How we do it
The cows graze grass out in the fields from spring till autumn. The fields are split into small paddocks so the cows only spend a few days in each one before moving onto a new paddock and allowing the grass to re-grow in the ones they have left. They return after about 21 days.
When the ground becomes too wet in the autumn the cows are housed in well ventilated sheds. There is an old Shropshire saying ‘cows eat with one mouth and four feet’*.
When they are housed they eat grass and arable silages. That is surplus spring grass that has been chopped up and put with a tractor between concrete walls and rolled to remove as much air as possible and then sealed under plastic sheets. In anaerobic conditions certain bacteria produce lactic acid which pickles the grass and preserves it for winter feed. The same is done to arable crops while the grains are still soft and green later in the year.
The cows are also fed a mixture of crushed home grown cereals and bought in protein.
Like all mammals, cows need a good balanced diet.
The cereal crops are moved round the farm. 2crops of winter wheat and 2 of barley are grown after grassland has been plough up and then the field goes back to growing grass for up to 5 years. See sustainability.
When we plant grass seeds to return a field to pasture we add red and white clover as these are leguminous plants that can turn atmospheric nitrogen into nitrate plant food. This means we only use a small amount of inorganic fertilizer on the grassland.