Tough castration rings are a snip
CUT the cost of castration by using own-brand rubber castration rings on this seasons lamb crop from Kent-based manufacturer Net-Tex.
Made on the same machinery as leading castration ring brands, Net-Tex claims its own-brand latex rings are made to the same tough standards as required by the New Zealand government authority.
Available in a bulk bin of 1500 rings costing about £12.28 for large flocks, a 500-ring box is about £4.20 and a 100-ring box is 96p. Net-Tex rings are available from merchants nationwide (01474-813999, fax 01474-812112).
Genus pair give dairy genetics a boost
IMPROVE dairy cow genetics with two additions to the Genus breeding stud.
Chartoise Herby, a high milk and type sire, is the first of the two sires to join the stud. A Mascot son from a Blackstar dam, Herby offers an increased milk yield of 1179kg, over 30kg protein, £100 PIN and £107 ITEM. The company says Herby also rates over two points for type merit and udder composite, with straws costing £18.
The second sire is Holim Apollo, a Faris Wayne son, with £127 PIN and £129 ITEM. The company suggests Apollo is particularly attractive to those producers concerned about falling fat and protein levels. Apollo straws cost £25 (01270-536584, fax 01270-536601).
Revamped cubicles add to cow safety
REJUVENATE old, fixed cubicles to increase lunging area and reduce risk of damage to cows with flexible cubicle guides and straps from manufacturer JNC Multi-Stock.
Available to fit almost all metal, wood or concrete cubicle divisions, each webbing strap is secured with adjustable guides and tightened using a ratchet mechanism. Guides cost £3 and webbing 80p/m (24p/ft).
The company estimates it would cost £75 to fit the flexible strap system to a run of 15 cubicles, including all materials and fastenings.
Straps can be adjusted to match a change in cow size. Available direct from JNC Multi-Stock (01260-290440, fax 01260-290455).
Dennis Bridgeford farms
50ha (125 acres) at Petley
Farm in Easter Ross, about
40 miles north of Inverness.
The farm comprises a
480-sow indoor unit
producing 95kg pigs for one
outlet and 85kg pigs for a
more local abattoir. A further
320 sows are run outdoors.
Land not used for pigs grows spring barley for use in the farms mill-and-mix plant
WHAT a year 1998 has been. Pig prices sunk to depths we could never have imagined in our worst nightmares. Many pig farmers have gone out of business and the damage to others will be with us for years to come.
My warnings of last month regarding high cull sow numbers must have started ringing alarm bells in some quarters. One of the major abattoirs has rung round its suppliers to see how many pigs they have coming through for the New Year and asking about plans to increase or decrease numbers.
Its the first time in all my business life, either running or owning pig units, that I have down-sized a business and I dont like it. We have not built or refurbished any buildings and have reduced sow numbers. Meanwhile on the Continent they have been subsidising pig producers and laughing at our floundering efforts.
I would like to make the unit more efficient for both growing pigs and to ease work load. Wet feeding newly weaned pigs has been a tremendous leap forward. But just when you think youre making headway lack of continuity comes back to kick you in the teeth. If we could extend it to heavier pigs, 25kg plus, it would show savings in labour and feed.
One subject of concern is grain quality. In our area, wheat on the whole is excellent, but barley is very poor. Its easy to blame the weather, but we can almost tell which agronomist has been advising the grower just by grain quality.
But, just like last year, we are competing against the intervention board for tonnes and quality, which cannot be right. Why cant barley growers be like pig producers, sinking or swimming on their own ability and not being feather-bedded by an artificial market?
We must be positive as we reach the new millennium, but I am fed up hearing about it already. I see in its wisdom the government has decided to give everyone an extra days holiday. I must remember to inform the pigs.
Oh well, 1999 is a new year with new challenges, high pig prices and better weather – well it is the panto season. *
Its the first time Dennis Bridgeford has down-sized an enterprise in all his business life. He has reduced sow numbers and stopped building work.
John Alpe farms with his
parents at New Laund Farm,
near Clitheroe in Lancashire.
Besides the tenanted 80ha
(200 acres) the family own
36ha (90 acres), and rent a
further 40ha (100 acres).
About 60 dairy cows and 60
followers, 500 Swaledale
and Mule ewes and 250
store lambs are run on the
farms. Bacon pigs are also
fed on contract
AT THE end of September we had a new batch of BOCM Pauls contract pigs delivered from Hull. These were good, healthy, evenly sized pigs.
However, it will prove to be our last batch of pigs because BOCM Pauls is scaling down its pig production. It plans to concentrate mainly on the eastern side of the country, ceasing its production in the west.
Its local representative told us that BOCM Pauls slaughter around 15,000 pigs a week, so it doesnt take a genius to realise it must be losing serious money on this part of its business.
Previously, we were unaffected by slumps in pig prices, as our pig contract is based on ability to achieve specific targets. However, this looks like the end of the line for our pig enterprise.
