Archive Article: 2002/05/24 - Farmers Weekly

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Archive Article: 2002/05/24

24 May 2002

Plenum (pymetrozine) aphicide is now available as a double-strength wettable granule instead of a wettable powder, easing handling and packaging disposal, says Syngenta potato technical manager Michael Tait. It also has a new seven-day harvest interval, which should help avoid a repeat of last autumns migration of aphids to surrounding oilseed rape as potato crops were desiccated. Plenum is unique in being the only aphicide to control all aphids, including those resistant to other insecticides, stresses Mr Tait.

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Archive Article: 2002/05/24

24 May 2002

Providing wet feed at the point of delivery offers the advantages of wet feeding without risks of food becoming stale, says GE Baker – Quality Equipment. It, therefore, developed a Jetmix feeder, which uses a nudge bar to deliver dry feed and instantaneously delivers water on top. The new feeder for pigs from 7kg to 40kg won the Pig and Poultry Fair Pig Farming Innovation Award. A feeder for 40 pigs costs about £400, but will improve feed intakes and growth rates, said the company.

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Archive Article: 2002/05/24

24 May 2002

Hawes Market in the Yorkshire Dales held its first live breeding sheep sale on Tuesday, after DEFRAs revision of the rules governing live markets on May 15. Vendor George Preece is seen here selling North Country Mule gimmer hoggs with Suffolk cross lambs at foot. They fetched £88 an outfit as buyers packed around the sale ring, with trade at realistic prices, says market manager Maurice Hall. (See Stock and Sales page 33.)

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Archive Article: 2002/05/24

24 May 2002

Flagging up grass potential…gloomy weather forecasts may have put silage-making around the UK on hold, but they no doubt helped boost visitor numbers at Grassland 2002, Stoneleigh. The once-every-three-years jamboree of everything to do with grass and grass machinery was packed out – and the showers (mostly) held off too.

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Archive Article: 2002/05/24

24 May 2002

The second-hand combine market looked in a healthy state on Tuesday evening when three TX32 New Holland machines from MJ and J McLarens Cronan Farm, Coupar Angus, Perth went under the hammer in one go. United Auctions auctioneer Pat Lawson cant recall a similar one-off sale in his 46-year career and was pleased with the bidding, which he said was a bit above trade-in value. The combines were 11 seasons old and attracted eight to nine buyers, who fought it out to pay a top price of £20,100, and £19,400 and £19,200 for the other two. All three combines went to farmers in Scotland.

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Archive Article: 2002/05/24

24 May 2002

Beef exports could be easier soon

Overseas consumers have been denied the benefits of British beef for long enough.

Despite the introduction of the date-based export scheme almost three years ago, the scheme has proved so restrictive that no British abattoir has been able to use it.

The biggest problem is that plants have to commit to the scheme 100%. They are not allowed to process for the home market as well.

But that could soon change as Brussels considers time dedication of abattoirs under the DBES. Veterinary inspectors are currently in the UK, assessing the controls in place to justify such a move.

Lets hope they are satisfied with what they see, and then real progress can be made towards rebuilding Britains beef industry.

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Archive Article: 2002/05/24

24 May 2002

Clearing confusion over mycotoxins

Cereal ear spraying is just around the corner and disease-conducive conditions mean timely fungicides are likely to be worthwhile. But dont confuse the significance of mycotoxin-producing fusarium.

Mycotoxins are potent chemicals. At high doses they can have a dire effect on livestock, particularly pigs and poultry. They may also affect human health. But little is proven and EU limits have yet to be imposed.

Until those are adopted, or buyers impose their own standards, the message is clear. Using a fungicide to protect yield and quality may pay, but upping triazole rates to combat mycotoxin production is unlikely to. Unless that is it helps to boost feed intake in your pigs and poultry.

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Archive Article: 2002/05/24

24 May 2002

Wind and rain frustrated attempts to apply flag-leaf fungicides this week. Here, Geoff Hipperson makes the most of last weeks calmer conditions near Marham in Norfolk to take out wild oats with Topik (clodinafop-propargyl) before his planned Twist (trifloxystrobin) plus Eminent (tetraconazole) flag leaf mix. "There is not much disease in the crop so I am not desperate to get on yet," he says.

