Profit From Grass

Stephen Thorne – Cornwall Profit From Grass farmer

STEPHEN Thorne will be a familiar face to those who followed the Profit from Grass series last year.

Farming in a family partnership he helps run 75 Limousin cross Friesian suckler cows and 330 Charollais and Lleyn ewes, running over a total of 112 hectares (280 acres), near Launceston, Cornwall.

Lambing started in early March and calving is due to start at the beginning of April. Half the sucklers are out-wintered on kale and came in earlier this month on to woodchip corrals. These are being fed three-year-old silage, which is still good feed despite its age, says Stephen.

“We went into winter having hammered the grazing right out; I didn’t want too much cover in early spring. We’ve applied slurry to 20 acres of grazing ground and also to two fields we plan to cut for silage.

“In addition, 27 units/acre N was applied to 20 acres of grazing ground in late February when a contractor was on-farm applying P and K to arable ground.

“Everything appears to be greening up nicely as it’s been so mild. I keep a check on grass growth using a plate meter and the initial readings suggest covers of 2,100kg DM/ha.

“We have over-seeded one field, which we intend to cut for silage, having applied lime and topped up with P and K before winter.”

Most of the cattle go out to grass in late March and the heifers will begin calving in early April. Any female calves not required as replacements are sold as suckled calves; the male calves left entire are finished on-farm and sold the following summer.

“We do grow a small amount of cereal to supplement the grass. This year we have 20 acres of spring barley going in and 20 acres of winter oats that will be crimped and 20 acres of triticale to be stored in a grain silo.

“One event we have pencilled in for this summer is an Eblex farm walk. It is an opportune time to look at grassland pests and diseases and to discuss how our grass is holding up compared to others. Normally it does well and we’ve not suffered with drought.”

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