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Archive Article: 1996/04/05

5 April 1996

The show must go on, says Peter Padfield (left), who, despite the BSE issue, plans to sell 90 pedigree Holsteins from his elite Hayleys herd on Apr 11. Facing costs of £200 a head to prepare and transport the stock from Essex to Kirby Thore, Cumbria, he is confident buyers will be drawn in plenty. The catalogue includes a selection of first-time offerings from the Sweet, Cameo, Samara, Tammy and Lou Ella families. Brooksbank. (More dairy dispersal sale details on p33.)

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Archive Article: 1996/04/05

5 April 1996

Enjoying the first signs of spring this week are ewes and lambs from Manor farm, Thornford. The 170ha (420-acre) arable and sheep unit near Sherborne, Dorset, has had a trouble-free lambing resulting in a lambing percentage of 170%. The 500 North Country Mule ewes were run with Suffolk, Hampshire, Texel and Charollais rams. Ewes were wormed after lambing and ewes and lambs are now on clean grazing.

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Archive Article: 1996/04/05

5 April 1996

While some dispersals were being postponed, last Thursday saw 141 Holstein Friesian cattle go under the hammer at Rowe Farm, Shrewsbury, Shropshire. Buyers came from as far as Bedfordshire and south Wales, taking averages to £562 for the 61 second- to-fourth-lactation cows, 658 for 24 heifers, £505 for 27 bulling heifers and £428 for 29 yearling and weanling heifers (Halls).

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Archive Article: 1996/04/05

5 April 1996

WHAT a week. For the past seven days our own financial destiny has been taken out of our hands while the government balances the need to resume public confidence in beef with their elections ambitions via tax cut incentives. Recently watching the politicians in heated House of Commons exchanges, I really do wonder whether they realise whats at stake.

By the time you read this all the measures to be taken will probably have been announced but at this time anything looks possible. Ive been trying to evaluate how different politics will affect the business so the computer has been busy spewing out "what if" cash-flows.

Its amazing the effect different scenarios have. The worst case would be an uncompensated full herd cull. That was so depressing it was quickly put to one side and thankfully looks unlikely. Strange as it may seem an immediate cull of cows born before the SBO ban would probably leave us financially better off than if this whole affair hadnt occurred.

This year we were looking forward to the herd expanding to 110-115 cows but due to cash-flow constraints the extra winter housing needed wont be going ahead. Instead we have decided to keep 100 cows and sell the rest. So a limited cull policy might fit in there depending on the rate of compensation of course.

But by far the biggest effect this cull policy would have is the implication for quota. With 96/97 production expected to be 250-300,000 litres over our quota base, you can appreciate any action which reduces national output to a level that would leave the country under quota has huge positive implications for us.

As I said we dont know what will happen yet but if I start to get depressed Ill just think of how all those potential quota lessors are feeling right now.n

Michael Morgan is weighing up what is at stake following the BSE crisis. The biggest effect the cull policy would have is on quota.

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Archive Article: 1996/04/05

5 April 1996

WE may have got to grass by Feb 13, but we were very definitely and firmly forced back inside one month later to the day.

A combination of a cold and wet snap and an almost complete lack of growth were the contributing factors. However, we are glad we turned the cows out. We saved about 30t of silage while they were out.

There was some concern about silage stocks earlier on in the winter. But with the combination of early turnout and the purchase of straw it now seems like we will have a small carryover.

We stopped serving on March 10 and we will not be serving any more cows until Apr 25. This in line with advice from our co-op (Waterford) and the advisory service (Teagasc). Waterford-sponsored research has looked at optimum calving periods for both winter- or spring-calving herds or herds with a combination of both.

The best times were found to be Oct-Nov and Feb-Mar. The autumn/winter calving period is based on Waterfords own winter milk bonus scheme which runs from Oct to Feb. This is worth almost 4.5p/litre on the milk supplied in these five months. It is, however, on a strict quota basis. A minimum of 35% of a participants quota must be supplied over the five months, 17% Oct-Dec, 18% Jan-Feb. Individual quotas were established based on 94/95 supply and ours is for almost 37% of our total quota. It will increase in volume though not in % should we lease more quota.

Work has started on the maize area with 6ha (15 acres) ready to plough. Slurry spreading continues every fine day with the intention of having the crop sown by Apr 15. Well, it worked last year.n

Despite having to bring cows in a month later, an early mid-February turn-out saved Gerald Murphy about 30t of silage over that period.

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Archive Article: 1996/04/05

5 April 1996

CORRECTION

IN OUR report on the new recommended list of sugar beet varieties (Arable, Mar 1) Alexa should have been described as above average for sugar yield and growers income, stresses UK agent the English Sugar Beet Seed Company. It also points out that below average establishment in 1993 was due to the poor performance of breeders seed. Subsequent years have shown a great improvement, it says.

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Archive Article: 1996/04/05

5 April 1996

Latest attachment to become available for Chavtracs self-propelled SupaTanka comes in the form of a boom system for in-crop slurry application from tramlines. The Tramspread attachment, which can cater for tramline widths of up to 24m (26.2yd), adds another £2400 on to the £39,995 cost of the SupaTanka slurry spreader.

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Archive Article: 1996/04/05

5 April 1996

A VISIT to our capital is not something my wife and I usually get the chance to do at this time of year. So a two-day break in London was highlighted by an afternoon spent at The Law Society.

One may ask what on earth a little peasant like me was doing in such high places and even getting the chance to meet the president of The Law Society. No, I havent been getting myself into big trouble, needing a personal hearing in the House of Lords. It just so happens our daughter has qualified as a lawyer, and we were invited to her presentation.

The president surprised me when he said that the area in which we live, and in particular the Trough of Bowland, was one of his favourite haunts. What with the Queen announcing her favourite retirement retreat as the nearby Hodder Valley, we are certainly getting recognition of our quiet backwaters from high society.

So back to farming. And the lambing season is nearly over. We have had our ups and downs but overall a good crop. The demand for spare lambs suggests that other people are having their troubles. Some of my neighbours have had a high percentage of single lambs. Others seem to be having a small number of abortions. The first 20 sheep that lambed were 10 days early and the lambs a bit lethargic. The decision to vaccinate against enzootic abortion seems to have been a wise one and I have the feeling that a disaster may have been prevented. The 20 sheep mentioned were all sheep on the farm last year that could have contracted the disease last year. But I cant prove anything.

Farm waste and its disposal is a topic on which a local farm student has been conducting research in our area. The response to her survey on the re-use of big bale bags suggests that few do re-use their bags. Here, the practice of re-using bale bags has gone on for many years.

The secret is careful handling and we are able to re-use over 600 bags each year. As they are taken off the bales, the bags are stored in a disused loft. On wet days during winter a couple of hours stacking and repairing small holes can be time well spent.n

David Howard is able to re-use 600 big bale silage bags each year.

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