Cornwall Strategic Farm launch event report - 22.10.19

Strategic Farm Launch Event, Tuesday 22 October 2019

Speakers: Adrian Coombe (host farmer), Leah Shanks (AHDB) and David Pett (AHDB - Benchmarking)

Workforce: Adrian works full time on the farm and employs another three members of staff part time

 Flock management at Dupath Farm

The flock at Dupath Farm consists of 594 North Country Mules consists of 443 ewes, as well as 151 ewe lambs bought in annually from one source. As Dupath Farm is currently involved with the AHDB RamCompare project, various ram breeds are used. All lambing occurs indoors between the end of February and the end of April. Finished lambs are sold deadweight through Dunbia.

 Adrian shared his FarmBench report showing the difference in cost of production (COP) for ewes and ewe lambs, comparing 2018 to 2019.

  • Lamb COP at £1.62/kg was favourable
  • Lamb mortality was in line with the national average of 2-3%
  • A Daily Live Weight Gain (DLWG) of 0.25kg/day for reared lambs was impressive and reflected by a high average weight at weaning of 35kg. Adrian achieved this by focussing on genetics and by taking advantage of a good grass-growing season by means of a rotational grazing system.
  • Lambing losses from scanning to weaning of 16% could be improved to meet the national average of 10-15%

 Main priorities and challenges

Adrian stated his flock has experienced problems with Caseous Lymphadenitis (CLA) and Ovine Pulmonary Adenocarcinoma (OPA). The farm has triple resistance which was diagnosed over 10 years ago. Lambs are wormed dependent on forecast and results of September Faecal Egg Count (FEC). All bought in stock are wormed on arrival and quarantined. All health protocols are decided with advice from his vet.

 The main priorities for Dupath Farm are:

  • Continue to benchmark to inform business decisions
  • Improve grassland management and utilisation
  • Improve the quality of grazing
  • Set up a rotational grazing system for cattle
  • Improve the management of ewe lambs to regain condition after lambing

 Discussion points

  • Getting access to water in all paddocks was acknowledged as a challenge, the audience suggested Adrian apply to the Countryside Stewardship Scheme (CSS) to fund additional water supply.
  • The audience suggested Adrian identify the cost attributed to the tame lambs and quantify the non-cost benefits.
  • Discussion over whether to continue lambing ewe lambs or wait until shearlings. Opinions were mixed.
  • Discussion over whether oats need to be fed at tupping and whether a more cost-effective approach would be to evaluate grazing available on a field-by-field basis.
  • Discussion over permanent pasture paddocks which are going to be reseeded to herbal leys to maximise forage and grazing output from the system.
  • Adrian identified he wanted to integrate the cattle into a rotational grazing system to improve DLWG and finish cattle earlier, the audience concurred.
  • Luppo Diepenbroek, an independent grassland consultant, will provide grassland consultancy for Adrian, to help increase the quality of grazing by improving the management and utilisation of Dupath Farm’s grassland.

Further information

Five point plan for sheep lameness 

Iceberg diseases of ewes 

Planning Grazing Strategies BRP booklet 

RamCompare project and annual report 

Feeding the ewe 

Grassland Reseeding guide 

Understand your business costs with AHDB’s benchmarking tool

Monitoring tools are available 

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