Archive Article: 2000/05/19 - Farmers Weekly

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Archive Article: 2000/05/19

19 May 2000

uPIGGING out. Diners eating out chose to eat pork rather than beef in the first three months of this year, according to latest figures from the Meat and Livestock Commission. The amount of beef used by caterers dropped by 11.8% but the amount of pork was up by 5.4%, lamb up by 2% and sausages by 1.2%.

uALMOST 70 countries outside the EU have now agreed to lift their bans on imports of British beef, according to MAFF. The latest country to decide to lift its ban is Ghana. The decision was welcomed by junior agriculture minister Joyce Quin, who said the country was previously an important market for UK produced beef.

uA FARM-HAND whose spleen had been removed after a car accident has become the first person in Britain to die from a rare infection contracted from pigs, an inquiry in Wakefield, West Yorks, has been told. John Forrest picked up a rare variety of Streptococcus suis bacterium which causes meningitis in pigs, one month after starting his job. The coroner recorded a verdict of misadventure. &#42

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Archive Article: 2000/05/19

19 May 2000

Highland cattle breeders were back at Perth last weekend for the annual Spring show and sale. Pictured (left) is Angus Mackays champion Marree Ruadh of Clach-na-Gruagaich which sold for 1400gns. The day also included a reduction of the Tain Fold herd of Alan & Susan Torrence (right) who achieved 1600gns for their bull Aonghas Dubh of Ardtornish (left) and the two-year-old heifer Caileag Geal of Tain. (United Auctions).

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Archive Article: 2000/05/19

19 May 2000

CORRECTION

Annotations on the graph illustrating Soufflets Tracker fund in our grain marketing special last week (Business, p36) were transposed.

The smooth, purple line is the Tracker value, while the spiky green line shows the futures price. We apologise for any confusion caused.

Despite the glitch, Soufflet reports a big response from growers showing an interest in the scheme. "There seems to be an overriding interest in the combination of price transparency and the growers ability to retain an input on the timing of the final pricing," says the companys Mike Stubbs. &#42

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Archive Article: 2000/05/19

19 May 2000

Fred Andrews (centre right) shows off his prize winning hide at the first ABP York annual carcass show which has included awards for the best hides. Mr Andrews is looking forward to receiving his prize of a new pair of shoes made from his winning hide by leather manufacturer Pittards. He is pictured shaking hands with Pittards Arthur Jones, and with the British Leather Confederations Phil Hadley (left) and ABPs David Wood. Five runners-up were given a new pair of new trainers.

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Archive Article: 2000/05/19

19 May 2000

uEU FARM spending is to go up 7.6% next year to k44.1bn (£27bn), according to initial budget estimates. Extra direct income aid, agreed under Agenda 2000, accounts for most of the increase. This is still within the ceiling agreed in Berlin last year, as the commission is spending less than expected on export subsidies. The k130m (£79m) saved may go to help French farmers hit by last years hurricane.

uBRUSSELS has set a target date of 2005 for former communist countries to join the EU, with the exception of Romania and Bulgaria. To accommodate another 10 members, the EU is revamping its decision-making process. This must be complete by the end of 2002, says enlargement commissioner, Gunter Verheugen.

uLAND prices in Ireland have reached record levels, as strong demand eclipses a tight supply. In the July-September period of 1999, only 3000 acres changed hands for an average Ir£3861/acre (£2970/acre), a 20% rise on the previous quarter. Values are also on the up in France, climbing 12.5% in 1999 to average FFr9267/acre (£850/acre).

uEXPORTS of Belgian pigmeat and beef both fell in 1999 after the dioxin scare. Trade data published by the Meat and Livestock Commission shows Belgian pigmeat exports ended the year 6% down at 488,000t while beef and veal exports dropped by 17% from 112,900t in 1998 to 93,800t in 1999. &#42

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Archive Article: 2000/05/19

19 May 2000

SHOW BRIEFS

&#8226 CONCERN is growing that a rapid expansion of outdoor herds could undermine the pig market.

Outdoor units which closed down as returns crashed in 1998 had avoided the extra cost of extended overdrafts and loans which could add 4p/kg to indoor producers costs. That, and lower veterinary, labour and establishment costs meant units could be encouraged to re-enter the fragile pig market.

But the MLCs Mick Sloyan said the increase would have to be considerable to offset the recent decline in the UK breeding herd. There was little sign of that at the fair, with traders reporting no sharp rise in demand for outdoor equipment or breeding stock.

&#8226 THE pig industry is facing a shortage of skilled labour, according to the National Centre for Pig Industry Training.

The centres Mike Bell said numbers coming forward are falling and anecdotal evidence suggests many existing stockmen are still leaving the industry. That could leave a vacuum of staff able to look after stock efficiently as and when pig numbers increase.

His concern is backed up by advisers who report many units are surviving by using family labour only.

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Archive Article: 2000/05/19

19 May 2000

Software for pig herd performance and financial recording with HM Boot pig business services e-pig program is now available on the internet. Accepting the fairs Pig Innovation Award, the companys Fraser Hollingworth said it was a low-cost option for recording from birth to bacon. A demonstration of e-pig is available on the internet and it can be downloaded for use at a cost of £299.

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Archive Article: 2000/05/19

19 May 2000

This 2010 round bale wrapper from Tanco can now be operated behind the tractor or attached to a baler to create a bale and wrap combination. This has been achieved by modifying the wrappers in-cab control box to allow either work positions to be carried out. Standard specification of the wrapper includes a hydraulically adjustable drawbar, while a claw-type cradle is designed to lift 1250kg bales on to a wrapping table with two 750mm film dispensers. Lifting heavy 1.3m x 1.25m bales is achieved by hydraulically lowering an extra support wheel when the cradle is raised. Price is £13,995.

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Archive Article: 2000/05/19

19 May 2000

David Maughan

David Maughan farms on two

farms totalling 172ha (425

acres) in Co Durham on the

Raby Estate. The 45ha (112

acres) of grass supports an

18-month beef system and a

silage beef system producing

200 finished animals a year.

Both use purchased Conti-

nental bull and heifer calves

AS April drew to a close it seemed conditions were destined to remain waterlogged for some time. Surprisingly, ground conditions were transformed over one weekend enabling spraying and fertilising on the arable crops to be completed during the first week of May, to great relief all round.

Our local St Johns church held a sunrise service here at 5am on Easter Sunday, given the early hour we expected maybe a dozen hardy souls. In the event, we were delighted when 55 people turned up for a brilliant service in a paddock on the high side of the farm overlooking the mid-Tees valley.

The sun rose on a perfect spring morning as we tucked into our freshly fried bacon butties afterwards.

Not wishing to labour the ecclesiastic theme too much, but we welcomed the Bishop of Durham to St Johns church last Sunday where he devoted a sizeable proportion of his sermon to the concerns surrounding the farming income crisis.

His support is welcome and it was interesting to hear that he had used his local knowledge on the subject to contribute to the House of Lords debate on farming.

The early May grass growth has been tremendous, given that we had to re-house calves during Aprils wet period, it has caused us to plan our early season grazing strategy again and increase silage area. Some of this land is not easy to silage, but better that than undergrazing.

May is a busy month for us; we need to finish the conversion of a free-range poultry house to expand the flock, we also have to make silage and dispose of the current poultry flock before we set about cleaning the house for the next flock. We are hoping for a settled mid-May period to let this all fall into place.

As we take silage cuts from a fair proportion of the poultry area to control grass, we are planning a direct drill reseed in the time available to rejuvenate one particular grass ley. &#42

Sermon from on high….David Maughans local church held a sunrise service at his farm on Easter Sunday, he was delighted by the attendance.

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Archive Article: 2000/05/19

19 May 2000

Martin case judge had no choice

I suppose it was inevitable that you would receive comment from individuals who disagreed with the outcome of the Tony Martin murder trial. Moreover I was interested to learn that two letters (May 5) supported Mr Martin and had difficulty in accepting that a murder had taken place.

As a lawyer in the agricultural sector (albeit not in the criminal law), I wonder how many people understand the implications of what Mr Martin did on the day in question. Surely no one could condone the use of a firearm other than for the purpose intended – sport. Those of us who hold shotgun certificates or firearms certificates know how difficult it is, and will become, to retain our sport. The nation paid a colossal price for the Dunblane incident which was the act of a single individual. Balanced and reasonable firearms users throughout the country lost their right to small arms sport.

The human dimension of the Martin incident deprived a human being of his life using a firearm. This country has for centuries held property more sacred than human life and our statute books are full of examples where the penalty for violation of property is greater than violation of human beings. The victim at that isolated Norfolk farmhouse may well have had wrongful intent in the context of burglary but an attack on property does not justify a fatal attack on a human being. The victims background is irrelevant.

