Installing slatted flooring makes beef production sustainable on Welsh farm
A livestock farmer has increased profitability in his beef system since converting a straw-bedded shed to a slatted floor system.
Neil Davies made the switch after a Farming Connect Management Exchange study in Ireland.
He embarked on the study programme because he wanted to inform his decision making on finding a more cost-effective method for winter housing his cattle other than straw.
He farms cattle and sheep on his family’s farm at Cefnllan, Llangammarch Wells.
The farm sits in a high rainfall area which means wintering his 150 Aberdeen Angus-cross cattle indoors. With a straw system, that is costly, he says.
Mr Davies’ study took him to Ireland.
“I visited eight different slatted floor cattle sheds, and every shed was slightly different with good and bad points,’’ he says.
“But one thing became very clear: this was what I needed on my own farm.’’
He visited the farm of Gerard Dineen, inspired by listening to him present at a Farming Connect conference.
“I was very keen to visit his farm during my time in Ireland, with Gerard winning the Beef Farmer of the Year award in 2018; whilst visiting him, it was evident why.
"I learnt a lot about data recording, attention to detail, and how he makes a living out of his suckler herd on his 100 acre farm.’’
As well as going to farms, he visited manufacturers of concrete slats and rubber matting and the factory where Keenan machinery is produced.
His research also took him to the Teagasc Research Centre. “They had an excellent cattle setup with some of the best sheds I had seen on my visit to Ireland, along with a high-tech air operated handling system,’’ Mr Davies reports.
Since returning from Ireland, he has put his research into practice, installing a slatted floor in what was previously a straw-bedded shed.
He uses this for winter housing and for fattening cattle in the summer, with no bedding cost.
“This has made a massive difference to the profit of my cattle business, as I would not have been able to continue farming beef cattle on this farm using straw bedding,’’ he admits.
“I have also bought a Keenan feeder!’’
Management Exchange Report: