We calve in Spring on straw-bedded pens to maximise cow comfort and ensure they are closely supervised around the clock. Summer turnout to 3,200 acres of land at Elmley Nature Reserve allows the cows to graze naturally in an environment free from pesticides or chemical fertilisers. The cattle play an important role in preserving the wildlife at Elmley Nature Reserve and we are proud to be able to help and support their conservation efforts. With the freedom to roam and ample grass to feed on, our cattle thrive which allows us to produce a high welfare herd with optimum growth rates.
At the end of the grazing season, the calves are weaned and brought back in to Old Rides Farm as stores. We generally sell a third as stores when 12 to 14 months old, select a third as replacement heifers to join the herd, and then summer graze the remainder to sell as 18 month stores in the following autumn. Our feedlot has capacity for 2,000 store cattle, fed twice daily using our homegrown silage-based diets. With such large numbers of cattle, it is vital to be able to handle them safely and effectively, hence we sought the guidance of world-renowned livestock system designer, Temple Grandin.
Temple designed our 20 metre curved race complete with hydraulic-operated crush specifically for our farm to allow us to perform routine procedures efficiently and with minimal stress. The race also includes a weighing scale which automatically recognises the cattle’s electronic identification tags so that we can record data easily and accurately.
Each year, we carefully select our own heifer replacements based on a combination of key traits. These include high growth rate, good breeding conformation and temperament. They are then bred to easy-calving Aberdeen Angus bulls, using artificial insemination to eliminate the risk of injury during natural breeding.
Maintaining high health and welfare standards remains a top priority at BB4 and we work closely with our vet teams throughout the year to ensure this. As a result, we are proud to be recognised as a Red Tractor farm.