Mr Martins defence was that he acted in reasonable self-defence. But self-defence relates only to a charge of murder and it either succeeds or it fails. If it succeeds, there is an acquittal and if it fails, there is a conviction. If there is a conviction, the trial judge must follow the law (decreed by parliament) and pass a life sentence; his hands are tied. There is much talk of manslaughter but manslaughter was never pleaded by Tony Martin.

Many lawyers, myself included, feel that the mandatory life sentence for murder should be done away with and the matter of the appropriate sentence left to the trial judge.

David J Douglas

76 Westgate Place, Louth, Lincs.

Sugar beet deal a real shambles

What another fine mess the NFU has got us into. After the debacle of the assured crops scheme, we now face the fiasco of the so-called sugar beet deal. For a reward of a miserable 40p/t, growers and hauliers are being forced to work 16 hours per day, 7 days a week to deliver beet to the factory.

The huge cost, together with the environmental impact on small villages en route to the factories cannot have sank in with growers. Hauliers have advised growers that the increased cost of working out of hours will be passed on. The extra hours will add a huge bill to an already beleaguered industry. British Sugar should keep its tops and crowns and its 40p/t. Scrap this ridiculous proposal, and lets return to the status quo and allow sanity to prevail.

Shropshire farmer

Name and address supplied.

NFU must grab the thistle

FW has been supportive of the idea of linking producers returns, in part, to the end users price rather than to the vagaries of the middlemens margins. Earlier this year, you allowed me to contribute a Talking Point (Jan 21) along those lines.

The response has been interesting but one overwhelming theme emerges. The NFU has to change if it is to continue as the major representative body of the farm industry.

It is trying to be all things to all farmers and failing at most of them. It has to split off the activities that are the natural remit of a trade association and either decide to concentrate on those, or as an extra, commercial activity, become a leader/facilitator in the struggle to add value to commodities.

If it decides on the first priority, it can remain at the leading edge in the political debate and provide all the help to its members which flow from that position. The effect on its outgoings and physical structure would be dramatic but it would have a defined role and its successes would be apparent and rewarded.

If it wants the additional role then it will have to appoint a commercial head and the two operations should meet only at president level.

The responses to my article tell me that the NFU has no clue as to the commercial realities it and its members face. It is incapable of reacting to the changing market because it has neither the right men at the top nor staff with the background, training or quality to undertake commercial activity.

Will the membership wake up and demand a conference, not the annual stage show, to give the NFU a new direction? Or must those of us who wish it well but are beginning to despair remain silent while the industry implodes through lack of leadership?

The challenge is to create an organisation that can embrace the cold wind of the marketplace. To create a body that is respected by government but which also provides access and support to the commercial activities that have to be put in place if we are ever to escape from being commodity producers.

D Hill

Okehampton, Devon.

Real truth on organic farming

Organic wheat yielding 4.9t/ha at £200/t; what a rosy picture Mr Wherry (Letters, May 5) paints. What are we waiting for?

Of course, he did not tell us the whole story. He forgot to mention that it takes five years to move from conventional farming to organic. He also did not tell us that wheat is grown only on a three-year rotation and, of course, there is always quality to consider.

Apart from the usual set-aside, grass is necessary and to use this, cattle must be kept and, at present, they are losing money. So his £400/acre from his wheat crop spread over three years would look poor indeed.

Many wealthy people have ventured down this road, but most of them do not have to rely on farming for a living. We are conventional farmers, but we do pay due regard to wildlife and try to enhance this bleak area with trees and hedges. We do not blast the guts out of everything that flies in the autumn.

E W Bell

Wingland Grange Cottage, Terrington St Clement, Kings Lynn, Norfolk.

New Labour in for nasty shock

The ongoing exodus from British farms and the fact that the average age of all farmers is over 55 is a disgrace.

If New Labour, of which I am a member, thinks it will have the huge support it gained at the last general election, then the farm minister and his Cabinet colleagues better think again. The former permanent secretary of MAFF has gained a knighthood and an excellent pension and a package of financial compensation. I would like to know how would he like to suffer a rural failure?

John E. Willett

14 Eastgate Road Holmes Chapel Cheshire.

Best lupin work carries on

I read with interest your editorial about the lupin crop (Opinion and Arable, Apr 21). You are right, the lupin crop is a serious contender on UK farms, and a real market exists for the protein-rich feed produced. Lupin is a broad term used to describe all members of the genus Lupinus and it is important to make the distinction between the different types of lupins.

