Feed Planning for Cattle and Sheep

A feed plan for your cattle or sheep can make your farm run more sustainably. There is potential for cost savings and greater profitability at the same time as improving the environment through reducing nutrient losses to the atmosphere and water. The feed planning approach can help bring things together on the farm, linking the environment with the health of your cattle and the profitability of your farm.

On a very cold day at the beginning of March I visited one of LEAF’s members, beef farmer Stephen Hobbs at Rectory Farm in Buckinghamshire.  The reason for my visit was actually related to the launch of the Tried & Tested ‘Feed Planning for Cattle and Sheep’ guide on Thursday at the Beef Expo (23rd May).  LEAF is one of the organisations in the professional nutrient management group and has been involved in putting together the new guide.

Stephen Hobbs

Stephen Hobbs, Rectory Farm

The guide has been designed to help farmers identify the energy requirements for animal groups and work through an energy balance sheet, accounting for what can be grown on farm and feeds that are bought in.  I was visiting Stephen to film a short video to illustrate how the guide works in practice and to showcase some of the benefits of this approach. You can see this video below.

We talked through the whole process from start to finish, taking a bottom up approach to feed planning by starting with the amount of energy required by the cattle and the amount of energy Stephen can produce on the farm.  The process revealed some interesting results, “After working through the process and the energy balance sheet, I found that I actually had a positive energy balance. This means I should probably be buying in less feed or looking to increase my stock numbers.”

“The Tried & Tested feed plan helps me with Integrated Farm Management by creating a ‘whole farm’ approach. This new guide fits nicely between the original booklets ‘Nutrient Management Plan’ and ‘Think Manures’.  It really is the meat in the sandwich!”

Copies of Feed Planning for Cattle and Sheep , alongside the other Tried & Tested nutrient management tools, will be available to farmers and advisers after Beef Expo via the Tried & Tested website, by emailing nutrient.management@nfu.org.uk,  or  by leaving a telephone request on voicemail by calling 02476 858896.

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