Mark Crapper

G. H. Crapper and Son Ltd

Keeping a close eye on all costs has enabled Mark Crapper to make significant improvements to his family’s beef unit in Billingley, near Barnsley.

Mark works with his parents John and Sue and brother Matt and together they finish 1,650 cattle and 900 store lambs every year, on their tenant farm on the Fitzwilliam Wentworth Estate.

They purchase cattle from local markets focussing on continentals with some Aberdeen Angus and Herefords as well. Typically, beasts are 18 months or older and already around 500kg so aren’t on the farm for long, but the family aim to maximise their productivity in that time.

To this end, Mark implemented the change to total mixed ration (TMR) in 2016. Having previously fed rolled barley and silage from ring feeders the switch required investment in appropriate machinery and equipment but has enabled them to make better use of co-products and improve margins.

The finisher ration now includes grass and maize silage, potato and vegetable waste, stock feed potatoes as well as home grown wheat, barley and minerals.

Cost efficiency

Margins are tight and Mark has to keep a really close eye on costs. All the home-grown produce is put in at market value and a computer programme is used to keep track of everything.

The aim is to feed cattle for 90 days, with growth averaging 1.5kg per day across cows, heifers and bullocks.

With 400-500 cattle on farm at any one time there is a continuous flow of animals with new purchases arriving and around 32 beef animals being sold every week. They prefer to sell live at Selby but also sell deadweight to Dunbia, Kepak and Dovecote Park.

Mark recognises there is much that farmers can’t control, but chooses to remain optimistic and focus on factors that he can influence, all while striving to improve the efficiency of the farm.