Like so many livestock producers, Henry, Esther and Monty Rudge were hit by last summer’s drought followed by a cold and wet spring.

So, with low forage stocks and difficult conditions for turnout, they opted to buy bales of Stephen Ware’s total mixed ration (see opposite) to finish their forward stores inside, instead of at grass.

Producing around 100 finished cattle per year on their 320-acre (130ha) mixed farm at Ballingham Court near Ross-on-Wye, a batch of 26 head was put on the ration this April.

Four weeks later, the first group of 12 were ready for sale. Having started at an average weight of 540kg, they had gained an average 1.5kg/day and killed out at an average deadweight of 285kg. The average age of these Hereford x Stabilisers was 14 months.

Henry says he has been extremely pleased with the performance of the stock on the TMR as well as the feed itself – both its nutritional and keeping quality – and the ease with which it can be fed. “We just open the bale on the concrete and scoop it with a bucket and into a trough,” he says.

“When we started, they were eating it slowly and it had to last for around 10 days,” he says. “It did this comfortably, and there was no heating and the waste is nil. “The cattle also look fantastic on it and we notice
they lie down and cud a lot which is a sign they’re comfortable.”

Asked about any concerns in using a newly conceived product, he said: “We have used Kelvin Cave products in the past and that was one reason we were so confident this would work.

“All the products we’ve used do what they claim they’re going to do so we had every confidence in giving this a try.”

Also stating that the ingredients in the ration perfectly meet the requirements of his supermarket buyer, he says they want no GM soya and prefer the ingredients to be locally sourced.

He adds: “We had crimped grain in the past but with just 100 finishing animals, a clamp of 500 tonnes would be too much.”

He also cites the convenience factor of buying the ration as and when it’s needed, giving them complete adaptability to do as required with minimal labour and absolutely zero waste.

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