The only varieties supported by comprehensive independent research are the autumn-sown determinate white lupins. The agronomic and physiological research is funded by MAFF, EU and the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council??? at IACR Rothamsted and at the Institut de la Recherche Agronomique (INRA) in France. The different lupins exhibit different feeding qualities, however, the feeding studies carried out by ADAS and SAC over the past 10 years have used exclusively white lupins.

During the mid 80s, seed merchants importing varieties directly from eastern Europe caused the lupin lunacy to which you refer. Varieties such as Kiev Mutant and Vladamir were untested in the UK, and it soon became obvious that their indeterminate growth habit made them unsuited to our conditions.

The lupin crop in the UK is at a critical point in its development. We have available a range of autumn-sown determinate white lupin varieties that are fully tested in the UK and underpinned by an extensive knowledge-base which is available free.

That creates the opportunity to introduce the first truly new crop to the UK for many years. However, we are also seeing a range of spring-sown varieties imported from eastern Europe. They are unsupported by any knowledge-base and are often misleadingly described. That serves only to create the opportunity of repeating the mistakes of the past.

The work at IACR Rothamsted has incorporated a search for potentially suitable spring-sown lupins. However, none can be recommended at present. In Denmark, where the summers are similar to those in the UK, the search for the most appropriate spring-sown varieties also continues, but, so far, none can be recommended.

Ian Shield

IACR Rothamsted, Harpenden, Hertfordshire.

Must be up to UK standards

In Philip Richardsons letter (Apr 21) he refers to the little red tractor and British farm standard logo as identifying the origin of produce as British. The point that is not made is that in order for the logo not to be regarded as anti-competitive, and therefore unlawful by the European Commission, it must be open for other EU producers to use it on their produce. That is provided the product can achieve the equivalent standard to that which constitutes the British Farm Standard on similar produce.

Sally Stanyer

Barker Gotelee, 41 Barrack Square, Martlesham Heath, Ipswich.

Chickens, wheat and kangaroos

UK wheat producers cannot be compared with those of the USA, Canada or Australia (Features, Feb 25 and Letters, Mar 10 and Apr 14). In all countries, there will be some exceptionally good farmers, while others will be hopeless. What makes a country different is the circumstances. It may be the high value of the currency, but mostly the climatic advantages or disadvantages. That is why farmers migrated only when the returns were much higher than at present.

Where big wheat exporting countries need only 1t/ha to break-even (with wheat at £64) even the UKs most efficient producers needs more than 8t/ha. Trying to compare the two is, as Mr Scales says, like comparing chickens with kangaroos.

T Thain

Lower Fant Road, Maidstone, Kent.

Battling rats no cheap business

I write regarding Mr Drakes letter (Apr 21) Health at Risk from Rats. I have a small rodent business and this year, farmers and householders are telling me they have never had such a problem with the quantity of rats as they have experienced last winter.

Unfortunately, conscientious farmers and householders who try to rid their premises of rodents may find they are doing so at considerable cost. In effect they are having to control a whole neighbourhood of rats. That can amount to several hundred being killed by trapping and shooting, plus a large quantity killed by poisoning from one premises alone.

There is no government help available towards the considerable cost farmers and householders can incur in the seemingly never-ending battle to rid this country of these disease-laden rodents.

On reflection, the way farming affairs are conducted at government level they may well put rats on the protection list.

Gerald Warnes

47 High Road, Needham Harleston, Norfolk.

Right to roam has positives

I was disappointed to read Anthony Prices pessimistic outlook (News, April 28) for the freedom to roam in Wales.

The new legislation will allow the public to walk only on specific, mapped areas of open, uncultivated land, subject to strong safeguards to protect agriculture, wildlife and the environment. These safeguards are laid out in the Countryside and Rights of Way Bill, and anyone failing to adhere to them will be treated as a trespasser. Public rights and responsibilities in the countryside will therefore be much clearer.

Meanwhile, greater access to the countryside looks set to have widespread benefits for the Welsh economy. A recent report by Prof Peter Midmore of the University of Wales, Aberystwyth, concluded that better access to rural amenities, through a legal right to roam and improvements to the footpath network, could lead to much-needed new Welsh jobs.

The freedom to roam is great news for Welsh people, town and country dwellers alike. Once the legislation has been implemented successfully in Wales, I sincerely hope that Mr Price will come to see it as a positive step for our country.

