Archive Article: 2001/09/07 - Farmers Weekly

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Archive Article: 2001/09/07

7 September 2001

KEEP YOUR CGIs, PINs ANDPLIs

USING the complex breeding index system has been no help to the average commercial milk producer, says Rodger Lindsay.

"We have had CGI, and PIN and PLI. These fancy figures were marketing creations of the AI industry. They have no real meaning to most ordinary hard working producers.

"Holstein heifer lactation figures have made some colossal leaps and the figures look great. But these levels of performance are not sustainable in commercial conditions and that is what so many dairy farmers have found to their cost."

He finds it hard to understand why animal breeding experts tell him he is not progressing, when he proposes to use a bull whose dam is bred from three generations of 100t cows because he has a PIN value of -£60.

"In my view the PIN value is unimportant. This is exactly the type of cow we need to be breeding from; these are hard wearing cows that calve in the same month every year, produce up to 8000kg and last up to eight lactations. It is these later lactations that are the most profitable.

"But we have reached a stage where progress in modern breeding terms is judged by how much milk can be got out of a heifer in the first 100 days of lactation. That cant be the right way to go forward." &#42

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Archive Article: 2001/09/07

7 September 2001

Tagging red rubies…. Producer William Weston tags a pedigree North Devon calf. The North Devon is a traditional breed which is slow to mature, typically finished in 24-30 months. There is growing demand for purebred beef sold locally, says Mr Weston. More than three generations of his family has reared the breed at his Kersdown Barton beef unit, where there are currently 40 North Devon suckler cows.

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Archive Article: 2001/09/07

7 September 2001

Hefted flocks to roam the fells once more

Hefted flocks, which have run on Lake District fells for more than 1000 years, are irreplaceable. But their hefting ability, passed through generations of flocks, is threatened by foot-and-mouth.

Dedicated producers are determined that hefted flocks will again roam the fells and supported by the National Trust, a scheme to allow restocking has begun. The scheme will use miles of electric fencing which will have to be maintained for years.

Much hard work is in store. But it is a hopeful sign that traditional sheep production will continue. Perhaps the public should be reminded that dedicated producers are motivated by a sense of heritage. With recent profits poor or non-existent, it is a big commitment which deserves praise.

NFUMutual take-over not on for present

Press reports speculating about an imminent take-over bid for NFU Mutual are premature. Talk about big windfall payouts following demutualisation are also exaggerated.

Although potential backers have held talks, negotiations collapsed some months ago.

The man behind them says he may try again. If he succeeds in forcing a vote on the issue, many farmers would be tempted to grab the cash. But, rather than the £25,000 windfalls quoted, most would gain much less.

Admittedly, it could still be a tempting sum. But longer term, it could prove costly. NFU Mutual has a good record in looking after its clients. It also maintains the NFUs group secretary structure. A company answerable to shareholders, rather than its membership, is unlikely to do either.

Organic food image is being put in jeopardy

Admissions by Brussels that conventional food is being passed off as organic "on a considerable scale" is worrying.

Although the sector remains relatively minor, its continued success depends on consumer confidence in the absolute integrity of their product.

Headlines suggesting otherwise damage the reputation of all farmers, not just organic ones.

The organic sector prides itself on delivering wholesome food, guaranteed by comprehensive certification and inspection.

A similar arrangement must be developed for merchants and traders, at EU level, to close what is a loophole in the legislation.

Dont miss chance of a beef get-together

Livestock producers have had few chances to meet this year thanks to the mass cancellation of local and regional shows and meetings. But on Sept 14, beef producers will have the chance to get together to discuss key industry issues at Beef 2001 at Cirencester.

After long consideration, the organisers have decided to press ahead. Following strict DEFRA guidelines on foot-and-mouth precautions will form a key part of the event. Co-operation from visitors will also be important.

Vehicles must be clean for disinfection to be effective and farm clothes and boots should be left at home, according to DEFRA advice. Following such guidelines should help everyone enjoy a worry-free and informative visit.

Much too risky to sow untreated cereal seed

Sowing untreated cereal seed could save farmers a welcome £15/ha (£6/acre) this autumn. But it could just as easily lead to disaster.

Treading the right line between success and failure demands a small, but crucial, investment in seed testing first. Fail to do that and establishment could stumble as microdochium nivale infection causes fusarium ear blight. Bunt, loose smut and leaf stripe could also ravage crops.

Pressure from such diseases may be very low this season. But dipping into the heap and sowing untreated, untested seed with fingers crossed is far too risky. So why not get it tested first?

Wanted:Student who can write a column

Students, heres your chance to make some cash and feature in your favourite magazine. Were offering someone the chance to write a monthly column about student life. We will pay you for it and publish it in Farmlife.

Were looking for an honest, informative and entertaining account of all aspects of student life – everything from the academic work to the social side.

So, whether you fancy yourself as a budding writer, or just want the cash, check out the competition in Farmlifes College Special.

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Archive Article: 2001/09/07

7 September 2001

With a length of 11m and weighing in at 11t, Amazones new Centaur cultivator is not in the small league. In its 5m working width build – there are also 6m and 7.5m versions – eight packer wheels at the front precede four rows of spring tines on 20cm spacing. These are followed by two rows of scalloped and angle adjustable levelling discs and finally by a wedge-wing press roller. In operation the weight – and depth control – is taken by the front and rear presses. For transport and headland turns a central wheel assembly is lowered to lift the unit clear of the ground. Requiring a minimum of 250hp to operate, the 5m version costs £37,000.

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Archive Article: 2001/09/07

7 September 2001

Modern cultivator point replacement is all about knocking on and knocking off, it seems. Top is Kvernelands new knock-on plough point which fits to a newly developed share unit and is a replacement for the traditional share and point. Apart from allowing quick point changes, the two-section unit to which it is attached also enables its quicker wearing wing part to be changed independently of the share. Left is the Canadian designed knock-on cultivator point available as an option on Knights Triple Press. Points are slid up the tine shaft until they reach a stop and are retained by a spring loaded button which locates in a hole in the front of the point.

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Archive Article: 2001/09/07

7 September 2001

Farmland Market

The autumn issue of Farmland Market, the only reference source for detailed facts and figures about the UK farmland market, will be published again soon by farmers weekly in conjunction with the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors. It includes a three-year land price forecast, quota analyses, topical articles written by leading professionals and details of land and farm sales completed during the first half of 2001.

With spring and autumn issues, Farmland Market is available on subscription at £90/year (£55/year to RICS members). For further information, contact the editor Andrew Shirley (020-8652 4920 or e-mail andrew.shirley@rbi.co.uk).

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