How Gamechanger helped a sheep farmer become a cattle finisher (without major investment)

Livestock farmer George Herdman lambs a flock of 1,100 ewes on his 500-acre farm, which he runs with his wife Josie and has now added cattle to the business. George and Josie have farmed together for more than 20 years, with predominantly sheep experience, though both having grown up with cattle.

After purchasing the farm, they wanted to introduce cattle but had little capital left to invest in additional livestock. That’s when George heard about Gamechanger. George’s cousin, Nick, lives eight miles away and is rearing Aberdeen Angus sired calves for Gamechanger. He recommended Gamechanger for providing well-bred, healthy calves and a sound payment system, with good support from their local Gamechanger representative, Scott Millar. 

“Nick understood what we wanted to achieve and thought it would suit our farming system to grow on and finish the young cattle reared on his farm.”, George says. “We’ve got the buildings here, so that’s what we decided to do, and we haven’t looked back.” 

When calves reach 100kg, they are moved in batches onto George’s farm, grazing out in summer and being housed during winter. 

George explained: 

“We currently have 100 Gamechanger cattle on our farm and we are really pleased with them. Cattle arrive vaccinated, they’re healthy, and they are nice and quiet to handle – we have not had any problems at all. It is up to us how we get the cattle to finishing weight, so long as 70% of the diet is grass and forage based. We grew 12 acres of a pea and barley mix last year which we whole cropped for winter feed, the cattle grew well on this so we will grow it again. In a normal year, cattle are housed in late September and return to grass in April. Scott keeps in touch with us and is always on hand when we need him. Our aim is to keep about 120-30 cattle on the farm at one time.” 

George also spoke about the benefits of Gamechanger: 

“The genetics of these cattle are very good, the bulls being used are creating consistent calves, which helped me to get my first batch out at 290 kg/dw at 17 months old. One of the reasons we joined Gamechanger is that we know how many cattle we can finish each month, which really helps us with cash flow. We know the income we will receive when the cattle are finished, which supports our farming business and offers an opportunity for our two children to join the business if they wish to.” 

George is keen to optimise the grass growing capabilities of the farm, so is reseeding paddocks and implementing rotational grazing to grow cattle efficiently, which he believes is good for both the grazing and for cattle health. The cattle work well with the sheep enterprise, both offering manure for fertiliser, and George finds this is a simple way of keeping cattle without taking on extra staff. Batches of cattle are always available and the reasonable finishing time ensures cash flow is consistent for the business, allowing for growth and re-investment. 

“There is also a local group of farmers involved in rearing and growing cattle through Gamechanger, we meet up and we recently went on an interesting live-to-dead day at Ellesmere, arranged by ABP, which taught me more about cattle grading. I would encourage anyone interested in taking on cattle to contact the Gamechanger team for more information.”