Farm Life19 January 2022
Farming for the Future
Taking the best of old and new
We are very excited this week, new scales were delivered. In the absence of any cattle, Scott was used as the test subject!
As hopefully you know already, our farm is Pasture for Life certified. This means that all of our animals are 100% grass-fed. We believe this is the way forward for our animals and farm to be sustainable and regenerative. It gives us great joy to see our animals grazing freely in our lush fields with the sun on their backs. Just as nature intended.
Grain v Grass Fed Beef
We’ve recently been reading a lot of research on grain versus grass fed beef. We were surprised to learn many of the conclusions decided that grain fed beef is more sustainable. This has been concluded because they finish quicker and therefore release less methane. (Live shorter lives and so have less time to fart!)
Despite scientists being divided on the best way forward, farmers are really taking notice and many of us are actively putting in place practices to reduce our carbon emissions. We have been trying to do this for many years here at Ardross. Trying to increase biodiversity, improve soil health and support animals and birds to thrive on the farm is very important to us. Reading these reports on grain versus grass fed cattle was a real blow to us and the progress we thought we had made. However, not to get too disheartened, we also believe that we should never stop learning and there is always room for improvement. Hence our new scales.
Currently we select cattle to breed from using a very strict criteria; give birth unaided, strong mothering instinct, no horns, absence of disease and many other things. Now these scales will help us breed from the cattle that grow quickest as well. At the moment some cattle on the farm finish at 30 months, others at 24, the variation is huge. By adding another selection onto our breeding we can use the better genetics to improve. There is no forcing or changing any of our welfare priorities. The cattle will remain outside, eating grass, with minimal interventions from us. Not a quick fix but over time we think our cattle could finish as quickly as the grain fed animals whilst grazing outside all year round, fertilising our soil and eating just grass.
What we are passionate about is producing meat that is nutritious for humans, sustainable, while giving the animals as natural and stress free life as possible. Hopefully this could be the way forward to satisfy all this criteria.