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Archive Article: 2002/05/24

24 May 2002

&#8226 One of the youngest heifers in the catalogue made the top price of 2800gns when the Bromstead and Almond Holstein herds staged a joint fixture at Borderway Mart, Carlisle. Almond Angel, a March 2001-bred heifer by Risecrest Emerson, was offered for choice along with her full sister. They were out of the 10,200kg heifer Almondene Rudolph Angel. Buyers C Gibb and Son claimed several of the higher priced lots. Their wagon load included the March 2001-bred heifer Bromstead Jed Rhapsody, bred out of a 10,400kg heifer by Startmore Rudolph. She made 1800gns. Messrs Gibb also gave 1700gns for two lots, Bromstead Emerson Placida, who has the 14,844kg Shoremar Star Placida as second dam, and the Oliveholme Aeroline daughter Almond Briana. Wigtownshire, Scotland dairy farmer WG Forsyth paid 2600gns for Almond Emerson Kimo, an April 2001-bred heifer out of Painley Jabot Kimo, while A and C Watson, Cockermouth, Cumbria took Almond Leduc Beauty at 2000gns. Beauty is agrand-daughter of the much garlanded cow Rainyridge Tony Beauty, the world cow of the year in 1999.Averages: Bromstead – 79 maiden heifers and heifer calves £662. Almond – 11 maiden heifers and heifer calves £1665. (Harrison and Hetherington)

&#8226 East to west was the marketing ploy behind the sale of 300 head of Holstein cattle from the Essex-based Horkesley and Moorplace herds when they were moved for dispersal to Hatherleigh market in Devon. A 9000kg second calver by Celsius topped the trade at 1000gns. Tracing back to some good Hanoverhill breeding, she was bought by M J Webber, Barnstaple. Vendors HM and GM Knighton (Horkesley) and Messrs C Norman (Moorplace) enjoyed a good trade for youngstock with calves at foot consistently making 300gns and more. Autumn-calving heifers peaked at 750gns for a Painley Knighthood daughter out of a three times 10,000kg dam. (Norton and Brooksbank with KVN Stockdale)

&#8226 Three bids of 1350gns led the trade at the Border and Lakeland Holstein Club sale at Carlisle. First at that level was Wormanby Wa Olga, a 1998-bred cow by the Aerostar son Wormanby Airmail consigned by local dairy farmer Harry Hodgson. Buyers were M and C Cockburn, Kirkby Stephen, Cumbria. A smart team of heifers from Jimmy Baillies Dalserf herd at Larkhall, Lanarks included one good enough to share the top slot while the third call at 1350gns came for a Lystel Leduc heifer out of an Ex Monogram cow from the Rattrig herd of J G Shanks and Son at Hawick, Roxburghshire.Averages: 13 cows and heifers £1014 and four bulls £1141. (Harrison and Hetherington)

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Archive Article: 2002/05/24

24 May 2002

Easton Lodge still in black but only just

Arable profits are unsustainable. Nowhere is that spelled out more clearly than in our Business Section this week which reviews last years financial performance at FWs Easton Lodge Farm.

Our warts-and-all analysis typifies the problems facing UK growers. Although the farm remained in the black in 2001, it did so by a small margin.

That was scarcely enough to pay a years grocery bills, let alone provide the much-needed capital investment which could underpin future profitability.

Naturally, few farmers would be willing to reveal their financial position so openly. We are pleased to do so, as a benchmarking tool for our readers, and to provide honest evidence of our industrys dire position. Policy makers please take note.

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Archive Article: 2002/05/24

24 May 2002

Correction

FEEDING pigs crimped wheat cost £9.40 a head, compared with £12.10 for the control diet, not as stated in the table in Livestock, May 17. &#42

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Archive Article: 2002/05/24

24 May 2002

School farms can create customers

Ask a group of young schoolchildren where meat or milk comes from and theres a good chance the answer will be "the supermarket".

School farms have a vital role to play in reversing this worrying trend by providing all children with the opportunity to learn where, and how, their food is produced. They also offer urban children a chance to explore a new and fascinating world which in turn helps to foster trust and respect between two very different ways of life.

