Archive Article: 1998/06/12 - Farmers Weekly

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Archive Article: 1998/06/12

12 June 1998

IN BRIEF

&#8226 SHEARING could become less labour intensive if Asian know-how, which makes it easier to collect the wool from sheep, reaches commercial fruition.

A Japanese company has developed a way to mass produce a protein which, when injected under the skin, makes it possible to pluck wool by hand a few weeks later.

The protein, epidermal growth factor, is used on a small scale already in Australia, and now mass-production is possible, its use is expected to become more widespread.

Because the wool is not cut from the sheep, but removed naturally, the fleece is finer, claims a report in a Canadian paper.

&#8226 CORRECTION

VARIATION in weight gain for pigs fed a low lysine diet compared with a commercial grower/finisher ration in the Easton Lodge feed trial is -83g to +1.15kg a pig a day and -125g to +1.08kg a pig a day, respectively, and not as stated last week.

&#8226 BREED cows that will last many lactations, says Green Acres following the addition of four new bulls to its stud.

This includes Canadian high climber Sir Rockie Avon, a Tesk son offering high production with a PIN of £87 and ITEM of £92 with a UK type equivalent of 1.8.

Prelude son, Karnvilla Alto offers a PIN of £72 and £79 ITEM with a UK type merit equivalent of 2.66.

Green Acres also adds Calbrett Mayers Dusty, the highest ranked Astre Starbuck son in Canada and the Thor son from an Inspiration dam, Clover-Mist Krypton with £81 PIN and £85 and UK type merit equivalent of 2.05.

&#8226 SHOWS and sales this year prove the quality of Ked Juror daughters, confirming his proof, and producers can buy his semen for just £25/straw until July, says ABS Progen.

Ked Juror offers £77 PIN, £85 ITEM at 88% reliability, and has a UK equivalent type proof of 2.19.

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Archive Article: 1998/06/12

12 June 1998

FROM Peterborough to Plymouth and Ipswich to Inverness arable farmers are backing our "Just Say NO" campaign, opposing government plans to levy an environmental tax on pesticides and fertiliser inputs.

Have you played your part yet? If the prospect of a 125% levy on every pack of pesticide and every bag of fertiliser fills you with dread, why not put your backing behind our national campaign. With the right support from the farming industry, we hope to halt this unjustified burden.

&#8226 Turn to p53 for this weeks coupon.

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Archive Article: 1998/06/12

12 June 1998

&#8226 SIMON Mead, currently the strategic business planning manager for the cattle group at BOCM Pauls, has been appointed head of beef strategy at the Meat and Livestock Commission.

Mr Mead will begin work at the MLC in the summer. His appointment means that all three red meat sectors now have strategy managers, with Mick Sloyan and David Croston already in place running the pig and sheep strategy teams respectively.

The three strategy groups were announced last July.

&#8226 COLIN Maclean, director general of the Meat and Livestock Commission for the past seven years, has announced that he will retire from the post next June.

Mr Maclean, who will be 60 on his retirement, joined the MLC as technical director in 1988 and was appointed director general in 1991.

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Archive Article: 1998/06/12

12 June 1998

Buyers were bidding hard for suckler cow quota at last weeks dispersal at Marshes Farm, Chipstable, Somerset. "The dearest weve ever seen it," said auctioneer Colin Venner of Greenslade Taylor Hunt, with prices topping at £174/unit. Ewes made to £72, cows and calves to £650. "A good trade," said Mr Venner, "but it wasnt that long ago that decent cows and calves could make £1000."

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Archive Article: 1998/06/12

12 June 1998

Kevin Daniel

Kevin Daniel has a mixed

lowland holding near

Launceston, Cornwall. The

65ha (160 acres) farm and

20ha (50 acres) of rented

ground supports 70

Simmental cross suckler

cows, 380 Border Leicester

cross Suffolk ewes and 28ha

(70 acres) arable

REGULAR readers of this column may remember that we sheared half the ewes this winter, eight weeks before lambing.

My original aim was to increase the size of lambs born and the milkiness of the ewes. This has been partly successful. Shorn ewes have definitely produced bigger lambs, particularly those carrying multiples. Unfortunately lack of time and a suitable set of scales has not allowed any weighings to give an accurate comparison.

Milkiness of the ewes seems less clear cut, with milking ability dependent on the individual ewe, regardless of its fleece length. My hunch is that shorn ewes have, on average, lambed with more milk, especially as they had to feed bigger lambs.

Several other benefits of winter shearing have been observed. It has been possible to monitor ewe condition without having to handle them in a race, and ewes have been more content, especially on warm, muggy days when respiration rates of unshorn ewes increase. Also, pens seem less crowded with more room at the troughs, etc.

No lambs from shorn ewes developed watery mouth, although six were lost from unshorn ewes. No shorn ewes were on their back this spring, although four unshorn ewes died in this way.

