The Project

  • lucerne for silage

    lucerne for silage

  • beef cattle indoors feeding on silage

    beef cattle indoors feeding on silage

  • grazing turnip "Appin"

    grazing turnip "Appin"

  • lambs grazing lucerne

    lambs grazing lucerne

  • experimental field plots at IBERS, Aberystwyth

    experimental field plots at IBERS, Aberystwyth

  • dairy cattle indoors feeding on silage

    dairy cattle indoors feeding on silage

  • lucerne for silage

    lucerne for silage

  • beef cattle indoors feeding on silage

    beef cattle indoors feeding on silage

  • grazing turnip "Appin"

    grazing turnip "Appin"

  • lambs grazing lucerne

    lambs grazing lucerne

  • experimental field plots at IBERS, Aberystwyth

    experimental field plots at IBERS, Aberystwyth

  • dairy cattle indoors feeding on silage

    dairy cattle indoors feeding on silage

With the rising costs of fertilisers, fuels and feed, especially protein, developing the efficient use of home- grown forage crops and tackling the barriers to their use, from establishment to feeding strategies, is essential for the future of the UK ruminant livestock sectors.

Ruminant farmers in the UK are under increasing pressure to maximise use of grassland-based systems to feed livestock. Forage proteins such as red clover and lucerne have been proven to improve feed intake, feed conversion efficiency and increase productivity among ruminants.

Project Aims:

  • To develop sustainable, cost effective blueprints for ruminant grassland systems based on home-grown forages.
  • To encourage and improve the use of such protein crops on beef, sheep and dairy farms in the ruminant supply chains.
  • To reduce reliance on imported, concentrate protein feedstuffs.
  • To determine the financial and carbon impact of home-grown protein forages
  • To use farmer-led trials and University R & D to find sustainable, efficient systems that suit producers.

Project Activities:

Commercial Development Farms - eight farmers across the UK, representing a range of farm types and environments, undertook farm based projects to find solutions to some of the challenges of incorporating home-grown protein crops in their systems.  Activities ranged from alternative establishment methods to improved harvesting, conservation and feeding strategies. Each farm focused on different techniques and approaches and all were involved in monitoring crop and animal performance regularly.

Experimental plot scale work - farm activities were linked to experimental research at Aberystwyth University’s Institute of Biological, Environmental and Rural Sciences (IBERS).  Here researchers sought to address themes from cultivation, harvesting and conservation, through to feeding strategies, in a scientifically rigorous manner to validate and inform innovative activities on farm.

Sustainable, efficient – the economic and environmental effects of the different strategies was evaluated through annual assessment of farm production and operations costs and greenhouse gas emissions inventories as well as using the Bangor University Carbon Footprinting tool.  Together these enabled an overall assessment of the potential economic and environmental impact of wider adoption of successful innovative forages through the supply chain.