- The two-tonne grass growth challenge:
To get extra performance from existing swards and grow two tonne more grass dry matter per hectare over the three to four-year period. Of course growing more grass and not utilising it is of little use. When possible, we want to turn the two tonne extra dry matter growth into extending the grazing season by two weeks in spring and two weeks in winter to reduce winter feed costs and improve animal performance. For farmers at a more advanced stage, we want them to break the 10t DM/ha challenge.
- The farm finance challenge:
Keep 100% of the farm’s direct payment and increase the farm’s return into a positive gross margin each year of the programme. Follow the programme’s cash flow planner and be in a position to plan ahead and better manage finances.
- Farm safety challenge:
Complete a farm safety risk assessment on an annual basis and implement two positive changes annually. This will be communicated to the industry as a whole.
- The Breeding Challenge:
Increase the average replacement value of your herd by 20% over the three years of the programme. Opportunity to help farms develop as specialist producers of high health status – high genetic merit replacement heifers / cows.
- Herd health challenge:
The herd health challenge will look to establish what are the main offenders requiring antibiotic use at farm level. To determine the typical usage rates across different enterprises and reduce the usage of antibiotics by putting a robust herd health plan in place. Develop blueprints that favour the targeted use of vaccines and optimum herd/flock management and husbandry practices to cut down on high-risk diseases hence reducing inputs by 20%.
- The soil health challenge:
Get more farmers firstly identifying the soil fertility status of their soils and then embark on a programme, in tandem with a core group of BETTER beef farm participants on varying soil types (mineral and peat soils). The target is that each paddock receives a soil application during the first three years to drive improvement in soil pH levels and subsequently P and K indexes and crop production.
- The farm green farming challenge:
Demonstrate practical ways of incorporating clover into 20% of the farms grassland swards and disseminate best-practice advice on how to manage swards to ensure high establishment rates and grazing practices to avoid issues such as bloat.
- Meet the markets challenge:
To hit optimum specs all the time / niche
- The mixed grazing challenge:
Establish a blueprint for operating a mixed grazing system such as autumn closing dates to allow for early spring turnout, low-cost fencing options for mixed grazing in a rotational manner and housing/winter feeding options.
- The farm structures/labour challenge:
This is a challenge to the programme to show that successful family and non-family partnerships can become established businesses that with planning and structure can provide a viable future for young farmers. This challenge will also examine farm labour usage