Outwintering saves up to £40 per cow

Farmers could save up to £40 per cow through outwintering, according to new research by Quality Meat Scotland (QMS).

A three-year trial with the Scottish Agricultural College (SAC) investigated the suitability of low-cost, self-feeding outwintering systems for cattle. Results were made public at the Lanark Scottish Beef Fayre.

Various systems were investigated over two years at SAC farms on the Bush Estate, after which the trial was rolled out to three large commercial units to allow farmers across Scotland to see for themselves how outwintering cattle could work in their area.

QMS technical projects manager, Johnny Mackey, said: "Given the average position of a negative net margin for suckler cow production when support payments are excluded from the calculation, targeting efficiency work is an important focus for our research and development work.

"One of the main aspects of the trial was comparing the costs of wintering spring-calving suckler cows outside in a self-feeding system against the costs of a control group of standard in-wintered suckler cows.

"With savings of up to £40 per cow, this work has contributed significantly towards helping move the costs of Scottish beef production to a positive net margin."

The report can be found on the QMS website, www.qmscotland.co.uk