Lower House Farm, Llandrindod Wells, Radnorshire
Trial: Evaluating a bi-crop of peas and beans to replace bought in protein for pregnant ewes and growing and finishing beef cattle
One of Robert Lyon’s main drivers at Lower House Farm is to increase farm resilience while reducing the farm’s carbon footprint. The growing of barley at Lower House Farm provides enough starch energy to feed the 500-600 pregnant ewes and grow and finish the 130-150 Belgian Blue heifers on site annually. However, a protein concentrate blend is mixed with the rolled barley to make up the protein shortfall in the ration.
To work towards self-sufficiency in protein, Lower House Farm will trial incorporating bought in peas and beans in the pregnant ewe ration for winter 2023/24 and use home-grown peas and beans in winter 2024/25. The bi-crop of peas and beans will be crimped and incorporated into 2024/25 winter rations for both beef cattle and pregnant ewes.
With Lower House Farm growing 3.6ha of barley annually, the introduction of a pulse break crop will fit well into the rotation. Being a nitrogen fixing crop, no nitrogen fertiliser would be required for the following crop, and the different tap root type structure may provide benefits to soil structure.
Peas and beans can be used in ruminant diets as a useful source of energy and rumen degradable protein. Peas contain around 26% protein in the dry matter and beans around 29%. They are both high in energy, containing 13.6 to 14 MJ/kgDM with over 40% starch. The level of inclusion in cattle and sheep diets will largely depend on the level of protein in the base forage and the need for additional fermentable carbohydrates.
Analysis of forage and other feeds (home grown barley, protein concentrates, peas & beans) will be used to formulate the winter diets for 2023/24 and 2024/25. The financial impact, carbon footprint and animal performance will be monitored and analysed to compare the incorporated peas and beans diet with the control diet containing soya. The cost of buying in, in comparison with home-grown peas and beans will also be assessed.
Through driving improvements in sustainability, the project will contribute to the Sustainable Land Management outcomes by:
- Reducing the farms greenhouse gas emissions
- Support improvement in maximising carbon storage and sequestration whilst reducing the whole-farm carbon footprint
- Maintaining and enhancing the ecosystem at Lower House Farm
- Contributing to high flock and herd health and welfare