Video: Beet and grass mix gives 57p/day winter for grazier

There are many advantages to outwintering cattle and sheep on a weight loss program of forage grass and beet.

We converse to sheep and beef farmer James Drummond in Alnwick and farmer Paul Allison in County Durham about their grazing methods.

See additionally: How to develop higher fodder beet – 5 professional suggestions

James Drummond

Grazing forage by the winter with out the necessity to begin a tractor has minimize wintering prices for a Northumberland sheep and beef farm.

The 2021-22 winter is the third yr the Drummonds, of Lemmington Hill Head, Alnwick, have grown fodder beet for their cattle.

During the primary winter, they put bales alongside one aspect of the beet space to offer fibre for wholesome rumen perform.

The previous two winters, nevertheless, noticed additional experimentation, with the fibre coming from grazed grass.

James Drummond, who farms along with his father, Tony, stresses that area selection is essential however outwintering is worth it because it prices solely 28p-57p a head a day to take cattle by the winter.

Watch the video of James Drummond demonstrating his cattle system and learn the remainder of the report under.

Farm info: Lemmington Hill Head

  • 60 cows and 25 heifers, with calving at two years
  • 1,500 ewes tupped, together with 400 ewe lambs
  • Nucleus flock for Innovis – bought 280 tups final yr
  • 220ha (544 acres) on an Agricultural Holdings Act tenancy


The land runs north to south alongside a slight ridge. The prime of the ridge, close to the primary highway, is used for outwintering sheep and cattle, whereas the lower-lying components are used for lambing and leader-follower grazing in the summertime. 

The farm has 5 sheep wintering blocks. These are grazed for 4 years with winter crops (fodder beet) adopted by six years in natural leys.

Three cattle wintering blocks are presently run on a six-year cycle comprising a three-year natural ley, a winter of bale grazing with deferred natural ley grazing, and two years of beet and grass for outwintering.

Farmer with cattle eating fodder beet

James Drummond © MAG/Michael Priestley

Each of the cattle blocks is 8ha (20 acres). For the ultimate two years of the cycle, 4ha (10 acres) of beet and 4ha (10 acres) of grass are rotated round every block.

The rotation is firstly beet and grass, and then the crops are “flipped over”, rising grass and beet at a 50:50 ratio for the cattle, in the identical area.

This yr, 35 yearlings and 26 weaned calves had been outwintered individually on 4 lanes consisting of 1ha (2.5 acres) of beet and 1ha (2.5 acres) of grass.

The beet selection Geronimo was tried for winter 2021-22. This is drilled late in April to keep away from frosts which may result in bolters, explains Mr Drummond.

The grass half of the sphere is drilled with winter-hardy Westerwolds, Italian ryegrasses and clovers (purple, Egyptian and crimson).

It is silaged twice in the summertime to make winter feed for late-gestation ewes.

A beet lifter has been used to transition the cattle to beet in quite a lot of methods whereas avoiding acidosis.

One means was to transition younger (R1) cattle onto beet at grass in November whereas nonetheless on their moms.

Now, they’re weaned earlier than transition: they’re housed for 10-12 days and fed beet and hay, then turned onto the crop as soon as they’re consuming three to 4 beet a day.

“The important thing is that rumens are conditioned to eating it, and it takes longer the older the cattle are,” says Mr Drummond.


  • Less compaction Because no bales are wanted, this implies much less tractor work
  • Good for public picture Cattle have a pleasant dry lie within the grass and may be walked right down to the underside finish of the sphere and grazed uphill to the highway. This means the general public driving alongside the highway see the crop, slightly than grazed, brown residual for many of the winter
  • Wildlife Having two crops within the area creates a extra various habitat for wildlife. Clovers are filled with bugs in the summertime and present cowl for birds
  • Animal welfare Grass is a decrease dry matter (DM) crop than beet, however this implies each fence transfer is additional than it will be for a area of 100% beet, to make sure enough dry matter is supplied. This has the additional benefit of giving cattle extra space and ends in much less poaching.

Beet is the costlier of the 2 crops to develop. Last yr a micronutrient package deal, a pre-emergent herbicide, an insecticide and a later herbicide had been utilized.

Crop prices



Intakes and day by day prices

Rent £145/ha

Seed £190/ha

Drilling (contractor, consists of gas) £55/ha

Fertiliser £191/ha

Sprays £180/ha

Total £761/ha

Cost/kg dry matter (DM) = 2.5p at 30t DM/ha yield or 4.2p at 18t DM/ha yield

Rent £145/ha

Seed £104/ha

Drilling (contractor, consists of gas) £55/ha

Total £304/ha

Yield quantities to 1.5t grazed and 10.5t baled silage the earlier summer season for late gestation ewes = 2.5p/kg DM (earlier than summer season contractor prices for sheep silage)

  • Yearling (R2 cattle)
  • 500kg at 3% of liveweight as dry matter consumption = 15kg DM
  • Beet consumption is 12.75kg, which at about 4p/kg DM = 51p/day
  • Grass consumption at 2.25kg DM, which at 2.5p/kg DM = 5.6p/day
  • Total price = 56.6p/day earlier than factoring in price of fences and labour
  • Younger weaned (R1) cattle are cheaper as they’re half the scale and intakes are about half

Paul Allison

Low Harperley, Wolsingham, County Durham

Weardale farmer Paul Allison experimented this winter with a 50:50 beet and grass crop as an inexpensive wintering possibility for ewes and weaned heifers at Low Harperley, the place he breeds Salers cattle and runs Lleyn ewes.

Farmer holds a fodder beet root

Paul Allison © MAG/Michael Priestley

He was anxious the ewes weren’t getting sufficient protein.

His vet took blood samples for a metabolic profile of the sheep in late January, and the report instructed they had been protein-deficient, so Mr Allison allotted ewes further grass inside the area.

Another blood check in mid-February confirmed the change had not fully mounted the issue, so Mr Allison allowed the ewes to run again to an adjoining grass area to entry a canopy of two,750kg dry matter (DM)/ha and increase protein within the weight loss program.

Next yr he plans to drill 60-70% of the wintering area as grass, with the remainder as beet.

“Ewe intakes started at about 1.2kg DM a day and finished on about 2kg DM,” he mentioned. “I’ve found the key to grazing beet is a long feed face, so sheep have one row of beet a day to minimise trampling.”

Close-up of grass and beet growing

© MAG/Michael Priestley


  • Low price Stock are outwintered with out costly silage, saving about £15-£20 a bale
  • Less waste With no want to maneuver the electrical wire previous silage bales, day by day shifts may be optimised and much less leaf is trampled
  • Less labour There are not any bales to maneuver, unwrap or be attacked by birds within the autumn, saving on mess, trouble and area compaction
  • High protein The grass a part of the weight loss program is excessive in protein which balances the high-energy beet. A moist chemistry evaluation discovered the Westerwolds was 26% crude protein. In July the identical area produced 17% crude protein silage

Wintering system

  • Field measurement 8ha (20 acres) with 4ha (10 acres) beet and 4ha (10 acres) grass
  • Yield The beet half of the sphere produced 20t DM/ha; the grass half did 10t DM/ha (5t DM/ha as silage)
  • Carrying 370 ewes from mid-December to late March and 60 weaned heifers from late January to May
  • Species Lactemo beet, a lower-yielding, taller bulb selection, and winter-hardy Westerwolds grass
  • Rotation The 8ha (20 acre) block has water troughs and fencing for strip-grazing so is used for wintering frequently. The tough plan is to develop beet and grass, then grass and beet, and then swedes, in rotation. As beet is just not a brassica, there is no such thing as a clubroot danger

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