10th July 2012

Home Grown Feed to be Hot Topic at Aberdeenshire Organic Monitor Farm Open Day

Multi-cropping hybrid brassicas will be among the hot topics at the Aberdeenshire Organic Monitor Farm open day and BBQ at Mains of Thornton, Inverurie on Tuesday July 17th.Visitors to the event, which is free and starts at 4pm, will also see the progress of finishing lambs born in February, April and May and hear about maximising grassland performance in low input systems and the mineral supplementation which is important for livestock health in wet seasons.  The farm business, run by the Cooper family, includes around 120 suckler cows and heifers and 950 breeding ewes with 1500 lambs finished.  One of the organic monitor farm themes currently drawing a lot of interest is the work on feed resilience which has been undertaken at the farm. One of the aims of the business is to reduce reliance on bought-in feeds in line with the objective of lowering the cost of the livestock enterprises.  The monitor farm community group have been very keen to trial alternative forages and based on their suggestions lucerne, arable silages and the hybrid brassicas Swift and Redstart are being trialled this year.“We are trying to home produce high quality feeds to reduce our reliance on expensive imports. It is a challenge making sure the nutritional demands for ewes, cows and the finishing cattle and lambs are met properly.  Robert Gilchrist of Keenan UK helps us design the diets so we are interested in the potential of multi-cropping this year,” said Murray Cooper, son of Leslie Cooper, who is responsible for the crops at Mains of Thornton.The multi-cropping idea was raised at a community group discussion in January this year.  Advice has been provided by Iain Eadie of British Seed Houses and Andrew Allan of Don Valley Ltd.  A mix of home-saved seed oats and barley was sown on the 10th May and undersown with the two hybrid brassicas. This will be due to be cut as arable silage 12 weeks after sowing which, if ground conditions allow, will be the first week of August. The hybrid brassicas provide high energy grazing as well as being suitable for silage, and are known for rapid regrowth.  The community group will be closely monitoring how many livestock units can be fed from the 65 acres.Mr Cooper added: “We are expecting the multi-cropping to provide silage for winter feeding, aftermath grazing for finishing lambs, flushing ewes in the late back end and then overwintering for lambs and ewes as well.  I am watching it closely at the moment because the wet summer has hampered our grass silage and these 65 acres could be crucial winter feeding for us.”The meeting is free and open to all but for catering purposes please RSVP by texting facilitator Debs Roberts 0773322 8701.Caption: Murray Cooper who is responsible for the cropping at Mains of Thornton. For more information visit the monitor farm section on www.qmscotland.co.uk/monitorfarms/

EndsFor further press information, contact Carol McLaren, QMS Head of Communications, on 0131 472 4112 or mobile: 07739 900653 email: cmclaren@qmscotland.co.uk www.qmscotland.co.uk


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