrating how this system doesn’t only reduce feed, straw and fixed costs but also reduces labour required. Currently all the bull calves are weaned and sold to a repeat customer 20 minutes away who takes all of them through to finishing. In a trial Richard is carrying out, the heifer calves have been left on the cows this year and Richard is planning to wean them off 2-3 weeks prior to calving. Richard is carefully monitoring how this effects cow and calf development, the hope is that the calves will self-wean, and the cows will have chance to produce sufficient colostrum for its new-born calf.

Whilst out in the field the Stabiliser Cattle Company’s, Seth Wareing, gave an informative talk on the benefits of using the Stabiliser breed to many new faces. It was reassuring to see that everyone in the group had heard of the Stabiliser breed, which is most likely due to the increasing growth in recent years and the promotion the breed has seen by the Stabiliser team. Seth highlighted the superior KPI’s the Stabiliser breed has over the top third AHDB producers, producing an extra 6 calves a year on average.

Next up was Francis Dunne from Field Options who discussed the benefits of grazing fodder beet including the reduction in feed costs.

We then returned in convoy to Richards farm a couple of miles away.

Nerys Wright from AHDB spoke about colostrum management and highlighted the importance of feeding 10% of the calf’s body weight within 6 hours from birth. Trials have shown Immunoglobulin transfer in the sucker industry is surprising comparable to the dairy industry. An average calf requires 3 litres of colostrum, if this isn’t reached the immunoglobulin transfer is likely to be unsuccessful, leaving the calf vulnerable. If you are interested in this further there is a webinar available on the AHDB website.

We were also joined by Steve Trickey from Chapelfield Vets who spoke about the importance of analysing data gathered on farm and the benefits it can bring.

Once the talks were finished everyone was welcomed to a warming hot beef stew.

For attendees who were interested in discussing handling systems and outdoor corals, talks continued after lunch.

All in all, it was a very well attended successful day, we were approached with a lot of interest regarding the Stabiliser breed by many new faces. This event wouldn’t have been possible without Richard Evans and family and we would like to thank them for being so accommodating.

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