Obviously, we have also experienced some disadvantages. The first problem was that as shearing took place before scanning, some baron ewes were shorn and realised a lower price when sold as culls.

One ewe aborted two days after shearing – probably due to stress and with no wool to help handle shorn ewes, those needing attention at lambing have at times proved a challenge to restrain. A shepherds crook with a longer handle will be on the shopping list for next year.

The two main disadvantages of winter shearing are probably yet to come. First, our fly control policy must alter and will cost more money as ewes carry heavier fleeces through the summer. Second, I am concerned that ewes with full fleeces in the autumn and early winter may get on their back.

As we occasionally get summer-shorn ewes on their back at this time of the year, I am considering shearing twice a year.

While the value of the wool will only cover shearing costs, the saving in time from not having to check sheep twice a day and an end to inevitable deaths may cancel out the lost revenue. &#42

John Martin

John Martin farms in

partnership with his parents

on the Ards Peninsula 15

miles south of Belfast. The

65ha (160-acre) Gordonall

farm and 16ha (40 acres) of

rented land carry 400

Suffolk x Cheviot ewes, a

small flock of Suffolks and

40 spring calving sucklers.

About 20ha (50 acres) of

barley is grown for feed and

for sale

IN mid-April we had so much grass that it was almost an embarrassment, but by the end of May the shortage of forage was the source of our red faces. True, everyone else was in the same boat, but try telling that to 60 suckler cows, 100 ewes and lambs et al.

The cold spell in early May followed by dry, warm weather led to a standstill on grass recovery. As a result, pasture has been unable to match grazing demands. The good news is that at first-cut silage on May 28/29 – a week earlier than usual – the material was so dry that we have yet to see any effluent from the silo.

Whether it was good luck or good guidance, the rain returned the night after we finished the silage to allow the 150kg/acre of Sulphur Cut to be washed in, followed by a light coat of slurry. The grazing area received 100kg/acre of 27.5% nitrogen to encourage things along again, and we also snatched a few big bales of silage from a couple of acres which may be used to buffer feed cows if we run short during the summer.

Our Limousin bull, along with two others hired in for the occasion, were turned out with cows and yearling heifers just before the end of May to try to repeat this years tight calving pattern in March.

The ewes were all shorn on May 11 with no difficulties, so the upside-down sheep patrols have now ceased!

Lambs have grown quickly of late and 140, surplus to our butchers requirements, were sold through a local lamb marketing group. This is something of a departure for us, but the results seem promising with bonuses for the desired weight and grade.

A diversion in the coming months will be the EU Sheep Advisory Committee, to which I have been appointed to represent CEJA – The European Young Farmers organisation. The UK is well represented and this is a tremendous opportunity for young farmers but also a big responsibility to help secure our future.

Meanwhile, my Northern Ireland Farmer Focus predecessor, Will Taylor, has been elected president of the Ulster Farmers Union. This is no easy task in the current climate and I wish him well in his work. &#42

John Glover

John Glover currently milks

65 cows plus followers on a

40ha (100-acre) county

council holding near

Lutterworth, Leicestershire,

having recently moved from

another 20ha (51-acre)

county council farm

DO THESE contractors know what trouble they cause? We cut grass for silage on May 15, and for two days after that we had a barrage of questions from our six year old. When will they come? What colour trailers have they got? Who drives the forage harvester? And whats an Ag-bag?

We picked up the grass on the Sunday with 35 acres sealed into the Ag-bag in about four hours. The bag itself was cut off at 135ft and is 11ft in diameter, holding an estimated 200t of silage at 28% dry matter.

As I had no clamp to sheet, I had top dressed the aftermaths before milking – it was the easiest silage making Ive done.

The extra cost of the Ag-bag was about £6/t, or about £35/acre, hopefully its claimed reduction in wastage will go some way towards recouping this.

As grass ferments it produces gas and a small hole, about the size of a fifty pence coin, was left in the bag for this gas to escape.

The next morning the bag had blown up and gas was coming out of the hole with a pressure similar to blowing onto your hand. This carried on for four days and must represent a significant loss of energy from the crop.

Once fermentation had slowed the hole was sealed and the loose bag, where it was cut off the machine was weighted down with tyres. Then the whole bag was covered with a net for bird protection.

Our maize was drilled by May 3 and is now well up and will be sprayed for weed control any time. We usually spray a pre-emergence herbicide, but this year the crop was through before the contractor arrived to spray it.

As the soil has dried rapidly since the crop was sown the sprays residual effect may have been lost anyway, it will be interesting to see the control we achieve post emergence.

We are growing Melody on 19 acres, 18 acres of Aviso, and 5 acres of Sophy. Aviso seems the most vigorous at this early stage, although the Sophy has the greatest weed competition with fat hen, which results from heavy dressings of manure over the last two winters. &#42

Louis Baugh

Louis Baugh and his wife

farm 186ha (460 acres) at

Neatishead Hall and 91ha

(225 acres) at Beech Farm

near Norwich in Norfolk.

