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Archive Article: 1996/02/23

23 February 1996

Auctioneer Chris Clubley takes bids on the sows at the weekly sale of pigs at Thirsk, North Yorkshire – one of the biggest in the country. Prices were back a touch on the previous week as buyers showed resistance to recent high values. Some 586 cutters averaged 116.1p/kg, while 192 baconers levelled at 108.2p – down 4p.

Sows actually made a better trade than the week before at 79.8p for 143 forward, reflecting the overall tightness of the market.

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Archive Article: 1996/02/23

23 February 1996

A Sussex couple are battling to recover compensation awarded to them by Brighton county court. Anne and Gordon Harris were recently awarded £48,000 afterthe judge found their landlord David Anscombe responsible for destroying their farm cottage. Mr Anscombe, a machinery dealer is on remand in prison awaiting trial on fraud charges.

have been frozen until the trial. Damages were awarded against Mr Anscombe for one attack when he ripped the roof off the cottage, smashed all the windows and doors and knocked holes in the walls.

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Archive Article: 1996/02/23

23 February 1996

THERE seems to be a widely held view within the dairy industry that producing so much milk from home-grown feeds is the key factor towards maximising farm profit within a quota system.

The main basic assumption in this argument is that home-grown feeds are cheaper to feed than purchased feeds. Certainly in this part of the world, I would question the cost effectiveness of a milk from home-grown forage policy.

The cost of making grass silage seems to have been at £20/t for the last 15 years. As rents, fertiliser and machinery costs creep up, the real cost of grass silage is probably approaching £25/t. You may consider this an acceptable figure bearing in mind the current prices for alternative feeds. However, it must be remembered that in dry years, grass yields are obviously lower and therefore cost a tonne is that much higher (probably £30/t).

I dont think that many people would question the fact that wheat growing is as profitable as it has ever been. For many dairy-arable farmers, it makes food economic sense to plough up grassland and plant wheat.

On our farm, we are growing a field of wheat this year. People always tell me that maize is a good insurance crop against grass – maize performs well in a year when grass doesnt and vice versa. However, wheat is an even better bet, 1984 and 1995 were extremely poor grass years but were outstanding for wheat yields. Furthermore, wheat offers an excellent insurance against feed prices. Many straights prices are linked to the price of cereals. For example, I know that, roughly, the wheat I sell will enable me to buy a similar tonnage of maize gluten regardless of the wheat price.

That said, I dont foresee wheat being a permanent feature of our farming system. Were just too small to get very serious about it (unfortunately). However, wheat did lend itself to our reseeding programme for this year. The next time you hear about my wheat crop, itll probably be as flat as pancake and sprouting in the ear – but at least we will have some grass if thats the use.

Back to my main argument – for 1996 Ill cut less silage because Im growing wheat. This silage shortfall will be made up with brewers grains and citrus waste ensiled underneath the silage.

This year Nigel Smith will grow wheat and ensile less grass with brewers grains and citrus waste ensiled beneath the clamp to make up the shortfall.

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Archive Article: 1996/02/23

23 February 1996

AS I write the snowy conditions are creating many problems.

Living three miles from the main road is a major headache as we are not exactly on the councils priority list when it comes to snow ploughing and salting.

Our main concern is receiving a 6t bulk delivery of sheep cake, already held back for three days. Another difficulty is a shortage of round bales of wheat straw that should have arrived a week ago. Fortunately, a local farmer has helped me out and we can collect it with our own transport.

The straw problem should not occur again as I have just erected a second-hand store shed allowing me to buy enough in off the field next year.

The pros and cons of buying new or second-hand can be argued forever but I felt (with my bank manager frowning at me) that I could not justify a new building for this purpose.

The building was of galvanised steel, asbestos roof, side cladding on three sides down 5ft from eaves including guttering, etc. Its standing cost was £2200. I took it down myself, with the aid of a hired Manitou, and transported home in five working days. This cost £450 delivered to the yard. As I had cut the building off at ground level, some shortening and lengthening of posts was required. Two or three cracked sheets had to be replaced as did all the roof lights. This was an extra £200.

Total cost at this stage was £2850, which compares favourably with a new self-erect building delivered to site at £5600. I am just hoping the roof sheets will last the remaining 24 years of my tenancy.

In the summer I bought 16 acres of standing hay, as our winter forage stocks looked low. The old saying of "hay in the barn is the same as cash in the bank" does not apply at Trefnant Hall. I was offered £160/t on the farm, so I flogged it and the cash is in the bank. Knowing my luck I will run out of silage in April, then the joke will be on me.

