2013-05-07 xml
Monitoring the Cattle Management Plan

Coming to the end of its third and final year, the Northumberland Monitor farm has provided a focus for farmers county wide.

The overall aim has been to improve productivity, sustainability and long term profitability. With the aim of improving the profitability, productivity and sustainability, Key focus areas have included soil structure and fertility, seed selection, efficient management of grazing and forage, sheep and cow breeding and management and improving the housing environment.

Simon Bainbridge

Simon Bainbridge

The next Monitor Farm meeting with guest speaker Basil Lowman, is the final piece in the jigsaw in terms of the Cattle Management Plan - “Cow Efficiency in the Beef Suckler Herd “. Taking place at Donkin Rigg Farm on Tuesday 23rd May at 5.00pm it is the culmination of a three year Suckler Cow Strategy at Donkin Rigg which has involved research, hard work and ongoing development.

During the evening, Monitor Farmer, Simon Bainbridge, will give a review of what has been completed to date and announce the results of the practices that have been put in place. Renowned specialist in beef cattle, Basil Lowman will analyse the results and will cover, issues such as breeding feeding and the importance of having a strategic plan in place.

The aim of the Monitor Farm Project is to improve efficiency and productivity and share successes (and failures) with farmers in Northumberland and beyond. So as always, there will be an open discussion about the impact of the policies and procedures which have been introduced. People will also be able to see first-hand the yearling heifers being put to the bull later in the year and the recently calved heifers with calves at foot.

Simon and his family have faced many challenges since the Monitor Farm was launched and he is pleased to report that this Spring is certainly much better than last Spring:
“For us here at Donkin Rigg, last year’s season was one of the most difficult in history and I am delighted that that this year, so far, things are looking much better and we are already almost a month ahead of last year.

Although scanning pre lambing was back on the year before, as a result of the good weather our lambing percentages are in line with last year. On the cattle side of the business the biggest commercial benefits has been the calving two year old heifers and an all spring calving herd.”

Stocking levels at Donkin Rigg are around 1400 ewes and 140 cows. This spring 65% of cows calved within the first three weeks of a March spring calving. The heifers, calving at two years old were pelvic measured and to date, none have required any hands on assistance. This, Simon is pleased to report, has made a big difference in terms of time, efficiency and money. Another factor which has made a difference includes buying the right type of easy calving bulls specific to Donkin Rigg.

The Northumberland Monitor Farm Project is organised by English Farming and Food Partnerships, EBLEX, Alnorthumbria Vets and the North Northumberland Agricultural Training Association, with generous funding from One North East through Landskills North East - managed by Lantra on behalf of DEFRA, it is part of the Rural Development Programme for England, (RDPE) funded by the European Fund for Rural Development and Defra.


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