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Archive Article: 2002/05/24

24 May 2002

Try to understand road safety rules

High speeds, narrow lanes, wide machines – sounds like an accident in the making? Not necessarily. Planning journeys carefully will help to ensure safety for farm staff and other road users.

It also pays to understand the laws governing the transport of farm equipment on the road, as our Machinery Section explains.

So, at this of the year, when every minute counts and country lanes are full of farm and domestic traffic, why not take a few more minutes to study our guidelines and think about safety matters? It could prevent a tragic and costly accident.

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Archive Article: 2002/05/24

24 May 2002

Hopes of a victory against pig disease

The battle against pig wasting diseases rages on. But until the cause is known, the search for a cure will be painfully slow.

However, a straw poll of pig producers, carried out by FARMERS WEEKLY at the Pig and Poultry Fair, revealed several had managed to find a solution. But often what seems to work effectively on one farm, does not succeed on a neighbouring unit.

Lets hope the industrys new regional self-help group initiative for producers to share their experiences will provide researchers some clues to solve this mystery illness and bring this battle to a speedy and successful end.

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Archive Article: 2002/05/24

24 May 2002

Correction

BASF oilseed rape and vegetable herbicide Aramo contains tepraloxydim, not as stated in last weeks issue. &#42

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Archive Article: 2002/05/24

24 May 2002

The Under-30s section of The Farmers Club could hold an annual ball after the success of the recent inaugural Spring Ball which drew nearly 250 people to Covent Garden, London. Revellers danced the night away and raised £1300 for the ARC-Addington fund, which gives cash help to

hard-pressed farming families.

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Archive Article: 2002/05/24

24 May 2002

Need the manoeuvrability of a skid-steer loader but with smaller dimensions to work in confined areas? Bobcats mini MT50 skid-steer loader is just 91cm wide and 1.12m long yet boasts a 227kg lift capacity to a height of 1.9m. Controlled by the operator walking behind the machine, the MT50 weighs a touch over a tonne and is powered by a 20hp Kubota diesel engine. Price is £11,500.

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Archive Article: 2002/05/24

24 May 2002

Correction

In the New Products section of our May 10 issue (p80) we published an incorrect phone number for Aquatak – a pressure washer manufactured by Bosch. The correct number for Bosch is 01332-372196. &#42

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Archive Article: 2002/05/24

24 May 2002

I CAN understand why they did it," said Cherry as we were discussing the results of the first round of the French

elections.

"Everyones fed-up with a government that

consistently turns a blind eye to their problems."

Thus speaks the voice of a young woman with four years experience of living and working in multi-national Paris, afraid of taking the metro home at night for fear of being molested, and avoiding certain lines altogether, even in the day as they are renowned for being unsafe. Her boyfriend, Fred, was threatened with a knife one morning on

his way to buy croissants for breakfast.

Cherry has the worry of not knowing what sort of school she may be placed in. She has little choice in the matter as any request she may make can be refused; it is worked on a point system where she gains points for age,

experience, being married etc. and priority is given to the teachers with the highest points – those, therefore older and more

experienced. The young,

fresh-out-of-university can end up anywhere, in some of the worst areas teaching difficult children from difficult backgrounds.

Would Cherry and I be looking for English

teaching jobs back in the UK if Mr Le Pen had been successful second time around? More than likely!

It all came as a surprise, and several of my English students said that they were tearful when they heard the results that Le Pen had got such a strong following and with all the possible implications. We couldnt vote ourselves, still being British Nationals, and neither could the girls who havent changed their nationality so far (they may do when it comes to marriage if they settle with their French boyfriends, we dont know). This didnt make any difference to Tim doing his stint at the Mairie during the voting on the Sunday afternoon, as a member of the local council.

He has also been called on for his first official role as secretary to the Mayor of Guerquesalles at a local wedding where a Belgian boy married a French girl in front of Moroccan

witnesses with an English secretary – what a very international do for such a small commune!

Well, Jacques Chirac has been re-elected with a thumping majority

courtesy of the Left Wing, and so far his choice of possible caretaker (until we know the results of the June legislative elections) Jean-Pierre Raffarin, has pleased Tim as he is an "homme de terroir" having kept sheep of his own.

