The science of seasons, farming and feeds

Carr’s Billington is one of our most fascinating businesses (a joint venture with Carr’s Group PLC spanning over two decades); it’s one steeped in scientific knowledge and expertise that might just surprise you.

Unless you work in agriculture or farming, it is hard to understand quite how multifaceted it is, and the amount of expertise the people working in it have to possess to keep things moving. As the seasons change, our team pivots its expertise to suit the very varied needs of our customers in the farming community. The feeds we produce are scientifically analysed and created as bespoke products to suit the needs of specific farms and their animals. It is an incredibly involved process, but one which is essential to ensure farms can get the best from their livestock.

What do we do at Carr’s Billington?

We offer a variety of products and services to the agriculture and farming industries, but a crucial part of what we do is tailored feeds for ruminants (mainly cattle and sheep).

Feeding these animals correctly is an involved and complex process. They need balanced diets. Cattle and sheep evolved to digest grass and other fibrous plants (referred to as forages in this industry) and they remain the basis for their diets. However, the type and amount of forages available can be impacted and influenced by weather, the time of year, the soil types on which they were grown, fertiliser regimes and more, so it’s an ever changing situation that must be monitored.

Our team have to understand the forages used/available at the farm in question and any of these external factors that might impact what is available to the livestock at any time, in order to help maintain a balanced diet for the animals.

What do light frequencies have to do with forages?

In order to ensure we can provide the balanced and tailored feeds these animals need, we employ some incredible tactics, including the use of Near Infra-Red spectroscopy, NIR, to analyse the forages of customers. This involves shining known frequencies of light onto a sample of the forage and measuring what is reflected back.

From this light spectrum, we are able to calculate the amount of protein, fibre and other nutrition factors in the sample. Our lab at Stone in Staffordshire, analyses thousands of samples a year to help our staff and customers create diets for individual farm situations. The amount of forage analysis peaks as we move from summer grazing to winter diets – so this is happening right now in preparation for the seasonal change.

What do we do with the analysis?

Our staff are then able to use that information on the customer’s forage to build up a diet. Using our specialist diet software, we are able to build diets using the forages plus our branded compound feeds and then balance for a customer’s specific needs using a bespoke blend. This process may be repeated through the winter season as other factors come into play, such as lactation, or other aspects of the diet change.

Fundamentally, every farm is different and we pride ourselves on working to meet these tailored needs. A key part of the success of the Carr’s Billington offering to our customers, is that we can bring our knowledge, experience and product range to them in such a bespoke way if they need it, bear so that they can feed a balanced and effective diet to their livestock no matter what other soil, weather or varied challenges they face.

You can find out more about our Carr’s Billington business by checkinq out their website.