Beef Efficiency Scheme: Autumn Events
Autumn events to help farmers and crofters optimise winter nutrition and grazing availability
In response to concerns that this year’s weather conditions will result in Scottish farmers and crofters facing feed and fodder shortages this winter, Scottish Government has opened this autumn’s Beef Efficiency Scheme events for all farmers and crofters to attend.
These events will provide advice and guidance on how to provide plentiful food over winter, maintain the wellbeing of livestock and optimise beef enterprise performance.
SAC livestock experts will deliver a session on cattle nutrition to release genetic potential and optimise beef enterprise performance. There is wide variation in silage quality between farms and across years. This is compounded by variability in the weather, further impacting quality, yield, cow body condition score and calf performance. This presentation will cover:
- Setting the scene: Weather variation over recent years and its impact on body condition and winter rationing and how these factors present significant risk to fertility and performance.
- Variables that affect nutritional demands and why this means no two years are the same. Understanding changes in demand over the winter, including the forage, energy and mineral requirements through pregnancy and weaning.
- Interpreting the key components of a forage analysis and assessing the silage clamp. This will include forage budgeting and the significance of dry matter.
- Balancing nutritional requirements with this year’s forage quality and stocks and adapting nutritional needs within existing housing systems.
- Undertaking cow body condition assessments and using this as a management tool via targeted nutrition. Gauging body condition score from delegates and how this impacts factors such as production, fertility and lameness.
- Setting targets for weaned calves and presenting the right nutrition. Minimising growth checks through management and nutrition.
- Interpreting the feed label and reviewing the ration to ensure it is being fed and performs as expected.
5 Agri specialists Ian Cairns, James Hadwin and Rhidian Jones will deliver workshops on soil and grassland management. The event will provide guidance to help farmers respond to the challenging conditions faced this year with winter storms and a late spring followed by a summer drought. Attention to the basics of soil and grassland management goes a long way to building the resilience required to withstand these challenging weather conditions. Among the topics covered will be:
- Importance of soil structure and drainage, correcting pH and nutrient deficiencies to ensure high forage production and to extend the grazing season.
- Deciding on when a sward needs renewing, choosing the correct seed mixture and methods of sward renewal. Much of our grassland is of low production potential and often dry matter yields can be doubled by sward renovation.
- Managing extensive, low input or upland grazing for best livestock performance and winter feed supply.
- The pros and cons of various grazing systems including implementing a rotational grazing system to increase the useable yield of grass and improve the quality of the grass being grazed.
- Conservation of grass for winter feeding and best practice to optimise yield and quality and minimise losses. This is very important when feed is in short supply.
- Forage crop options for extending the grazing season and providing winter feed for livestock.
See below for a full list of all the available events:
Those in the Beef Efficiency Scheme are required to attend one event this Autumn as part of the scheme requirements.