Beverley Penney

Director, RA Wales, Tyr Cerddwyr, High Street, Gresford, Wrexham.

Gangs stealing dogs for abroad

I would be grateful if you could draw your readers attention to the fact that hundreds of dogs are being stolen annually in this country. Most are taken from properties with exposed boundaries such as farms. All types of breeds are stolen, the most popular being gundogs.

The theory was that, in nearly all cases, travellers were responsible but, from information received, it appears that organised gangs are operating a very well planned scam. We believe that the dogs are ending up abroad possibly in Spain, Southern Ireland, Japan, America or Europe. They are being stolen for a variety of reasons. The dogs are nearly always pedigree, young and entire. If your readers would like to discuss this matter my telephone number is 01903 772176.

June Bailey

PO Box 3058, Littlehampton, West Sussex.

BSE is blunder of science

I was pleased to see your article (Features, Apr 7) on alternative theories about the development of BSE. As a beef farmer and contributor to the BSE Inquiry, I have become concerned that important evidence to the Inquiry was not being reported in the media. The most important element that was missing from the Inquiry was proper representation for farming. I believe that BSE is a blunder of science but farming has taken the punishment.

The most relevant fact revealed to me during the Inquiry has been the use of bovine tissues in injectable products. If BSE can transfer by being eaten, then its ability to transfer by injection has to be greater.

The next logical task is to consider which tissues have been used where and in what situations. Evidence to the Inquiry shows there was concern over a high risk practice; the use of pituitary extracted hormones. Before the emergence of BSE, it had been realised that cadaveric human pituitary extracted growth and fertility hormones, used to treat restricted growth in that children and fertility in women, had spread CJD to the recipients. The same practices were being undertaken in animals, in fact sheep, cow and pig pituitary hormones had been injected into many species offering an effective method of disease transfer. If that practice did not spread BSE, it is unlikely bovine tissues used in heat treated vaccines would evoke a problem, first, by transfer within species, second, across a species barrier.

If theres no correlation between these practices and BSE, we should consider other causes. OPs are prime candidates since research shows they can adversely affect hormones in their breakdown process, interfering with signalling and transcription. But hormones are just one of many biochemical pathways disrupted by OPs which would have an exacerbating effect on neurological/immunological disease processes.

One of the biggest failings in the BSE scandal has been the monitoring of adverse reactions to pharmaceuticals and chemicals used on farms. It is well documented by shepherds and farmers poisoned by OPs. Yet the system placed them in extraordinary denial from the organisations set up to monitor, recognise, record and correct the dangers. With this known situation for humans, what chance is there of achieving recognition for their animals, as is the case with BSE.

Joanna Wheatley

Long Lane Farm, Touchen End, Maidenhead, Berks.joannasbeef@compuserve.com

What is wrong with UK flag?

When I think of Abraham Lincoln, I think of a great President of the United States, a lawyer who espoused good causes, and an opponent of evils such as slavery. Reading this anecdote reminded me recently of the controversy surrounding the British tractor food logo.

A friend took Lincoln to see an acclaimed canvas by an indifferent artist. He looked at the picture and commented, "The painter is very good and observes the Lords Commandments. I think that he hath not made to himself a likeness of anything that is in the heavens above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the waters under the earth!"

That quote is particularly appropriate for the new British food logo. Why dont we use the British flag as the logo? It is widely known all around the world?

Walter Weston

Swansturn, 23 West Bank, Carlton, Snaith, Goole, East Yorks.

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Archive Article: 2000/05/19

19 May 2000

HURRAH for hefty hubbies! Sitting in the kitchen in the middle of last week I was really cold. In spite of a very promising weekend, the weather quickly changed back to cold, grey autumnal climes and I was glad of Tims baggy cardie for comfort.

Who forgot to let the spring out?

By Friday we were back to a heat-wave and Tim was champing at the bit wanting to get the ploughing and maize drilling done; it has been too wet to work the fields. The contractors came out to start the maize but very soon after broke down and it was three hours or more before they got going again, by which time the skies had darkened, clouds gathered overhead and thunder and lightning was homing in. At 10pm when Tim went out to his office to unplug the phone and computer, lightning bounced off the garden gate in front of him.

The only furrows being made at the moment are those etched in Timothys forehead.

Its 2am that same night. Tim wakes to find a space in the bed beside him.

