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Testing Times – Winter Cattle Management (Isle of Harris) – Event summary

4 December 2017

Winter Cattle ManagementA group of people in a field, on a cloudy day with cattle eating silage beside them

There was a good representation of Harris and Lewis cattle producers who attended the meeting at West Harris Trust hall at Talla-na-Mara.  Angus Mackay, who crofts at Scaristavore and on the island of Taransay, kindly allowed a tour of his newly established Aberdeen Angus herd on the machair land at Nisabost giving the specialists and crofters an opportunity to discuss cattle management and nutrition in an open harsh climate.

Nutrition Strategies

Sustaining cattle health can be achieved by good management of the resources available. As feed prices have soared and Gavin Hill, Senior Beef Consultant SAC explained the importance of testing silage and ensuring that animals are been fed a quality diet that meets the animals requirements but takes account of costs and target markets. An arable silage produced on the holding utilising Uist Oats had been sampled as well as balancing this with a new draff supply been produced by the Harris Distillery. Assessment showed how a well produced forage crop and balanced ration could meet the cattle’s requirements on the hill.

Key take home winter feeding points:

  • Know your stock – assess their weight and body conditionA small group of people standing beside round bales, discussing winter feeding of cattle
  • Know your feeds – assess the quality and be aware of the animals requirements
  • Forward Planning – look to improve home grown forages through new or renewed reseeds and when to crop

Cattle Health Management

Tim Geraghty, SAC Aberdeen Veterinary Centre Manager, engaged the crofters in assessing their health planning and testing. The crofters high health status in the Western Isles is well known and crofters where encouraged to continue to work on focusing to work together to ensure this status is maintained. The utilisation by many groups in the crofting communities of the Scottish Government Bull Stud at Knocknagael offers crofters access to quality genetics with many of the progeny going to Mainland finishers as quality Scottish beef. Discussion focused on strengthening the health testing in the crofting communities, encouraging management anFarming For a Better Climate logod retention of high health status and to utilise this health status to improve market returns.

Handouts from this meeting are available to download below.

Maximising liveweight output from a carefully managed feeding regime can help reduce your farm carbon footprint.  Having an efficient system can also lead to better profitability.  To read more on how to reduce your carbon outputs or to read what other farmers have done, visit Farming For a Better Climate



Related Downloads
Testing Times event – Industry update presentation slides
This is a copy of the presentation slides used at the 'Testing Times - Winter Cattle Management' meetings held on the Isles of Harris & Lewis in December 2017
Topics: Climate Change and Livestock
Testing times event – ‘Draff as a feed choice’ presentation slides
These presentation slides look at Draff as a feed choice for winter cattle management. They were used as part of the 'Testing Times - Winter Cattle Mangement' events held on the Isles of Harris & Lewis in December 2017
Topics: Climate Change and Livestock
Draff – a feed specification sheet
This is a feed information sheet about Draff as an animal feed
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Practical Guide: Improving Shed Ventilation for the Beef Herd
This practical guide looks at maximising performance of housed beef cattle by improving ventilation in buildings.
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Practical Guide: Silage Testing: Interpreting the Results
This practical guide looks at helping to maximise performance of housed cattle by improving the use of silages.
Topics: Climate Change
Carbon Footprinting in the Beef Herd
Carbon Footprinting in the Beef Herd: A practical guide
Technical Note (TN634): Ensuring Good Welfare of Outwintered Cattle
Technical Note (TN677): Treatment and Control of Liver Fluke in Sheep and Cattle
The number of disease outbreaks due to the liver fluke Fasciola hepatica has increased in recent years with unprecedented numbers of sheep affected in 2012/13.
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QMS Guide to improving suckler herd fertility
Managing and improving the fertility of your suckler herd is one of the key ways to improve cow margins and hence business profitability. This booklet from QMS is designed to help you assess your herd’s fertility and identify scope for improvement, and provides ideas you can put into practice on your farm.
An open bale of silage and the farmer taking a silage sample for analysis

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