Cover crops, cereals and grazing
A few days ago I was talking to a livestock farmer who was keen to expand potential avenues within this sector he knew. It was clear that this person had the skills and enthusiasm together with the vision to developing livestock genetics in order to suit this system and gain a realistic return.
So where are these opportunities? Well, potentially they do exist upon many arable units, as having a mixed farm operation has again become a recognised priority for the future viability of cereal growing. With the revitalised interest in utilising cover crops within cereal rotations, driven by objectives to do with healthier soils, nutrient/chemical management and dealing with more prolific weeds, livestock becomes a more indispensable asset in achieving this system.
However, it must be recognised that the benefits are not all one sided. This grazing will also be advantageous for the livestock farmer as they will get additional land and forage to graze through the possible leaner months, so saving on additional fodder and feed supplements. Having quality, suitable grazing at this time will also benefit breeding ewes allowing them to increase their nutrient intake and body condition prior to and during breeding, therefore promoting the rate of ovulation, the process is commonly known as flushing.
Bringing livestock and arable farmers together should be viewed as an opportunity as it harnesses the expertise that each can offer and due to this it should be viewed as a working partnership rather than just a rental agreement. However, as part of any solid agreement each party should enter into some sort of licence agreement in order to ensure clarity of the responsibilities and liabilities for all involved. Having this, along with regular liaison with your grazier, should ensure the longevity of a sustainable and advantageous agreement.