18 May 2020
5th European Agroforestry Conference

Nuoro, Sardinia. Call for abstracts

21 September 2020
Organic World Congress 2020

20th Organic World Congress in France, September 2020



6 December 2019
Organic research and innovation priorities

TP Organics launched its new Strategic Research and Innovation Agenda

28 November 2019
Whites Oats win award!

Research and innovation through Organic Arable pays off



21 March 2019
In adversity, what are farmers doing to be more resilient?

Opportunities, barriers and constraints in organic techniques helping to improve the sustainability of conventional farming

Non-ruminants: Feeding from the range and alternative feeds

Chair: Anna Bassett (consultant)

Jos Houdijk and colleagues (SAC): Amino acid composition and digestibility of home-grown pea/bean varieties
Jos graduated with a PhD in animal nutrition from Wageningen University (The Netherlands) and has worked at SAC, Edinburgh since March 1998, where he is now a senior researcher at its Disease Systems Team. Research interests include nutritional sensitivity of host responses to disease challenge in laboratory models and farm animals, and nutritional opportunities to reduce environmental foot prints of farm production systems.
Presentation - Amino acid composition and digestibility of home-grown pea/bean varieties

Mike Gooding (FAI): Feeding pigs from the system: silage and other feeds
Managing Director FAI Farms Ltd has spent his career in agricultural marketing and public relations, with particular involvement in the livestock sector, farmer owed trading businesses, European meat marketing and food processing. As Managing Director of FAI Farms Ltd and its sister business – Woodland – he is responsible for commercial farming operations based at Wytham in Oxfordshire, along with research and development programmes, and consultancy that focuses on future sustainable agriculture.
Presentation - Feeding pigs from the system: silage and other feeds

Gerald Osborne (poultry farmer): Feeding poultry with enhanced range: practical experiences
Gerald farms near Pewsey in Wiltshire and began converting Lawn Farm to organic in 1999. The farm is 1100 acres, with hens, beef and arable.
Presentation - Feeding poultry with enhanced range: practical experiences

Session Summary -
Jos Houdijk and colleagues (SAC): Amino acid composition and digestibility of home-grown pea/bean varieties In Europe we use more protein than we produce, the Green Pig Project looks at home grown Legumes as an alternative. Very little variation was found between different pea varieties, this was also true of beans, this means feed companies can use different varieties with confidence. Lysine content of peas and beans is good in comparison to soyabean meal (SBM), Methionine, unfortunately, is not so good. Pea and bean diets require additional protein to get to the same level as SBM but are considered by the Green Pig Team to be a suitable alternative. It must be noted that the Ross broilers and production targets used in the trial are for the conventional sector. It was found that for broilers, peas are more digestible than beans although this could be addressed by processing. Wheat and rape seed can be used in the ration as they have high levels of methionine compared to lysine, this will help to close the gap between home grown legumes and SBM.
Mike Gooding (FAI): Feeding pigs from the system: silage and other feeds The Three E’s stand for Economic, Environment and Ethics. FAI believe a system cannot be truly sustainable unless these 3 are being met. The new pig system at FAI is indoor, the farm is mostly flood plain and not suitable for pigs. The animals stay in family groups of 5 sows, except when farrowing. Pigs would naturally leave the group to farrow and return after a couple of weeks. They are fed a grass silage based mix; 54% silage, 30% rolled barley, 16% soya meal. The soya is substituted with the hatchery waste but as this is not consistent a suitable alternative is being sought. The feed is mixed in a mixer wagon and delivered fresh each morning to the pigs, it can take up to 6 hours to be eaten after which the pigs are tired and retire to their straw or woodchip areas to sleep. Replacement sows are selected from mothers that do not roll on their piglets and any that do are culled from the herd. The aim is for 10 piglets, no mortalities. Gloucestershire Old Spot Pigs are used as they suit the local market but the system works for any breed. It is a simple modular system that can be multiplied and easily cleaned, FAI has 7000 visitors a year and no health problems. The pigs are raised organically with the obvious exception of not being outdoor. Carcass quality is not altered by the system and growth rates compare with other organic GOS pigs. The biggest variable in the system is the stockman.
Gerald Osborne (poultry farmer): Feeding poultry with enhanced range: practical experiences Gerald Osborn rears his own hens from day olds, the eggs are produced for Stonegate. In conjunction with Bristol University, Gerald has been trying a new ‘dark brooding system’. Instead of heating the whole shed with overhead gas brooders, low level heating is used in a small area. A curtain around the edge of the brooding area provides a dark warm place for the birds to rest. This means they do not get into the habit of pecking one another as they are calmer. This system will be used in the future regardless of the results as the birds are calmer, feather pecking seems to be reduced and the heating bill is much less. Birds are encouraged onto the range in a wide variety of ways. Firstly the chicken fields are surrounded by mature hedge and tree lines, which encourages the birds out. The range is dotted with cargo netting and old tree stumps; these make the perfect place to hide from helicopters. Alpacas are used as companion animals to protect from foxes – in addition to 9 strand electric fencing around the perimeter. Last year a strip of maize and sunflower was planted at a 90 angle to the shed, thus creating a covered path into the range. Unfortunately the bad weather stopped the plants from reaching their full potential. However it will be tried again this year as the birds really enjoyed foraging in what did grow. It is not known how much the range contributes to the birds diet and 100% of feed is still brought in but Gerald hopes this may change in the future.

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