Rising cereal prices are pushing more farmers to consider moving to more grass-fed systems.

According to Robert Gilchrist, CEO at the Aberdeen-Angus Cattle Society, finishing cattle off grazed grass and forage could be a more sustainable business model to provide protection against volatile commodity markets, while boosting environmental credentials.

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“During March, feed wheat prices were 39% up on March 2021 and ex farm prices are now over £300 per tonne. Coupled with widespread input inflation, this has exposed the vulnerability of the beef sector,” said Mr Gilchrist.

The CEO went on to say: “Despite the average cost of grazing and silage production going up, grass and forage remain an exceptionally good value feed option. Adopting managed grazing strategies and cutting silage earlier to improve quality, will help maximise the potential of grass in finishing systems, lowering, and potentially eliminating the need for concentrate feeds,.”

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Mr Gilchrist cites research which shows switching from a set stocked system to a rotational grazing system has been shown to improve grass utilisation by 56%, while operating a paddock system could allow 80% of the available grass to be utilised, considerably more than the 50% typically achieved in set stocking systems.”