About 100 autumn calving

Holstein Friesian cows and

followers are grazed on

Broads ESA marshes with

forage from Italian ryegrass

and maize

I RECENTLY visited the Czech Republic. An attractive country belying the idea of backward, inefficient agriculture.

After the fall of communism the land was returned to its original owners, farmed by private co-operatives, many of which have recently converted to shareholding companies.

The major problems facing Czech agriculture are the lack of cash for reinvestment, working capital and the loss of former Eastern Bloc markets. Agreements have been made where little if any rent or dividends will be paid over the next five years, allowing surplus funds to be reinvested.

The interest rate is 20%, with the possibility of a 50% government grant on loans. Overdraft facilities were limited with working capital secured by delayed or structured payment for inputs.

The Czech Republic is self-sufficient in food and only requires two-thirds of the food it produces. The balance has to compete for limited markets or be exported unsubsidised onto the world market at prices below the cost of production.

This has caused rationalisation of the dairy industry by 55% in five years, and sugar beet growers had their tonnage cut by 17% this year.

The milk price is 15-16p/litre with Holstein bloodlines replacing the traditional dual-purpose breed and giving up to 7000 litres.

Cows are tethered and housed all year in traditional buildings, which are gradually being converted to cubicles.

Maize silage, barn dried lucerne, pressed pulp and cereals, with wheat costing them £80/t, are fed, making a high dry matter mix.

Labour use appeared inefficient, with one unit employing 17 staff for 240 cows, however, average wages of £2500-£3000 a year means labour cost rather than numbers is more relevant.

A concern for UK dairy farmers, must be the unanimous opinion of Czech farmers that future EU membership is the solution to their problems.

On the home front much time has been spent on the once in a lifetime exercise of realigning the farm ownership, buying out half the family. The life and value of milk quota pose the biggest problem. &#42

One of the disadvantages of winter shearing is that sheep are more difficult to catch and restrain with no wool, says Kevin Daniel.

Pasture growth during May has been unable to match the grazing demand of John Martins stock.

John Glover cut 35 acres of silage and Ag-bagged it within four hours.

The milk price in the Czech Republic is just 15-16p/litre with a 55% cut in the industry over the past five years, as Louis Baugh found out on a recent visit.

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Archive Article: 1998/06/12

12 June 1998

TALKING POINT

ONE of Britains oldest traditions died last month. The Oxfordshire town of Banbury has had a market since the time of William the Conqueror.

But Banbury Stockyard closed because planning approval for a new market was called in by the secretary of state John Prescott. That left its operators Midland Marts with no alternative but to close. If planning approval had not been called in we would have absorbed the losses and recouped them through low operating costs and efficiency savings at the new site.

Apart from the tragedy of many loyal staff losing their jobs, the loss of Banbury Stockyard has serious consequences for transporters, farm suppliers and local businesses.

They will be even more severe for the many farmers, wholesale butchers and breed societies who rely on Banbury to buy and sell stock.

What is happening to British agriculture? And why did Mr Prescott call in the planning approval?

New Labour could not give a damn about farmers or anyone connected with them. It does not understand country life and does not want to know.

Farm minister Jack Cunningham has consistently denied farmers the support they are entitled to. The paperwork demanded from producers is ridiculous.

Government is obsessed with the interests of consumers. The obsession with meat hygiene and traceability has become an industry; a tax on meat.

The government would like to see the end of livestock markets.The auction system is plain and simple, nothing happens behind closed doors and it reacts with lightning speed to price changes and customer demands.

For many months livestock producers have been losing money. Returns have diminished by up to 50% but producers are still paying the same MLC levies.

That is not right. If theres a hit to be taken, those who live on the backs of producers should not be immune. The future looks particularly bleak for cattle and pig producers and many will not survive.

Meanwhile supermarkets are ripping off the public through the price they charge for meat by adding value with fancy labels and packaging.

They promise farmers a golden future if they join producer clubs and sell direct to them. Yet a few months ago, Tesco informed its producer clubs that it would source supplies in Ireland as supplies of the right quality could not be found in England. The fact is that they were cheaper in Ireland. So much for loyalty to producers.

Many desperate producers are flocking like lemmings to join producer clubs. But it will end badly. They will be forced to accept wages just like the supermarkets other suppliers; vegetable packers in Zimbabwe who are paid 20p/hour or £40/month.

In blocking a new market for Banbury, Mr Prescott had an unlikely ally. Former junior farm minister Tim Boswell MP wrote to the environment department suggesting the application be called in. As Mr Boswell is a farmer who uses Banbury market, I find it hard to understand his reasoning. As an MP, he has an income denied to other producers.

Farmers and countrypeople are the backbone of Britain. It is time that New Labour and Great Britain gave farmers and all their allied industries a fair crack of the whip and the credit they deserve for maintaining this lovely island of ours.

But for planning

approval problems, it

would have been

business as usual at

Banbury in a

new site, says mart

chairman Jim Watson

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