Greg and Rowan Pickstock

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Producing carbon neutral beef by 2030 using only commercial and affordable methods is the current aim of father and son duo, Greg and Rowan Pickstock.

The newly built Brogain Farm is home to a semi-extensive beef finishing system, where dairy beef calves are reared from two to four weeks of age, through to finishing between 18 and 22 months. The cattle are then  processed at the family’s processing site in Telford.

Since building the farm in 2019, both Greg and Rowan have strived to achieve the shared goal of net zero beef production. Among many changes made to try and achieve this, genetics has been a key focus, including the use of composite bull semen on supplying dairy farms to source dairy cross Aberdeen-Angus calves of a higher genetic merit.

So far, a five per cent improvement in growth rates and reduction in finishing times has been achieved.

A mob grazing system has been implemented alongside the reseeding of long-term perennial ryegrass and clover leys. As a result, daily liveweight gains have improved and purchased feed has halved, as have the  associated emissions.

Greg says gaps in hedgerows are also being filled in and trees are being planted on unproductive farmland, such as the corners of fields which are not cut for silage.

He says: “This is all to improve carbon sequestration and biodiversity on the farm, while demonstrating that trees can be planted without impacting productive land.”

A Bokashi fermentation trial is currently taking place on the farmyard manure, with the aim of producing a nutrient-dense fertiliser. Consequently, purchased fertiliser has reduced and is only utilised in targeted areas, with
soil samples taken regularly to monitor soil health, carbon stocks and organic matter content.

Investment in cattle housing has also proved beneficial in terms of profitability and production, including specialised ventilation systems and sloped floors for optimum drainage. Automatic calf feeders have been installed to reduce labour costs and milk powder usage, helping to achieve profit growth.

Both Greg and Rowan believe there will be many opportunities available for UK agriculture over the coming years, and they remain excited about the future of farming.

On Winning Greg and Rowan said

“We were not expecting this at all. We were actually nominated which was special in itself and, as a young family, something we really appreciated as a chance to get recognised. We are proud to work in farming as it has always been in the family and we enjoy it. We have never been to the British Farming Awards and it has been a great night with fantastic food and company.”

What the Judge said

“Clear goal as to what the business / farm wants to achieve and a clear path in how to achieve that. Very impressive what they are doing on farm. Taking an innovative and radical approach to tackling the issues facing the beef industry.”