"Hello?" he says.

"Hello," says a voice from the bathroom.

There are no lights on.

"What are you doing?" he says.

"I dont like it," says the voice from the bathroom.

"Its all right, dont be daft. Look, Ill roll over by the window, you get in this side."

"No, its all right, Ill stay here a bit."

"Okay. Snore…"

I sat in the bathroom for half an hour but the lightning didnt ease up at all. It was flashing on and off over the house for an hour. I must be getting old, I dont like it but Ive never been so disturbed by it before. It may have something to do with the fact that our house looks a bit like a Christmas tree at the moment. We have shredded strips of aluminium paper threaded on baler twine stretched across the top of our windows as a deterrent to the house martins nesting. Would this attract lightning to the windows? What idiotic ideas go through your mind when your sleep is disturbed. Well anyway, after half an hour in the bathroom, in the alternative dark and very light, and not having a cosy cardie to hand, I crept back into my, now cold, side of the bed and slept.

That was Friday, it is now Monday and there is no change to the story, we are all still having very close temperatures alternating with rain and occasional thunder. Tres strange.

Without wishing to upset anyone, and before pen goes to paper, I must say we are compromising with our feathery friends this year. I dont want nests in my bedroom, bathroom or kitchen windows, and so far the aluminium decorations are being effective. However, my daughters are not as cold-hearted as me and I have promised to clean all the mess from their bedroom, bathroom and the lounge windows in September, so they neednt go completely homeless.

Twenty-seven nests, I feel, was a little excessive.

On strike… lightning strike alert, that is. Chrissie wonders what happened to the hot weather.

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Archive Article: 2000/05/19

19 May 2000

Grandad

GRANDADS age is a mystery. Its been "just turned 70" for the past 20-odd years. Not that he tells people that. His stock response to anyone who asks is: "Mind your own bloody business." Adding, if theyre under 50: "You cheeky whippersnapper."

His names a mystery, too. To his relatives, hes just Grandad. His friends, however, call him Jack, the neighbours call him John and his God-given name – revealed, last Christmas, by his sherry-fuelled niece – is Herbert. Mrs Weston, the sub-postmistress, occasionally refers to him as "Big Boy".

But Grandad isnt big, not any more. Hes thin and wiry – just like his Jack Russell, Chip, which can be constantly found at his feet. Quite a contrast, really, to the 16-stone hunk of a man who used to toss hay bales above head-height with such ease. Quite a contrast to the man who, with skilled and sensuous hands, used to work horses for 15 hours a days.

He doesnt do much work on the farm nowadays. "Ive been demoted to feeding the calves," he complains. "Better speak to the boss," he snaps when feed reps call. "Put your feet up – you deserve a rest," his sons say.

He goes to market once a week and wanders around giving his opinion, whether its wanted or not. Usually its not. But hes always right. The batch of cattle that he dubs "good uns" always end up making the most money. If he says its a "poor sort" then it always ends up with the worse conformation of the batch.

Quiet times see him touring dispersal sales, poking through piles of junk and spending a bob or two. Not that a pension goes far, these days. "I would have liked to get it cheaper," he says of his latest acquisition, a £1 spanner.

Most of Grandads sentences start with either "In my day" or "When I were a lad" and end in a tirade against computers. "What these youngsters need is common sense – not computers." Computers, he points out, wont hoe the sugar beet.

Other pet hates include television, anyone with a college education and Europe. All of it – but especially Germany. Grandad remembers rations, you see. He also remembers Winston Churchill. And, while he cant remember any of his relations names, he can remember the names and birth dates of six generations of pedigree stock.

Grandad lives in the bungalow out the back of the farmhouse. He lives on bread and cheese in the summer, soup in the winter – occasionally even unsticking the roll-your-own fag from his lower lip when doing so. He slurps his soup noisily past his one remaining tooth which sits defiantly in the middle of his mouth like a cricket stump.

Grandad gets up at 4am. "Its years since Ive had a decent nights sleep," he complains to the feed rep, seemingly oblivious to the fact that, if you added together all the time he spends napping in the day, that alone would total six hours.

"Mustnt grumble," he says to the rep. Then adds: "You better speak to the boss, anyway – Ive been demoted to feeding the calves."

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Archive Article: 2000/05/19

19 May 2000

INTERESTED in flowers? Then why not take advantage of a special ticket offer available to farmers weekly readers for the four-day Regents Park Flower Show in London next month.

