Summer Meeting

Summer Meeting

The 2017 BGS Summer Meeting will be in Shropshire, with the main accommodation at Harper Adams University, 10th - 13th July.

Meeting Overview

The base for the meeting will be Harper Adams University at Edgmond near Newport where we will benefit not only from the conference and accommodation facilities but also the opportunity to see some of the agricultural research that is carried out there. Being a student venue, there will also be plenty of opportunity for socialising over a drink after dinner! Accommodation at the college is primarily in single en-suite rooms, with a small number of double and twin rooms available in the main building. For delegates requiring double accommodation, we will supply a list of local hotels and B&Bs.

Registration will begin at 4.30pm on Monday, July 10, with BGS members and nominated representatives from affiliated societies requested to attend the AGM in the Weston Lecture Theatre at 6pm. After this we will have dinner at Harper Adams, with a local speaker providing a flavour of the area we will see over the coming days.

Tuesday, July 11
We will start day one in the north of the county, with our first visit of the summer meeting heading to the Sansaw dairy at Hadnall, near Shrewsbury. This is a spring-calving, grass-based system which will be milking approximately 1450 cows in 2017, managed as three groups and milked through a 70-point rotary parlour.
  The farm was previously managed as a mixed enterprise but converted to a large-scale New Zealand style dairy in 2013, initially with around 1100 cows.

Following this, we will move on to Betton Wood Farm at Market Drayton, the home of Roger and Nicki Tudge who specialise in heifer rearing. Heifers arrive early in the year and remain until around November. The stock  are rotationally grazed in a mob, with the paddocks carefully managed to ensure good quality grass in front of the heifers. Roger and Nicki also have an outdoor chicken unit.

Our afternoon visit will return us to Harper Adams, where the recent and on-going dairy, as well as beef and sheep grass-based research, will be showcased. This helpfully keeps us close to home ready for our annual Gala dinner in the evening. After dinner, the evening’s entertainments will  give those of you wearing the increasingly popular fitness tracker devices the opportunity to record an increased activity count for the day, before retiring for a well-earned relax!

Wednesday, July 12
On our second day of visits, we move south of Shrewsbury beginning the day with James Evans at Partridge Farm near Bishops Castle. James, who was Farmer’s Weekly Beef farmer of the Year in 2012, runs a grass-based enterprise with a herd Stabiliser cattle split into spring and autumn calving blocks. The farm moved to using the breed in 2007 following a complete economic reassessment of the business, when James realised that the continental cross cattle he had been rearing were achieving good prices but with a high cost of production. Careful fertility management, including heat detection and easy-calving cows, are factors in reducing the cost of production.

Later in the morning, we’ll continue to Frodesley Park Farm near Longnor, where John and Edward Higgins run 1300 Suffolk X Mule ewes on an 86ha holding, with lambs finished primarily on grass, using creep feeding and a rotational grazing system. A recognised innovator in grazing management for sheep, Ed was a mentor in the first BGS Grazing Partners project.

After lunch, we will move only a short distance to visit Tim and Louise Downes, at The Farm, Longnor.  The Farm is an organic dairy enterprise, run as a spring-calving grass-based system. Around 150 beef cattle are also finished each year. Tim and Louise farm in partnership with Tim’s parents, former BGS president John, and Chris Downes. Always keen to make improvements to the farm and increase his knowledge, Tim was a Nuffield scholar in 2003 and 2015 OMSCo Farmer of the Year. Interested in the benefits of different herbage species, Tim is also looking at medicinal effects of other plants and is engaged in a project with Harper Adams and the Woodland Trust to investigate how cows may choose to browse certain tree species for medicinal or mineral intake purposes. After the farm walk we will be joined by the alternative tour delegates and remain here for a sociable final evening of local food, drink and entertainment.

Thursday, July 13
Our final day sees us moving to the west of Shrewsbury
 towards the Welsh border. Our first visit is to another former BGS president, David Lee, of Winnington Green Farm near Welshpool. David and his wife Rachel were among the earlier converters to a New Zealand style spring-calving grass-based dairy system.  They now run the farm with their son James and have expanded the herd from 100 cows in 1996 to a little over 400 now. The family have recently taken on more land – a former golf course! – which they are returning to agricultural use for heifer grazing and silage production.

Moving a short way east, our last visit of the meeting is to Julian Evans  at Heath View Farm. Julian farms in partnership with his parents, Rob and Ros Evans, and with his wife Pippa. They began the shift to block calving in around 2000 but, with limited land around the farm, they run an autumn-calving dairy herd of approximately 160 cows, primarily cross-bred Swedish Reds. This allows them to utilise the 32ha (79ac) of ring-fenced land around the farm as a grazing block, with a further 14ha (34ac) of grassland a mile away and 26ha (65ac) of maize grown on contract. Replacements are primarily reared on 20ha (50ac) grass keep.

The farm walk will be followed by lunch, after which we will return to Harper Adams where we will say farewell for another year. Booking forms will be available from early May; the cost for a full BGS member staying at Harper Adams for the whole meeting is expected to be in the region of £360. The alternative tour will run concurrently and take in local places and attractions such as historic Shrewsbury, Attingham Park and Ironbridge Gorge.

For booking and further details - Go to our Summer Meeting listing in the events calendar


2016 in Brittany

The BGS summer meeting will have a departure from the norm this year as we head to Brittany for a taste of grassland farming en France from 19 - 22 June. 


Group photo, BGS Summer Meeting 2016 in Brittany

Please note that booking closed on 08/06/2016

*** Outline of activities and visits ***

On Monday we will visit two dairy farms. Our first stop will be a 55-cow dairy unit near Ruffiac, south-west of Rennes. Production from forage is optimised on this 53.5ha farm, which focuses on quality grass/clover leys as well as utilising Lucerne, tritcale and maize (silage and grain).

The afternoon visit is to Gaec de la Branchette in Argenture du Plessis, east of Rennes. This organic dairy farm run by the Lemesle family has 180 cows over 180ha, with a diversified enterprise also producing organic breads and offering holiday accommodation.

Later on, we have an evening visit arranged to the Cité du Lait (city of milk) dairy museum, Lactopole. The BGS AGM will take place after the tour at 7.30pm, followed by a buffet supper with wine.

On Tuesday we will have three farm visits. Our morning and early afternoon visits will be to beef farms, whilst later we will move on to a dairy farm with robotic milking. After dinner near our hotel, there will be an opportunity to go into the centre of Rennes to enjoy the festivities and music performances that will mark Music Day in France.

On Wednesday morning we will visit the Normandy Chambre Régionale d'Agriculture experimental farm at St Lô, before continuing our journey to Cherbourg for the afternoon ferry to Portsmouth. 

There isn't a parallel alternative tour this year, but we will be incorporating social aspects into the summer meeting schedule. Being there at the same time as Music Day, which is celebrated in towns and villages alike with a variety of musical happenings, means that we can add some very local entertainment to the mix! 

Members can find initial details on page 8 of the 2016 Spring edition of Grass and Forage Farmer, available here. Or on page 6 of the Summer edition.

*** Notice 24.05.2016 - TWIN ROOM We are looking for a male to take a place in a shared twin room. If you don't mind, and would like to benefit from the discounted rate available for sharing please select the relevant option on the booking form and indicate in the booking notes. Thank you *** 

Misc Publications
Publication Download
BGS Summer Meeting 2016 Booking Form


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