ADVANTAGES

The project aims to create low cost intensive grass and forage based system which will maximise stocking rates through the use of intensive rotational grazing and out-wintering on fodder beet. This latter crop will also allow for a higher than expected animal winter growth rate, therefore allowing stock to be finished off grass comfortably at 20-21 months of age. By maintaining a rotational grazing system grass quality will be maintained throughout the season allowing for consistent above average growth rates. The project will look closely at the transition of the autumn born calves firstly to grass with an early turnout in the spring and then the transition of the cattle to the fodder beet. Furthermore the project will aim to finish cattle before they are required to go through a second winter after the first year on fodderbeet. The study involves 35 Hereford x Holstein-Friesian and 35 Holstein-Friesian October born steer calves. The trial started in 2016 and the planned management from birth to slaughter is summarised below:

Calf rearing and pre turnout:
Calves were conventionally reared on restricted milk and concentrates and were bought in with a mean age of 30.1 days. The Herefords (by registered sires) and some Holsteins were sourced from Meadow Quality that couldn’t be supplied from the Harper dairy unit and reared by Marc Jones following the Dunbia rearing protocol. They were weaned after 5 weeks with concentrates and straw being fed changing over to big bale silage and restricted concentrates. They were turned out on the 8th of March with a mean weight of 182kg. The calves were treated with Huskvax prior to turn out.

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