With the silage season upon us I could almost write this without a pen, with so much oil on my hands as we try to maintain our ageing silage equipment. We still like the flexibility of cutting our own, but the cost of new kit is scary.


Increasingly, farmers who cut their own are going down the forage wagon route, this is attractive in labour saving and diesel consumption, but the negatives being talked about seem to be the increased weight in the field in soft conditions and the fact the reel can pick up sods loosened by a tractor wheel.

Most concerning are reports of silage not being as good quality due to the longer chop length leaving it harder to consolidate in the clamp. Here we still use the traditional mex V1 precision chop harvester. The weather at the minute is tempting us to start, but crops are variable so we will hold until a little longer.

Northern Ireland’s show season kicked off with a good show at Balmoral. Zara’s British Blues had phenomenal success lifting champion and reserve male and female. Sheep managed a 5th, 6th and 8th, however, entries were big and we always make the excuse of Balmoral being too early for a northerly coastal farm. Friday saw me on the other side stewarding dairy cattle, which with professional exhibitors was an easy and enjoyable task.

With the Northern Ireland Assembly facing cuts, I for one – and I think I speak for a lot of farmers – will not be losing sleep over cutbacks in the civil service, especially on DARD. For the past few years it has felt as though officials have been dreaming up some daft regulation to gold-plate the red tape that is already strangling the industry.

• Read more from Victor Chestnutt.
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