It’s hard to justify if you can buy it cheaper

HOME-GROWN FEED is essential for livestock producers to be self sufficient whether they farm organically or not, believes Goodwood Estate’s farm manager Karl Barton.

But he admits that it can be hard to justify home-grown proteins in years when they can be bought cheaply. “It costs us in the region of £75/t to get protein crops to harvest, but you can buy prairie meal or soya for £112/t ground and ready to feed, so it’s not viable,” he says.

The 1093ha (2700-acre) estate has been fully organic for just 12 months. It has to feed a 200-cow dairy unit plus followers, a 40-cow suckler herd rearing progeny to 24 months, a 1200-ewe flock and an outdoor pig unit.

Mr Barton says he has cut purchased feed costs to the bone by growing cereals, whole-crop, silage and proteins. Only seaweed, which supplies trace minerals, is now bought in and he is now looking at home-grown alternatives.

“We are now into our second winter of feeding 100% home-grown organic feed, including the dairy herd,” he says. This year’s crops include white and blue lupins, peas, beans and lucerne plus red clover. He thinks producers who can grow grass should be able to grow other feeds, too.