Discussing this with our sheep technician, Francis Taupin at his son (my godsons) communion last week, Tim discovered that Francis has met him and, more to the point, likes him. Apparently he is a man who has come through the ranks of

business; one of his new nicknames is El Gringo taken from the adverts of a coffee company that he once managed. Tim

reckons that a coffee-drinking businessman wearing wellies as Prime Minister means there is hope for us yet!

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Archive Article: 2002/05/24

24 May 2002

Transformation will ensure biosecurity

LIVESTOCK exhibitors at this years Royal Bath & West Show will find the old showground lorry wash transformed. The Society is investing £64,000 in biosecurity measures, including new washing facilities that will allow livestock vehicles to be cleaned and disinfected to new, higher standards set by DEFRA.

Throughout the show all livestock will be contained in a biosecure area with disinfection facilities at all entry and exit points. But show visitors will enjoy the free access to livestock areas that have always been a traditional attraction, and will be able to wander along the lines of cattle and pigs just as usual.

The good news is that DEFRA has agreed to extend the designated biosecure area to include the main ring during one of the shows main crowd-pullers – parades of animals on the Thursday and Friday. Show administrator Paul Hooper explains that livestock access to the rings will require no more security than visitors and exhibitors are now accustomed to in the interests of health and safety.

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Archive Article: 2002/05/24

24 May 2002

A good chance to meet the customer

"THIS show is a really important opportunity to get back on the front foot with our consumers," says Andy Flint, regional agricultural manager for NatWest, sponsor of the dairy and pig classes at the event.

"We have a built in advantage in the south west – a brand image of good countryside and good food," he says. "We need to exploit that, using best practice to produce the finest products and offering them to the consumer in ways that meet their demands."

Mr Flint suggests that although farmers have little scope to influence their commodity prices, they are able to maximise the benefits of what they can control. He considers the show offers them an unmatched opportunity to meet their public and discover how they can benefit from supplying consumer needs. "Its an opportunity to get closer to the customers – see what they need and find out how to supply it," he says. "Thats why were keen to support the show."

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Archive Article: 2002/05/24

24 May 2002

2001 was a show year to forget

A YEAR ago, like so many others in agriculture, Paul Hooper contemplated his lifes work in ruins. One of the earliest and largest of great regional shows, The Royal Bath & West, of which he is administrator, was cancelled, with losses of £640,000 and a third of the workforce redundant.

Many believed that foot-and-mouth spelled the end of traditional shows packed with the best of British livestock. Some still say things will never be the same again.

So will this years Bath & West be back to normal? Well, not quite. But organisers are pleased, maybe a little surprised, that total stock numbers at the 2002 show are down by only a third.

Look a little closer and its easy to see that the overall total shows farming still in recovery. Horse numbers – an astonishing 1540 this year – are unchanged. So farm stock are the losers.

There are no sheep or goats (nor more exotic species such as alpacas). That results from an early decision taken by the Royal Bath & West of England Society, due to the disproportionate and variable impact of the recent strain of F&M on sheep and related species. As recent suspect but ultimately negative cases have shown, there was a high risk of losing the entire show stock only to subsequently discover that a suspect animal was clear.

Mr Hooper is secretary of the Association of Show and Agricultural Organisations, keeping him in constant contact with DEFRA as they wrestled with decisions about the 2002 show season. He commends the department for its efforts to help show organisers pick up the threads after last years disasters.

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Archive Article: 2002/05/24

24 May 2002

Any advice for Sven & the lads?

There were two confirmed cases of foot-and-mouth in Korea recently. I wonder if the World Cup is in jeopardy as we all remember the chaos of cancelled sporting events of last year in the UK? What is the official DEFRA advice to Sven Goran Eriksson and his squad on bio-security?

William Almey,

Tavistock Farm, Antingham, Norwich, Norfolk.

Biodynamics is not witchcraft

David Richardson describes biodynamic farming as "mystic" and says its adherents believe in witchcraft (May 10). Some years ago I spent a weekend on a biodynamic farm which much impressed me. Later, I described the procedure, including planting crops according to the phases of the moon, to an old countrymen, who listened carefully and responded: "Yes, we always did that."

So Rudolf Steiner, who initiated the biodynamic movement, seems to have given age-old farming traditions a scientific basis – not that life can ever be wholly scientific. All good farmers know there is a mystical quality about the relationship between the soil and all that comes from it. As in so many other spheres, science can only provide part of the answer to our questions.