The flower extravaganza – first held in 1839 – is likely to attract 80,000 visitors through its gates between June 22 and 25. "It will have the air of a garden fete but with all the facilities that are expected in the heart of London," promise the organisers. "Plenty to see, plenty to do – but easy for people to relax there, too."

Among the many new

features this year will be a display of Ludisia, a tiny orchid less than 6in high, and the Student Show Gardens. Question and answer sessions will also take place, along with an advice centre and plant

clinic.

farmers weekly readers can buy tickets in advance for £9.50 for adults and £5 for children (compared with gate prices of £16 and £6) by filling out the coupon below and returning it before June 9 to the

address shown.

Regents Park Flower show

Adult Child

Thursday June 22 ……… ………

Friday June 23 ……… ………

Saturday June 24 ……… ………

Sunday June 25 ……… ………

Total no. of adult tickets at £9.50/each ………

Total no. of child tickets at £5/each ………

Total £: ………………….

Name……………………………………………………………

Address…………………………………………………………

……………………………………………………………………

……………………………………………………………………

Postcode……………………………..

Please return before Jun 9 enclosing a postal order or cheque (payable to the Regents Park Flower Show ) to:

Farmers Weekly Reader Offer, the Regents Park Flower Show, Godalming, Surrey. GU7 1HJ

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Archive Article: 2000/05/19

19 May 2000

Mike Allwood

Mike Allwood is owner-

occupier of 82ha (200-

acres) near Nantwich,

Cheshire. The 175-cow dairy

herd block calves during

May and June. Besides

converting to organic

production, he is also

planning to produce

unpasteurised cheese

WE managed to keep the cows out during the wet weather – just. I had kept the two driest grazing fields in reserve, and by entering them at a different point every grazing we managed to keep poaching damage to a minimum.

Because of our early turnout we already have many fields coming back round for a second grazing and I now have to decide which of them will be shut up for silage.

We will make our first cut in two batches; one early in May, if the weather is fine, and the other at the end of the month. By doing this I hope we will have new grazings coming through in both May and June, for our fresh calvers.

The best laid plans never come to fruition. I had planned to plant spring wheat undersown with grass/clover, but by early May no cultivation has been done as the fields have been too wet.

Unfortunately, we have already subsoiled two paddocks and spread muck – with accompanying ruts – on all four. To compound things, the grass was too long for ploughing so we grazed it with dry cows in the worst of the rain. All in all, we now have a bit of a mess.

I think it is too late to sow wheat, so we are going to use harrows, roller, topper and dry cows in various combinations to tidy these fields up, and reconsider our options in mid summer.

Recently a neighbouring farmer came to tell me that he was going to host one of the latest GM trials. I was disappointed because I think GM crops may do untold long term damage to us and the environment. I may also lose my Soil Association licence if they decide that my crops can be polluted from his trial sites.

As a result, I have to fill in a risk assessment form detailing my field by field cropping for the next two years, maps showing our distance from the site and direction of prevailing winds. Yet more paperwork that I could have done without.

I also found myself talking about GMs on local TV news. Consequently, they were queuing for my autograph at the rowing club the following night. &#42

Mike Allwoods early start to grazing means he has to work out which fields on his second grazing round will have to be shut up for silage.

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Archive Article: 2000/05/19

19 May 2000

IN BRIEF

uMILDEW remains a serious threat to malting barley and can affect grain-fill, yield, and market acceptability even of resistant varieties not fungicide-protected, growers have been warned. "All varieties, even those classed as resistant to mildew, respond to infection with a sharp rise in respiration," warns Dow Agrosciences agronomist Stuart Jackson. "Precious energy reserves are deployed to fight the infection and diverted away from grain sites. This limits grain-fill resulting in poorer samples, not the plump well-filled grain maltsters are looking for."

uLATE nitrogen applied to winter barley intended for malting could limit tiller retention and produce bolder samples with slightly higher grain N contents, says Hydros Jim Lewis. He believes it is important to keep awns well fed and so does not favour a rigid end of March cut-off for N applications to the crop. "The main yield driver is the awn. It is responsible for 50-60% of grain fill, so it needs to be kept growing. No-one wants a lot of tillers." &#42

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Archive Article: 2000/05/19

19 May 2000

Giles Henry

Giles Henry rents 105ha

(260 acres) on a 10-year

lease and 114ha (280 acres)

of heather moorland near

Selkirk in the Scottish

Borders. Cropping is mainly

grass with 10ha (24 acres) of

spring barley. It is stocked

with 650 breeding ewes and

95 hoggs, 30 Luing cattle

with followers and finishers

I was really glad that we were not lambing in April, having seen as much rain in one month as we have probably had all winter. What made the month worse was biting cold winds, hard frosts, sleet and snow.

