‘We couldn’t do without Draff’

With the rising costs of fuel and fertiliser Draff is an increasingly important part of the diet for beef cattle on Alasdair Porter’s farm on the Isle of Islay.

His 180 head of suckler cows includes Limousin, Charolais and Shorthorn crosses which are put to Limousin, Charolais or Simmental bulls. Most offspring are sold on, but he rears around 20 animals a year for his own butchers shop. He also has a flock of 300 sheep.

Alasdair Porters herd of 180 suckler cows - ForFarmers UK

Draff is a by-product of malt whisky production and comes from the first stage where malted barley is steeped in hot water to extract soluble sugars. The resulting liquid or ‘wort’ is drained to be used for making whisky, leaving a residue which is known as distillers’ malt Draff. It’s a moist feed which is very palatable and provides a good source of digestible fibre and protein. A useful forage extender it can also be fed as a concentrate feed or as part of a total mixed ration (TMR).

“We’ve been feeding Draff on the farm for at least 28 years,” explains Alasdair. He sources the Draff from ForFarmers and feeds it together with grass silage and minerals, accounting for 50% of the ration for breeding stock and less (plus addition of barley and cake) for finishing cattle.

Alasdair stores his Draff underneath silage in a pit. “It helps it keep fresher for longer,” he says. Ordering well in advance he says he prioritises budget for Draff – particularly so this year as he approaches winter with less forage than usual.

“I’d planned to start using slurry on the farm this year,” Alasdair explains. However delays with grant applications for the necessary slurry storage and dribble bar meant that wasn’t possible. “With fertiliser prices as they are I haven’t applied as much to the fields as I usually would. Next year is a worry,” he says. “We are having to cut costs and reduce livestock numbers too.

“Draff is the cheapest and best option for us here – we really couldn’t do without it.”

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