J Bower

Hon Secretary, The Farm and Food Society, 4 Willifield Way, London.

Open mind to natures work

Having just read David Richardsons views (May 10) on biodynamic agriculture and having practised those methods for nearly 50 years, it is only right that the record should be put right.

The connection of this worldwide movement to witchcraft is nonsense. The origin of this impression, gained from a Sunday newspaper is not one on which such a damming statement should be based without further checks. These would show that the Demeter International movement is based on food produced by using these methods and that many countries have their own bio-dynamic association backed by extensive research.

In Australia 1m acres are so treated. That is not because there are many crazy farmers, but simply because it works. The Dutch government employs two advisers to give advice on such methods. Research work is carried out not only at the Balk Institute in the Netherlands but also at many other centres including those in Germany, Sweden, Switzerland and USA.

If we delayed for a scientific explanation for homeopathy before using it, just because it could not be explained by scientific thinking, which is continually developing, it would be a long wait. Also would we accuse farmers who use homeopathic methods of practising witchcraft?

We should consider that there is more at work in the living world of plants than may appear. Perhaps, we need an open mind and a deeper sense of wonder to come to a clearer understanding of what is at work in nature.

A G Brockman,

Perry Court Farm, Garlinge Green, Canterbury, Kent.

How will WSS benefit Wales?

To what extent will English sheep producers miss out when more than £2m is invested in a new beef and sheep development plan in Wales (Livestock, May 10)? The money is not designated for Welsh farmers, but to enhance the finances of the administrative structures of agricultural support agencies in Wales.

There is little doubt that this cash will be well received by MLC Wales, which experienced dramatic financial losses due to foot-and-mouth. I am sceptical that technology transfer is likely to prove to be that vital key which will solve the financial and social problems many farmers face.

Surely, the need to identify the country of origin of all meat products and the need to identify locally produced supplies of beef and sheep from traditional breeds reared in a traditional manner would be more beneficial to farmers.

We are encouraged by our Assembly government in Wales to expand our tourism industry. The best way farmers can contribute is to promote the benefits of locally produced meat produced in an environmentally friendly manner. I am uncertain as to what benefits will be achieved by the new Welsh Sheep Strategy other than providing a number of well paid jobs for the participating partners.

Arnold Pennant

Nant Gwilym, Tremeirchion, St Asaph, Denbighshire. Arnpenn@aol.com

In defence of Maris Otter

I write in reply to the comparison made between Pearl and Maris Otter (On Our Farms, May 10) and in defence of Maris Otter. Having failed to achieve any premium, which is rare, the crop will struggle to stack up. Over 90% of growers achieve the full premium each year.

Had the barley achieved the correct grade, Maris Otter would have outperformed Pearl, as it consistently does. Costs could have been saved on fungicide applications. The crop never requires five fungicide applications. Rather than rushing out with agrochemicals at the first sign of autumn disease, it is more cost effective to allow the weather to control disease at that time of year. Although not as robust as some newer varieties, being 40 years old, it does not succumb to disease as easily as suggested. Better timing of fungicides during the growing season could help.

The premium for Maris Otter is now £10/t higher than last year, which puts other varieties even further down the pecking order. We also ensure the crop is grown only on the right ground with the right people to ensure they have every chance of achieving the full premium. These growers have perfected their husbandry techniques and grow the crop to a very high standard and to a known end user.

In the south, returns from winter barley continue to fall, mainly due to lack of markets. But Maris Otter provides a market-driven, profitable option.

Jonathan Arnold

Malting barley buyer, Robin Appel Ltd. jonathan.arnold@robin-appel.com

High yields at what price?

It is axiomatic that feeding must be adjusted for high-yielding cows (Livestock, Mar 15). Veterinarian Jack Payne of the ARCs Research Institute at Compton, in his book "Metabolic Diseases in Farm Animals", writes: "The problem is that the dairy cows output tends to be obligatory, and even in time of input shortage, the production received priority, even though the cow dies in the process."

