Neil Davies

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Maximising profit from forage is an integral part of the system at Cefnllan Farm, and it has been the driving force behind the business’ change in direction.

Since taking over the farm at a young age, Neil Davies has made many changes to the original farm business, all with the aim of maximising forage utilisation and increasing output per hectare.

The farm was previously home to a traditional suckler herd, comprising 60 British Blue cross Limousin cows plus followers. Calving was in spring and store cattle were sold at the local livestock market. But, with the drive to run a low-cost system from grass and produce more kilogrammes of beef per hectare of grassland, Neil made the decision to transition to a dairy beef system.

About 150 Aberdeen Angus cross dairy cattle are finished each year on the farm’s 105 hectares (259.5 acres) of grassland, with a further 93ha (229.8 acres) of rented land. The calves arrive weaned in the spring and are taken through to finishing at 20 to 22 months old.

The transition to a dairy beef system is grounded by an emphasis on rotational grazing for maximum grass utilisation, which has resulted in pasture quality and yield improvements. Neil says that following the increase in
fertiliser prices, the aim was to increase output from on-farm resources.

As part of this, Neil has also taken on a five-year reseeding programme, with 20ha (49.4 acres) reseeded annually.

He says: “These new leys are very productive in the spring when the business needs to make the most out of the grass.”

The farm’s grass growth data is monitored to ensure the cattle are getting the most from the grazing platform, with the use of plate meters and supporting software.

Cattle growth rates are analysed throughout the grazing season to assess daily liveweight gains and aid decision-making. A flock of 2,400 Epynt Hardy Speckled sheep are also run alongside the beef system, with grazing rights on the Epynt Mountain.

As well as farming full-time, Neil is actively involved in many of the industry’s discussion groups, as well as being a member of the NFU’s next generation group, an Agri Academy 2019 business and innovation member, and a Farming Connect sheep and beef demonstration farmer.