Summer Meeting

Summer Meeting


The 2019 BGS Summer Meeting will be in Gloucestershire, with the main accommodation in the Hallmark Hotel, 1st - 3rd July.

BOOKING IS NOW OPEN!!

For booking details click here.

At the start of July we’ll be heading to Gloucestershire with a new format for our Summer Meeting. With two days of varied farm visits, but still including our annual dinner and plenty of opportunity to socialise, there will be something for everyone.

In a change to the traditional timetable, delegates are invited to convene on the evening of Monday July 1 to enjoy our annual dinner and the introductions both to the host region and next year’s host area. The farm walks will begin in earnest the next morning, with three varied units to see. Our base will be the Hallmark Hotel in Gloucester.

Tuesday, July 2
The visits will begin only a short distance from our hotel base, moving a couple of miles to Whitley Court to meet Summer Meeting chair Rob Seex and family. This 110-cow dairy farm is run as an autumn-calving, grass-based system that looks to maximise milk from forage by use of grazing and high quality silage. With an average milk yield of 5982 litres/cow, 4670 litres are achieved from forage, giving an impressively modest feed rate of 0.1 kg/l.

Moving on, our second visit will offer something of a contrast in system.  At Overton Farm in Arlingham, Dave Merrett milks 124 all-year calving cows on a “cut and carry” (zero grazed) system with robotic milking, obtaining around 10,000 litres/cow with around 3200 litres from forage. With around 40ha (100ac) of temporary leys, sward quality is paramount, using mostly high sugar grasses, alongside careful nutrient management. Maize and wheat are also grown, the wheat being combined and urea-treated, whilst there is also a small amount of permanent pasture. Dave aims for around seven months of zero grazing, and takes three to four silage cuts a years with a focus on quality – finding also that focused zero grazing means less is now needed.

Our final visit on Tuesday will be to Owlpen Park Farms, an arable and beef unit run by Steve Evans. The 75-cow suckler beef herd is split into spring- and autumn-calving blocks, grazing two separate areas of undulating permanent pasture totalling approximately 36ha (90ac), much of which is in environmental stewardship. The autumn-calving cows calve outside on freer draining land, whereas the spring calvers are housed approximately a month before calving, being turned out around a week afterwards, weather and conditions permitting. Steve grows approximately 32ha (79 acres) of short-term leys for silage. To help combat blackgrass, he has begun growing the short-term grass as a five-year ley in the arable rotation.

Returning to our base at the Hallmark hotel, members and local society representatives are asked to join us for the AGM, before an informal supper for all. There will be plenty of time to chat and socialise with delegate friends old and new!

Wednesday, July 3
The day will begin with a visit to Rob Richmond at Manor Farm near Chedworth. Rob runs a 300-cow spring-calving organic dairy unit with some beef cattle on around 202ha; the grazing swards are predominantly multi-species (“herbal”) leys containing at least nine plant species, although some stubble turnips and wholecrop are also grown. The farm is also a demonstration farm in the SARIC DiverseForages project led by BGS president Chris Reynolds at Reading University.  The cows calve outdoors despite being high on the Cotswolds; an ingenious straw bale wall and bedding protected them from the elements and maintained healthy stock even through the “Beast from the East last year!

Our final visit will be to the farming business run by Toby Baxter, where Nuffield Scholar Geraint Powell manages the 3600-ewe sheep enterprise. The farm has recently extended into beef, in a business link with Rob Richmond, the cattle being primarily grazed on herbal leys. Operating solely on blocks of rented land rather than entire farms, the business combines arable and livestock production, as both grass and arable rotations but also including permanent pasture. Around 49ha of herbal leys are grown for each livestock enterprise, spread across different land blocks. Lambs from the enterprise are finished entirely from forage, with no concentrate fed.

At the end of this visit we’ll head back to our base to say farewell and depart homewards for another year.

 

Members

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