High-yielding cows live on a knife-edge. Inducing higher productivity in animals always exacts a price, whether of continual discomfort, disease or shortened life. We should have learned that our farming system is not producing healthy livestock with a robust immune response. BSE, foot-and-mouth and current diseases afflicting pigs indicate that something is radically wrong. Forcing higher production is likely to increase the problem.

J Bower

Hon Secretary, The Farm and Food Society, 4 Willifield Way, London.

RSPB doesnt blame farmers

Geoffrey Hollis (Talking Point, May 3) accuses the RSPB of being "economical with the facts" about bird declines. Yet massive declines of song thrush, blackbird and house sparrow, to name but three species, have occurred since 1970 and are all too real even though recent mild winters may have allowed a slight recovery in numbers.

However, the RSPB does not claim that all birds are declining, although we believe far too many are. Although changes in farming practice have driven many of the population changes that we have seen in farmland birds, the RSPB does not blame farmers for bird declines and we work with farmers to support their vital conservation role.

He also claims the RSPB receives funds from DEFRA to run Hope Farm. This is true – like every other farmer with eligible land we receive standard IACS payments plus funding for a stewardship agreement set up by the previous owner. Mr Hollis can find regular updates of our work at Hope Farm on the RSPB website, www.rspb.org.uk, and in recent articles in Crops or The Farmers Club Journal. A lot of farmers/farming industry representatives have visited the farm to see how we are looking for viable solutions for both farmers and wildlife.

Mark Avery

Director conservation, RSPB UK Headquarters, The Lodge, Sandy, Bedfordshire.

Misguided public meddle

I write in relation to a recent incident that has implications for the right to roam debate.

Without my knowledge, a member of the public, an RSPCA officer and a member of the veterinary profession entered land grazed by my suckler herd. They approached a cow with a young calf and administered treatment to the calf, without having ascertained that it had been attended by myself and my vet and treated only two hours before their intervention.

The calf died and they removed it to other premises. The first knowledge I had of these events was during my stock check early the following morning when I discovered a distressed cow at the gate.

Putting aside considerations of possible theft, illegal movements, inappropriate actions in relation to the welfare of the cow and the rest of the herd, unethical, unprofessional and misguided actions, it questions the advisability of allowing the uninformed public onto your premises.

That is particularly true when the hitherto respected organisation, the RSPCA and the farmers ally, the veterinary profession, can be coerced into a knee jerk response to farming matters by trespassing members of the public.

John M Barker,

12 Swanston Field, Whitchurch on Thames.

Use research in existence

I am writing about your article (Livestock, Apr 26) on Johnes disease. What happened to all the research at Weybridge Central Veterinary Laboratories in the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s. Prof NH Hole led the research, and my father, encouraged by our local divisional veterinary officer, Reid Chalmers, contributed to it. The disease was present in our dairy herd.

We, with the help of Prof Hole, developed a system to combat the disease. That involved the removal of the calf from the cow within 24 hours of birth, the calf was then injected with a live vaccine before seven days old. The cows were zero grazed, all the replacement heifers came from the herd and were reared away from the main farm and did not return to the farm until after their first calving.

It was noted during the research that certain cattle bloodlines were more susceptible to the disease than others. The disease took its toll on our farm with the loss of 169 cows over 20 years. But we did beat it in the end, sticking rigidly to the devised management plan.

I was also privileged to see a letter from Weybridge to a local farmer that said, because of the hopeful eradication of TB, Johnes disease could become more prevalent. That was in the early 1970s. The disease is now being noticed in North America and since the research exists, it would be a big waste of money if it were not used.

Roger Haynes,

Box 675, Neepawa, Manitoba, Canada.

Dont dabble in the unknown

Fiona Davies (Letters, May 10) accuses me of being naïve with my views of the Countryside March. My definition of naïve would be marching to protest about the closure of village shops when at home theres a larder full of Tescos goods.

Or complaining about rural bus services when those Tescos shopping bags were packed in the back of a Volvo. And lets not forget that on issues such as modulation, the NFU – for all its faults – has infinitely more weight and experience.

Stick to what youre really good at, Countryside Alliance, and thats campaigning for the future of field sports. Dont dabble in other issues, or youll make fools of yourselves.

