Out-wintering Stabilisers on Fodder Beet Open Day

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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What our farmers say…
  • We are trying to produce beef that meets market specification and make the most profit possible. Using Stabilisers we are achieving our objectives, we have a low cost, low labour cow and good quality finishing cattle that meet the needs of the market.

    - Mel and Pete Momber, Hampshire
  • I’m excited by the prospects the Stabiliser can deliver for us. The proof was there based on scientific research, backed up by a large gene pool and precise management systems. It seemed the perfect breed for our farming system.

    - Will Evans, Machynlleth
  • On weaning in May at 10 mths old the Stabiliser calves were on par with the Blue and Angus calves. These were turned out to grass until early September then housed. This is when I was surprised by the differences between the breeds, the Angus averaged 480kg, the Blues 490kg but the Stabilisers were 530kg.

    - Robin Talbot, Laois – Ireland
  • In 2011 we bought 46 Stabiliser heifers plus 3 bulls and sold our 3 Belgium Blue bulls. The results were clear to see, by the time we pregnancy tested our 100 cows later that year. We went from historically having 15% barren cows to only 3% barren in a 9 week mating period.

    - Jeremy Iles, Gloucester
  • I have found Stabiliser cows to be very forage efficient. Their ability to put weight on in the summer months means I can save on winter feed costs. This has allowed me to keep more cows on the same resources.

    - Jono Cole, Cornwall
  • We have an easy-care system that is as profitable as any other beef enterprise. We benchmark our herd against the AHDB industry figure and we sit comfortably ahead of the top third performers. I believe we are now producing a carcass with the conformation and eating quality consistency that the market wants.

    - Dan Burling, Cambridgeshire
  • Docility, feed efficiency tested, easy calving, hybrid vigour, fertility, growth AND carcass traits from highly maternal cattle, what’s not like?

    - Robin Norrie, Fife
  • We aim to get most out of grass as possible. The hardy nature of the cattle seems to suit this system very well. Hardly any assistance is required during calving, combined with the excellent calf vigour produce healthy and strong calves which further reduces labour costs.

    - Llion and Sian Jones, Conwy
  • We’re over 10 years into our Stabiliser journey, we’re reaping the rewards. Moving to the Stabiliser has been a game changer for efficiency and job satisfaction, allowing us to increase cow numbers on the same area and finishing bulls averaging over 380kgs at 13 months. Our only regret is that we didn’t do it sooner!

    - Peter and Jackie Storrow, Pembrokeshire
  • Stabiliser cattle are a specialised suckler beef breed with the added bonus of hybrid vigour. The cattle are multi-trait performance recorded to produce EBV’s, this has a huge positive economical effect on our business. All of this is crucial for us to have a financially improving suckler herd on the farm.

    - Harri Parri, Llyn Peninsula
  • We chose the Stabiliser breed for their docility and easy calving traits, but with the added benefit of turning grass into meat. We soon saw all of these traits were true. Our first home bred steers were finished off grass at an average age of 19 months.

    - Dyfed Roberts, Anglesey
  • Despite our rainfall, we outwinter our cows on kale, the stabiliser cow will lay down excess fat, and successfully rear her calf. During the winter considerable cost savings are made. By changing to Stabiliser cattle I keep approximately 50% more cows as they only weigh 650Kgs, which meant more beef being produced.

    - Matthew Cooke, North Devon
  • We started using Stabiliser bulls 20 years ago. The fertility of the breed has enabled us to calve our own heifers at 24 months and reduce our calving period to nine weeks. This together with their good temperament has encouraged us to increase cow numbers. Consequently, the farm is now producing a lot more kilos of beef.

    - Edward and Ellis Griffith, Pwllheli
  • Minimal labour is required at calving time, with easy calving cows and calves up and suckling in no time at all. This gave us the ability to increase our cow numbers with no extra labour. The growth rate of Stabiliser cattle is exceptional, producing high weaning weights whilst converting feed efficiently.

    - John and Ianto Pari, Gwynedd
  • We started using stabiliser genetics in 2016, we have not looked back since, they exceeded all our expectations. Changing to stabilisers has enabled us to calve heifers at 2years old with no problems, cows wean a higher percentage of their body weight, we have increased cow numbers without any need for extra labour.

    - Carys Jones, Camarthenshire
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