We have had pigs on contract for 13 years. Our pig buildings are converted old shippons and adapted poultry cabins. It took 18 months to write off the investment, so they certainly dont owe us anything.
There will only be a small number of pigs that have not reached bacon weight by Christmas and these will be go for pork in the New Year.
I think these will prove to be the last pigs kept on the farm – certainly in my time. I am not sure what the destiny of the buildings will be, with the state of farming perhaps farm diversification will be necessary. The only thing I can think of is Viagra production – which may stiffen my position considerably.
In mid-December, we had a close look at our milk quota position with the help of a quota profile computer program from our feed suppliers. This predicted a 15,000 litre shortfall in milk production to achieve quota.
Armed with these facts we subsequently leased out the excess quota. Our cows have not milked particularly well this winter. However, milk quality is better than usual. Once again, we blame poor weather which has probably been a significant influencing factor. *
John Alpe is being forced to give up his pig rearing enterprise at New Laund Farm, after 13 years.
Peter Wastenage, in
partnership with his parents,
farms a 121ha (300-acre)
farm tenanted from Clinton
Devon Estates. He milks
175 cows, rears his own
replacements and grows
40ha (100 acres) of maize
HAVING said all year that I want a January to March calving pattern, my plans have changed slightly. Our 35 autumn and 10 summer calvers are now running with beef bulls for six weeks. Anything that doesnt hold will either milk-on and be served to calve the following January or be sold.
The reason behind serving them is that the group we have just calved have added a valuable boost to milk incomes when most of the herd is dry. I think the business term is cashflow, but around here its known as being hard up.
All autumn born calves were beef calves which stayed with their mothers for 10 days before they were sold, this has meant little work calf rearing.
Now cows are in organic conversion, we are having a closer look at conservation crops for planting in spring for feed next winter.
Maize has been grown in the past, but we will probably try some other crops such as red clover, lucerne or arable silage. At the moment, Im not too keen on red clover and lucerne because they would need cutting three or four times a season, so contracting costs are high.
Lucerne was grown here in the past. But it was dropped due to the expense of cutting several times and lack of persistency. In theory, it should be ideal on our light ground and well possibly give it another go.
It seems a lot cheaper and simpler to cut a crop once, like arable silage. We will probably grow a combination of cereals and peas, undersown with a white clover/ryegrass ley. This is still being debated and Im trying to find information on different seed mixtures.
This time last year, I remember hoping things would get improve financially for 1998. Weve gone through the year with few positives in the agricultural sector. Maybe the lift in the beef ban will be the kick-start we need for 1999. I cannot see any big lift in our fortunes but any increase to create sustainable incomes would be very positive at the moment.
On that happy note I would like to wish you all a very prosperous New Year. *
Maize will be replaced with other forage crops such as red clover, lucerne or arable silage for feeding next winter, says Peter Wastenage.
Gerald Murphy runs a 107ha
(275-acre) farm, in partner-
ship with his parents, in
County Waterford on the
south-east coast of Ireland.
Dairying is the main
enterprise with emphasis on
milk from grass. The mainly
all-grass unit carries 110
Holstein Friesian cows and
also grows maize and cereals
for home consumption
BY THE time cows are housed each year, I am delighted to finish running around with buckets and bags of concentrate. But they arent in more than a week before our thoughts switch to turn-out.
All the area for grazing in the first three weeks has received slurry at 2000 gal/acre. The first N will be applied when we get some dry weather, preferably five successive days. This N is essential for early grass. We are hoping to turn-out in the first week of February.
Our cows are milking well indoors. Yields are up on last year. We have no recent recording, however, 15 fewer fresh cows and five fewer stales are producing the same milk as this time last year. We are running on quota.
We may split off the highest yielders soon as the feeder is getting fairly full. A few more milkers and we will have to do two feeds anyway, so the only extra work will be during milking.
At this time of year everyones thoughts turn to the year gone and the year to come.
Weather-wise last year was another tough one, price-wise milk was okay, but beef was a disaster. Not long after I came home from college we sold a batch of cull cows which averaged almost £600, the last ones we sold barely made £250 each.
I would hate to be relying on beef for my income when this is the best the politicians, who claim to be working to protect farm incomes, can deliver.
Looking forward, we have experts calmly predicting a 10% drop in milk price this spring. However, with the Irish Dairy Board predicting an increase to processors of 0.5p/litre from todays level for milk, a drop of 3-4% is more realistic.
Farm organisations must work to prevent dairy processors making excessive profits this spring. I wonder if these experts who expect us to accept these price drops would be so calm if their own salaries were being discussed in such a manner.
These same experts tell us that we must retain quotas, even when predicting a milk price drop of 25% between now and 2006 no matter what regime is followed. I think these so called experts will be first against the wall when the revolution comes. *
Cows are milking well, with daily sales the same as last winter from fewer cows, says Gerald Murphy.