Forward creep-grazing with creep gates or electrical wires is a simple strategy suckler strategies may try this yr to help effectivity.

With feed costs becoming eye-watering, the benefits of the system suggest the strategy is worth exploring, explains grassland advisor Poppy Frater, of Scottish Agricultural School Consulting.

“It’s a terrific gadget for suckler strategies,” says Ms Frater, who recommends specializing in entry covers of 10-12cm and residuals of 5cm on a one- to three-day rotation, with 15- to 25-day rests to maximise pasture top quality and grass use.

See moreover: How outwintering scale back suckler farm costs to 243p/kg

She says a single strand {of electrical} wire as a minimum 1m above the underside will comprise cows and allow calves to wander.

“Some potential factors are calves not respecting fences as yearlings, nonetheless farmer experience seems mixed. Watch out for calves knocking posts and dislodging fencing.

“Moreover keep in mind seen boundaries resembling dykes, hedge strains and posts will cut back the opportunity of calves creeping forward.”

Case analysis: Oakwood Mill

Giles Henry in field with cows

Giles Henry © MAG/Michael Priestley

Encouraging calves to forward creep-graze has allowed an pure suckler herd to chop again cow weight by 45kg with out affecting weaning weights.

Over the earlier eight years, Giles Henry of Oakwood Mill, Selkirk, and his son, Stuart, who now holds the tenancy, have seen the pure Luing cows of their Ettrick herd wean further calf as a share of their physique weight.

Farm data

  • 68 pure Luings (Ettrick prefix)
  • Gives Dovecote Park
  • Tenant farmer on Buccleuch Property
  • 114ha (282 acres) of hill rented for outwintering
  • Contract-finishing 45-50 Angus steers
  • 1,222mm of rain/yr

This measure – cow effectivity – has lifted from 33% to 45% all through this period.

Genetics performs a component, says Mr Henry, who has chosen cows that thrive off forage and preserve to the bull in merely six weeks.

He has moreover actively culled out the bigger cows and retained heifers from females with the best weaning effectivity. Nevertheless he says allowing calves to find the sector and cherry-pick the pasture has maintained weaning weights.

The swards have a extreme clover content material materials, as a result of the pure system makes use of no synthetic fertiliser.

“Frequent cow measurement was 605kg this yr,” explains Mr Henry. “A 600kg cow weaning a 250-260kg calf on grass and milk alone is a cow working away properly in my eyes.

“In the event that they’re smaller, I can stock three further cows on the equivalent flooring, and that’s going to lift income.”

Benefits

Along with having better-grown calves at weaning in October, weaning is quieter and quicker, says Mr Henry.

“Calves are conscious of being away from their mother and socialising with their pals, so this has helped weaning, too.”

Weaning is accomplished behind a strong hedge or fence. Cows are walked onto the next paddock and the calves are left grazing the clover and saved once more to wean.

In merely three to five days calves are moved away to latest grass.

Creep-grazing system

Cows are outwintered on a troublesome hill and can be found proper right down to the grazing platform to be rotationally grazed on 1ha paddocks in three-day shifts a day or two sooner than calving begins on 1 April.

A single strand {of electrical} fencing subdivides paddocks using 1m plastic posts. The wire is lifted onto the perfect notch all through lots of the fence to allow calves beneath.

Calves can wander to the next paddock, often from six weeks earlier, and proceed to take motion correct as a lot as weaning. They’re going to uncover correct all through fields, often six paddocks away.

Mr Henry says cows respect the fence, whereas youngstock have no factors with adjusting to being fenced of their first winter when grazing forage crops.

Case analysis: Cowbog Farm

Rob Wilson in field with cows

Rob Wilson © MAG/Michael Priestley

Forward creep grazing calves by means of a creep gate is allowing a Scottish pedigree Hereford herd to calve autumn calvers merely and wean strong calves whereas moderating cow measurement.

The Wilson family at Cowbog Farm, Morebattle, protect September-October-born calves on cows until June, they often graze them from April turnout with a creep gate to allow calves the first resolve of the grass.

Farm data

  • 182ha (450 acres) all through three Roxburghe Property Farms
  • 76.5ha (185 acres) eternal pasture
  • 105ha (259 acres) arable or five-year grass leys
  • 68ha (168 acres) of arable contract farmed
  • 70 purebred Hereford cows
  • 30 Highland-cross Shorthorn recipients for embryo swap
  • On farm agri-tourism at Wilsons Farm and Kitchen

About 45 cows of the 100-head herd, which includes 70 purebred Herefords beneath the Romany prefix, calve throughout the autumn.

They then spend the summer season season grazing with a creep gate throughout the self-discipline to deal with physique scenario ranking and assure easy calvings.

Most bulls (about 75%) come from the elite pedigree autumn-calving herd, so managing this herd successfully is important to herd and farm profitability.

Benefits

The farm makes use of two gates in separate fields – one for the bull calf mob (which is creep fed) and one for heifer calves (not creep fed).

Gates are put all through adjoining fields, or, on greater fields, short-term electrical fencing (single strand) can subdivide the grass and a creep gate is put in with the posts.

The creep gate has been used for 4 years, which has helped cow scenario and calving.

Solely 3% of cows require assist for malpresentations and the farm has recorded merely 4 caesarean sections in 24 years.

Hereford genetics are quite simple fleshing, explains Mr Wilson.

“We protect autumn-born calves on the cows to take care of the cows working,” he explains. “With out calves they may get too fat. And the creep gate means the calves get the best grass, so the cows don’t.”

All cows calve outside, the spring calvers in 10 weeks and the autumn calvers in 12 weeks.

“Cows are calved near the farm the place there is a calving gate. Cow measurement has fallen 30kg to 770kg, nonetheless calf weights have been maintained with creep grazing.”

Totally different benefits:

  • Calves wean behind an electrified eternal fence very quietly and cows are moved to an outlying part of the farm after 4 or 5 days
  • Preferential grazing has allowed weaning weights to be maintained whereas decreasing 30kg off cow measurement, which now averages 770kg

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