Charlie Flindt,

Manor Farm, Hinton Ampner, Alresford, Hants. Flindttowers@aol.com

Farming future – there is none

It was the worst year that British farmers have ever suffered in recent history. Thousands lost their stock to foot-and-mouth while the rest of us lost money and sleep. But DEFRA says (News, May 10) that it has no intention of claiming the £72m of agri-money compensation due to us last year. The reason, it would appear, is that it has better things to spend taxpayers money on. Presumably those include maintaining the Millennium Dome, paying civil servants to keep their mouths shut or funding endless committees, but not to help farming.

The message is clear: No need for a debate on the future of farming in Britain, there is none. While farm consultants are encouraging you to invest in expansion, none of them or their companies will lend you the money or stand security for it. They are just singing from the government songbook and it is the same old song about profitability being just a few more cows away. We have heard it all before.

They say the only herds to survive will be those of more than 300 animals. But before you have finished paying for the new sheds and parlour, that will have risen to 500 and then 1000. So think long and hard before you sign the rest of your life away.

M W Fisher

Ivy House Farm, Stoke Golding, Nuneaton, Warks.

Family farms on way out

France subsidises its farmers at every opportunity. You dont hear of large farming companies with big machinery in France, as here. If the government looked after the small farmers like the French do, these big farming companies would not exist.

They cannot run 1000 acres or more without subsidies. And where did they find the money to buy the land and big machinery which can cost £ thousands?

The subsidies for these companies should be withdrawn and if they cannot live without subsidies they should reduce their acreage. It is these companies which are buying up small holdings adjoining their land to get even more subsidy. It should not be allowed. Also it stops anybody else purchasing the land to set up in farming.

Soon, there will be no family-run farms lets. These are the people that grow real food with taste and flavour. You will not find that from mass production using large amounts of sprays and fertilisers.

Family farms keep beef stock which produces good farmyard manure, which is spread on fields to put back in the soil what the crops take out. It maintains the soil in good condition for the next crop. These are the people that should be looked after and supported with grants.

During the foot-and-mouth epidemic, where was Tony Blair? He cannot be bothered about farmers. But when he was campaigning to be elected, he needed our vote then.

Scottish farmer

Name and address supplied.

Dont raise fighting bulls

I hope any British farmers considering farming in Spain will not be including raising fighting bulls in their agenda.

With the threat of fox-hunting being banned in this country on the grounds of cruelty, the continuing practice of this gruesome pastime makes one question who draws up the rules for the so-called common market? It must be a great comfort to the bulls to know they die with honour.

Pat Measures

West Farm, Toller Whelme, Beaminster, Dorset.

Sign up for good practice

I recently saw a notice in one of our local newspapers seeking applications from the public for membership of the Area Environment Group of the Environment Agency. Unfortunately, I did not fall within the geographical boundary of the area concerned but I understand that the Environment Agency is now starting to concentrate on the effects of agriculture on water purity and the environment and would welcome applications from farmers interested in being a member of the group.

If agriculture is to be certain of promoting good practice and, in particular, integrated farm management, then it should be represented on such groups. I urge readers to consider making an application to their local area office of the Environment Agency to ensure that they are considered when vacancies become available.

Lvell W Fairlie

Stonesdown Farm, Stony Batter, West Tytherley, Salisbury, Wiltshire.

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Archive Article: 2002/05/24

24 May 2002

Its the season for records. Only weeks ago Massey Ferguson set a new world 24 hour ploughing record, managing to turn over 251.376ha (620 acres). This week its the turn of Vaderstad, which claims to have achieved a new record by using a 6m Rapid A 600C to combine drill seed and fertiliser over 164.2ha (405.5 acres) in 24 hours. The marathon took place at Gurdskulla, one of Finlands largest crop farms, 50km west of Helsinki using 100 tonnes of fertiliser and seed.

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Archive Article: 2002/05/24

24 May 2002

Kiotis 45hp and 50hp compact tractors can now be supplied with a high specification factory-fitted cab. Equipped with sound and vibration damping, the cab has tinted windows, an opening roof hatch, radio cassette player, together with a heater and four work lights. Distributed by Rustons Engineering, the tractors have three tyre options for use in agricultural and amenity applications. Price for a 45hp tractor with cab and lugged tyres is £16,950, while the 50hp model costs £17,475 with the same specification.

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