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Archive Article: 1996/03/08

8 March 1996

This 1994 New Holland TX 36 Hydrostatic combine topped the bidding at £68,000

when the machinery from Hill Farm, Southwell, Notts, was recently sold. It had clocked up 231 hours. In total, 125 lots grossed £230,000, with strong interest coming from dealers and farmers. Farmers can often outbid dealers at dispersals, because they do not need to allow for a margin, says auctioneer Robert Hurst. The offering followed the sale of the 930-acre arable farm on behalf of Boots for around its guide price of £2.5m. (Savills, Walker Walton Hanson)

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Archive Article: 1996/03/08

8 March 1996

…and winter cases up

FORAGE shortages this winter have culminated in increased incidence of grass staggers, says ADAS consultant Elwyn Rees.

"When producers are feeding straw for the first time they must be sure to offer at least 1.5kg of a 18% concentrate at 12 ME a day," says Dr Rees. "If quality silage is being fed ewes will need 0.8kg to 0.9kg of concentrates a day and those on hay require 1.2kg."

Ewes are most likely to be short of magnesium during the first four to six weeks of lactation when milk production is high, says Dr John Robinson from the Scottish Agricultural College.

The deficiency is most apparent in flocks grazing heavily-fertilised pastures, and is often associated with stress factors such as handling, transport, drop in temperature or changes in diet.

A shepherds first sign that his flock maybe suffering from hypomagnesaemia – grass staggers – is a ewe twitching her head and appearing nervous. This is often followed by sudden death.

"These symptoms can be avoided by ensuring ewes at pasture are fed concentrates containing 6g of magnesium oxide (calcined magnesite) daily. When no supplement is offered, mineral mixtures with a high magnesium content should be provided," says Dr Robinson.

"Alloy bullets which slowly release magnesium after they have been inserted in the rumen just before turnout onto lush pasture are another alternative."

Care is needed where lambs have access to ewe feed which is high in magnesium because excessive intakes can cause urinary calculi in ram lambs, he warns.

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Archive Article: 1996/03/08

8 March 1996

No 2 of eight lighthearted rules from Cotswolds farm manager Mike Harlow: "When spraying weedy patches in summer you will always wish you had sprayed more. So always spray the whole field!"

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Archive Article: 1996/03/08

8 March 1996

Patrick Cock reports that the Milkminder average has recently exceeded 8500 litres a cow, but as quota is tight concentrates have been reduced.

THE cows have continued to milk well on our very dry silage to the point that our Milkminder average to the end of February has just gone through 8500 litres. However, unlike good fairy tales, the year ending is not quite so happy with some adjustment to the ration necessary over March to bring us to about 2% over quota. We hope to pick up where we left off in the last few days of March but by then several cows will be approaching drying off. So time will tell.

We have chosen not to dry off many cows at present because we dont have anywhere suitable to put a reasonable group of dry cows to look after them. Similarly we are carrying on with three times a day milking to minimise the stress and change to the cows.

The concentrates have been reduced and about 2kg a cow of straw added as we fear the disappearance in a Hoover-like fashion of our adequate but not plentiful silage stocks down the throats of Ermintrudes army, particularly as it is not going to be a very early spring here in Devon.

Addition of the straw has been relatively easy as the Hesston bales that we bought last summer were dry and fell to pieces in the Keenan avoiding the task of having to chop the straw.

With all the nitrogen now on, our attention is turning to farm project code name "the big tidy" and is not in any way connected to the fact that Genus intend to hold a farm open day here later in the month. So in the tradition of all good farm open days we intend to fool the punters that we keep the place reasonably tidy all the time.

When on such a mission the hardest decisions usually involve the scrap metal; that is "to skip or not to skip?" And you can guarantee that the useless object/ machine/pile of junk that you have been tripping over and nearly breaking your neck on for the last 10 years discovers its role in life the day after it disappeared down the road on a skip.

Also to coincide with the tidy-up we have almost finished our workshop (an old barn refurbished). Which, for the first time in history, gives us a dry, straw-less drive-in (more like tow, push or dump-in) facility to repair tractors and the like with lighting good enough for Torquay United to play under.

By the way, "Herbie the goldfish" lives.n

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Archive Article: 1996/03/08

8 March 1996

Champion Holstein Friesian at the Salon International de lAgriculture in Paris last week was Fiere, a four-year-old daughter of the French sire Ugela Bell. Owned by Jean Greff from north-east France, Fiere classified EX90 and averaged 11450kg in her last completed lactation.

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Archive Article: 1996/03/08

8 March 1996

Scab consultation

CONSULTATION on the governments proposals to tighten sheep scab regulations ended last Fri.

MAFF has received 15 responses, which will be sent to Veter-inary Medicines Directorate and the Veterinary Products Comm-ittee for information. The consultation document, released last December, proposed three new measures:

lGranting local authorities power to clear commons.

lMaking the sale of scab-infested sheep, other than direct to slaughter, a criminal offence.

lMaking the failure to treat sheep with detectable scab "within a reasonable time" illegal. &#42

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Archive Article: 1996/03/08

8 March 1996

Despite leptospirosis vaccinations, David Howards heifers are still aborting at 12-14 weeks into pregnancy – hes keen to know why.

A RECURRING problem that we never seem to get to the bottom of is that heifers 12-14 weeks into pregnancy are unable to carry their calves to full term.

The trouble seems to start around the second or third week in January when up to three out of a batch of 14 will abort or re-absorb – call it what you will. The timing has always been the same, and my vets have tried to establish a cause with all the armoury at their disposal. The routine test of blood, brucellosis and leptospirosis do not give the answer.

The heifers are always served the first three weeks in October when they are run with a bull. Eight weeks into pregnancy they are pdd and all seems to be well until mid-January, then they start. There has only been one so far this year, but last year there were two, and three years ago, three. At this stage I vaccinated against leptospirosis thinking this would eliminate the problem. They abort within a few days of each other yet tests fail to give any conclusive evidence. My vet says Im not the only one with this problem. They nearly always come bulling three or four days after their mini-abortion, and, in nearly all cases three weeks later hold to a service and carry their calves to full term. I really would like to know what causes this problem – the regularity and the timing is so coincidental.

Shortage of quota is causing a problem. My Genus consultant will have a wry smile because he told me to lease in more than I actually did. The problem is that I have never known cows milk so well, and the feed value of second-cut silage has probably contributed to my dilemma. Four fat cows had to go last week and before their time really, but I am having to take drastic action with over 86% of quota used.

A recent soil analysis has shown that our lime levels are getting low so we will have to apply some in the near future. And with the calendar telling me that spring is just around the corner, the fertiliser programme can now be finalised.n

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