Friday 18 December 2020An Award-Winning Beef Operation
Set among the rolling hills of South Yorkshire, New Grange Farm has been worked by the Crapper family for four generations. But this isn’t just a time-honoured operation, it’s a forward-thinking one, too. Mark Crapper – who runs the farm along with parents John and Sue and brother Matt – is a silver-award winner in the beef innovator of the year category at the 2020 British Farming Awards.
How things work at New Grange Farm
The family’s beef finishing system is a modern enterprise. As the surrounding land doesn’t lend itself to successful grazing, the cattle are safely housed in well ventilated spacious sheds. These are designed with practicality and the wellbeing of the animals in mind. Internal passageways make feeding and access easy and efficient.
Around 450 to 550 animals are kept on the farm at any one time. A constant flow of new stock is bought from auctions in the north, with the family travelling as far as Penrith and Lancaster to get the right beasts. The aim is to bring on mature Angus and continental cattle at around 18 months old and finish them effectively within 100 days.
(Image - Farmers Guardian)
The importance of feed
When seeking ways to make improvements to the New Grange operation, Mark turned his focus to feed. He wanted to ensure his livestock received a palatable and nutritious ration, at a price that would improve the farm’s bottom line.
Growing grass is expensive on the tenant farm due to the land been
previously used for mining, meaning maize is the more economical option for their farming system. Using home-grown maize silage or bought-in crimped maize as the primary feed, Mark completes the ration with distiller’s dried grains, some grass silage and Duynie brewers grains.
The brewers grains have been in the New Grange Farm mix for two years and are valued for the affordable protein they add to the total mixed ration, as well as their obvious palatability. As they’re moist, they also help bind the ration to drive intakes. The grains are stored in an outside bunker and simply patted down to remove air and improve shelf life. The ingredients are mixed as a TMR in a Strautmann feeder wagon.
(Image - Farmers Guardian)
Benefits to the system
Introducing brewers grains into the beef herd’s carefully formulated diet was a simple transition, with the cattle taking to it easily and without any problems. Previously, rolled barley and silage were offered in ring feeders, so transitioning to a TMR did mean new kit was needed. Previously working towards the DLWG of 1.5kg/day before improving the farm facilities. They are now achieving 1.6kg/day and pushing up to 1.69kg/day in recent months proving to be a worthwhile investment.
Mark says “I use brewers grains to add protein to the diet and bind what would be a very dry ration. The grains are very palatable, driving intakes and
helping achieve our goals. They’re also cost-effective and better value for money.”
Beef finishing on New Grange Farm is a closely managed operation. Getting the best performance out of their animals in a short timeframe is vital if the family is to achieve the turnover of livestock it needs. Supporting this performance with co-product feed in their TMR is just one reason why Mark and the rest of the Crapper family have been justly recognized as innovators by the British Farming Awards.