Booths at Cushieston

8th July 2019

The Booth family, Graham, Kathleen, Kyle (11) and Emma (4), farm at Lower Cushieston, Inverurie. They have sown 115 acres of spring barley this year, Sassay and Lorriet.

They try to get most away for malting, but need 80T for their own use. Combining is done by a contractor. The Booths grow pea silage undersown with grass. This is usually cut in July, and made into bales. Graham said, “I decided to use this to get more bulk of silage, and think that the cows are more satisfied with the pea silage, which analyses out well.”

Grass is in a rotation and it is ploughed down every four or five years. This year there is 24 acres of grass silage. “We usually take two cuts, and got a second cut of grass silage after the peas last year.” Graham makes all the silage into bales, and gets a contractor in to wrap it. “We don’t usually make hay but might make some this year off of set aside parks, because we usually buy hay in for additional feeding for the cows.”  

There are 32 Simmy and Limmy cross cows, and 80 store stirks (Charolais, Simmies, Limmies) are bought in from Thainstone or Huntly in the spring. They are bought at 350-400 kg. They are housed until there is sufficient grass growth in the spring, and then put out to grass. 30-40 of these stores are sold off the grass at Thainstone as conditioned stores about 550 kg. The remainder, and Graham’s own calves, are brought in around September/October. They are sold at Thainstone at the end of February around 550-650 kg.

Graham uses a Hereford bull, “The cows calve easily and the calves have a lot of vigour. The Hereford cross fleshes very well, putting on weight at grass.” Cows calve in the spring, from March until the end of May. Some of the heifers are put back out to grass with next year’s stores and grazed over the summer, then sold at 17 months, “Some of these are bought for bulling heifers”.

The cows are housed in November and get ad lib silage, pea silage, and straw pre-calving. This is mixed in a tub feeder. Alkagrain is added to the ration post-calving. ”I find that the pea silage keeps the cows’ condition good.”

At grass, the stores get a grazing mineral and Himalayan rock salt. “Before housing, they get a little Alkagrain fed through the feed cart.” Once housed they get the same forage mixture as the cows, and Alkagrain ad lib in a hopper. “I used to treat the barley with propcorn and buy a protein mineral, but when I read that the Milnes were treating barley with Home n’ Dry, I thought I would try it, and have been delighted with the results. Robbie has been bruising barley here for ten years and adds the Home n’ Dry to our barley, which we then cover for two weeks while the Home n’ Dry raises the protein of the grain and turns it into Alkagrain.” Graham is very pleased with the results, “The treated grain is rocket fuel and folk at the mart comment on how well the cattle are looking.” ECV Nutritionist Rebecca Stuart said, “Graham has saved money on the cost of treating his barley, and no longer needs to buy expensive protein concentrates. Customers feeding Alkagrain regularly achieve DLWGs of 1.8kg or better. The alkaline nature of Alkagrain makes it a very safe feed.” Graham added, “I have no problems with laminitis or acidosis on the ad lib Alkagrain.”

“We were 150 bales of straw short last year, but the DLWG of the cattle is much better with the Alklagrain, so we got the cattle away quicker, which was a big saving. Feeding more of my home- grown cereals is much better.”  Graham treated 80T last year. “The barley was treated at 18-20% moisture which was much better than in 2017, when it was coming off the combine at 27%!! I’m planning on using Home n’ Dry again this year. Robbie and James are very efficient, and do a tidy job.”

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