David Jones has sold hay, bought last summer, for £160/t – disproving the adage that hay in the barn was the same as cash in the bank.

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Archive Article: 1996/02/23

23 February 1996

HER Royal Highness: "Good morning Princess, Kensington Palace here. I just wanted to inquire how you are keeping? It has been quite a few weeks since I last talked to you."

Princess: "Oh, Diana, Its all happening here. We are on three-times-a-day milking since the beginning of December. We started on the maize silage at 25% of the diet at the same time and the "boss" was overjoyed that herd yields went up by 17.5%. Of course, a cow like myself, with a bit of breeding in my ancestry, has increased by rather more than that – in fact by 21%."

HRH: "Gosh, thats udderly fabulous, what time do you start work in the mornings?"

Princess: "Well its a 5.30am start for the first milking, then 1.30pm in the afternoon and again at 9pm in the evening. While they expect my herdmates and myself to be in the milking parlour for every milking, they take milking on a rota. Cynthia and Victoria, the evening milkers, are so gentle, just typical understanding females. But Trevor, the Greenmount student, will have to learn to be a little more gentle with my mammaries."

HRH: "Perhaps you could tell me something about your diet?"

Princess: "The forage is 75% grass and 25% maize with 7kg of a 26% protein concentrate and 0.5kg of straw – its the scratch factor in our diet. The first-cut grass silage has a dry matter of 34.2% and the maize has a DM of 30%. We are eating 52.1kg a day each, giving us a dry matter intake of 21.43kg. Then a cow like myself, who is giving much more than the 35 litres that the base diet provides, is "topped up" in the parlour with an 18% protein nut."

HRH: "Do you find any time for socialising, Princess? Is there a male in your life? Girls like us can talk frankly about these things."

Princess: "I am afraid, I could do with your advice. You see, I fell passionately in love with this real cool American hunk, Singing Brook Mascot. I really felt he wasnt your normal toe sucking yankee dude and had visions of a lasting relationship. But instead I am confirmed pregnant and I understand he is now wooing the females in Australia."

Her Royal Highness the Princess of Wales gets the latest news from Will Taylors Glastry Farm via her namesake in the dairy herd…

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Archive Article: 1996/02/23

23 February 1996

WHAT an extraordinary year. After the drought and the super autumn we are having a most unusual winter.

Normally the shutters on the west end of the main castle building are down for most of the winter to keep the rain out. This year they have only been down for a couple of days yet we have had plenty of rain. Eight inches in January – and all from the east.

The last week in January saw hectic activity with the sheep. Two shearers came in and crutched 1057 ewes and ewe hoggs on the Tuesday and Dick Brown scanned them on the Thursday. I like to get the sheep turned up, sheared off round the tail and between the legs, also one or two comb widths in front of the udder. This makes life much easier at lambing, for both lamb and shepherd, and also saves gathering ewes with small lambs in May. It also means that any wool we get off is clean and saleable.

Scanning gave a better, and rather more consistent, result than I had expected. I was wondering what would be the effect of the dry summer on the ewes and, more particularly, the rams. Overall, the ewes showed 163% and the hoggs 66% on those put to the rams. Barren ewes at 22 (2.4%) were about as expected and mainly from the older end of the flock.

The nucleus Beulah flock returned 177% from 150 ewes tupped. There were three barren and one died before scanning. This flock is selected on records of prolificacy and weight gain, and also absence of any faults such as difficult lambing. It consistently produces our highest lambing percentage.

Last year at about this time I wrote about the problems of application forms for SAPS, LFA and SCP and the number of times we had to write out the same information. I must now give due credit to MAFF for the improvements. All sheep applications are on one form and all suckler cow applications on another. This has cut out most of the duplication. It will be interesting to see the new IACS forms for the all-grass farm. I just hope they arrive before we get too busy. Early February would suit me quite well. I might then get them returned before the last mad rush in May.

David Cray: "Scanning gave a better and more consistent result than expected, indicating a lamb crop of 163% across all ewes".

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Archive Article: 1996/02/23

23 February 1996

Dansco Dairy Products, Loanhead, Edinburgh.

Newest name among direct buyers, beginning with former Scottish Milk deputy chairman Jim Brown.

Actively talking to several other producers who will be able to leave Scottish Milk after April. Company, part of McCain Food Group, makes mozzarella cheese for pizza business. Plants in Scotland and Necastle Emlyn, Wales.

Claim is that demand for mozzarella is growing at 20% a year. Current Dansco consumption is 140m litres a year to make 15,000 tonnes of cheese from two plants. Aim is to have 30% of milk supplies direct from farms by 1997.

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