Calving has been going well with 28 cows calved and a calf ratio of two heifers to every bull, which is pleasing. We have lost two calves, one of which was born on a cold sleety morning when I was late in going up the hill to check the cows.

I had an excuse, as the lorry collecting our first consignment of spring lambs had delayed me.

The other calf loss was a strange one, which I had never seen before. The cow appeared to lose her afterbirth, or at least part of it before she had actually calved. This meant the placenta had detached itself from the calf while it was still in the womb and the calf was born dead. You live and learn.

As I mentioned before we have started selling spring lambs and to date have sold 46, averaging 19kg on the hook. And they have come to reasonable money.

There could be a good butcher/catering market for these lambs and I will certainly pursue this for next season. It may be worth having a look at our market possibilities anyway, as by 2002 we should have organic product coming on stream.

On May 4 we brought cows down off the hill to some good grazing for those with calves, and onto a field next to the house for those yet to calve.

It will be easier for my daughter Fiona to look after them – with help from the neighbours – while Alison and I jet off to California for 10 days to attend my cousins wedding.

All our youngstock have gone out as well, to a good bite of grass and pleasant sunshine. Spring barley is through and the sainfoin and grass are also appearing. After all the rain, the welcome sunshine that we now have should bring things on a treat. &#42

Giles Henry has begun selling spring lambs, 46, averaging 19kg on the hook, have gone so far and they have come to reasonable money.

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Archive Article: 2000/05/19

19 May 2000

BERWICKSHIRE/

N.NORTHUMBERLAND

Sun, May 28, 12.30 for 1pm. Millennium lunch at Milburn and Elsie Jacksons home, View Law, Bowsden. Cancellation by May 22 to Yvonne (01289-386787). June visit to Dobies and tea at Carfraemill, names to Jean Neill (01668-216285).

CHESHIRE

Wed, June 7, 9.15am. Meet at Foreways Inn for trip to Oswaldtwistle Mill, Lancs. Friends welcome. Contact Gillian (01829-751045) or Jean (01829-781242).

DERBYSHIRE

Tue, May 23, 1.45 for 2pm. Meet at Notty Hornblowers, Hope House, Alstonefield. Cream teas available, order in advance to Pam Walker

(01773-550342).

DORSET

Thu, Jun 8, 6pm. Meet at Bournemouth International Airport, Hurn for tour followed by buffet supper. Send £9 to Anne Hooper, South Farm, Tarrant Hinton, Blandford DT11 8JA.

NORTHAMPTONSHIRE

Tue, June 13, 6.30pm. Meet at Dickenson and Morris, Melton Mowbray for a Pork Pie Evening. Own transport, husbands invited. Contact Grace Curtis (01604-811006) by May 19.

NOTTINGHAMSHIRE

Tue, Jun 6, 10.30am. Meet for coffee at Taylors Garden Centre, Normanton before going on to the Great Hall at Southwell Minster for lunch at 12.30pm. Conducted tour of Minster in afternoon. Lincs Brigg members will be joining us. Contact Margaret Collingham (01623-882256)

by June 1.

SHROPSHIRE-OSWESTRY

Mon, May 22, 6.15pm. Meet at Wood Lane Quarry, Ellesmere, one mile from Ellesmere on Cockshutt Road. Strong shoes or wellington boots are

necessary. Names to Mary Wilkinson

(01938-590228).

SHROPSHIRE-SOUTH

Thu, May 25, 6pm. Meet at Sutton Mill Farm, Hopstone, Claverley for farm walk with emphasis on conservation. Husbands and friends welcome. Names to

Jane Cotham (01746-710340).

STOUR VALLEY

Thu, May 25, 10am. Meet at Hook Norton Brewery for tour followed by lunch at Gate Hangs High. Visit local gardens in afternoon. Contact Jane Ridgway (01295-680262) or Muriel Paxton (01295-680357).

SUSSEX

Wed, May 24, 6.30pm. Meet at the Spur, Slindon for a skittles evening. Cost £11 per person including food.

Contact Sue Kittle (01903-742469).

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