New guide highlights livestock opportunities for arable farmers

The numerous opportunities for collaboration between arable and livestock enterprises have been highlighted in a new guide issued by AHDB.

With both the economic and environmental sustainability of UK farming systems under the microscope, the ‘Livestock and the arable rotation’ guide looks to inspire farmers to work together for mutual benefit.

The guide covers the extensive opportunities available, including the grazing of arable land, growing crops for silage or hay and arranging muck-for-straw deals.

Targeted at managers of arable-based systems who are thinking about such opportunities for the first time, the publication can be downloaded and picked up at several key events taking place this summer.

The guide includes sections on leys, cover crops, forage crops, maize, outdoor pig production and manures. Key points to consider when making formal agreements are also covered.

Dr Liz Genever, from AHDB Beef & Lamb, said: “Efficient livestock systems require a supply of quality grass and forage. Arable enterprises can play an important role in diversifying the feed sources available to livestock farmers.

“Where there’s a livestock enterprise, there’s an opportunity. Those opportunities can range from the relatively simple, such as exchanging muck for straw, to more complex rental agreements.”

Teresa Meadows, from AHDB Cereals & Oilseeds, said: “Many arable farmers want to optimise the long-term productivity of their land and this means getting the rotation right.

“Working with livestock enterprises can help diversify income streams, spread production risks and play a role in improving soil health and reducing weed burdens.”

The guide includes several case studies to illustrate the advantages of working in partnership. In one case study, for example, a 31 pence per head per day saving was made by outwintering dairy heifers on a brassica forage crop, compared to housing the animals.

The guide provides top-line information and signposts to numerous resources that provide the detail necessary to forge specific agreements.

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About The Author

John Swire - Editor of Agronomist and Arable Farmer as well as responsibility for the Agronomist and Arable Farmer and Farm Business websites. After 17 years milking cows on the family farm John started writing about agriculture in 1998 and has since written for a variety of publications and has developed a wide circle of contacts within the industry. When not working John is a season ticket holder at Stoke City and also of late has become a fitness freak, listing cycling, swimming and walking as his exercises of choice.