A GM-free forage ration supplement
ORGANIC cattle and sheep producers can now supplement forage rations using Bio Blocks from Dallas Keith.
The blocks contain non-GM soya, wheat protein, trace elements, vitamins and molasses, according to the company.
An anti-bloat Bio Block is also available containing poloxalene, permitted by the Soil Association as an anti-bloat agent, it says.
The company recommends ad-lib feeding the 20kg and 50kg blocks which are supplied in edible cardboard containers.
A 20kg Bio Block costs £7.50 and a 50kg block is £21. The 20kg anti-bloat Bio Block is £12.60, while the 50kg block costs £32 (01993-773061, fax 01993-771338).
Safer method of delivering rodent bait
SAFER rodent baiting of round bale stacks is possible using a bait placer, says developer VES Pest Control.
With producers using bait bags to protect bales from rodent damage, positioning the bags well out of reach of children and farm animals is important, it says.
The bait placer has a spring trigger and stainless steel shaft and will deliver bait to awkward areas – where rats run – that are out of sight, adds the company.
It costs £25.99 (01433-621199, fax 01433-621714).
Feed gives rams essential fatty acids
BOOST ram performance using Clover Super Vitality feed, says manufacturer Harbro.
The feed provides a balanced supply of essential fatty acids which research shows maximises the reproductive performance of rams, according to the company.
Essential fatty acids cannot be synthesised by rams and must be supplied in the diet for optimum sperm count and viability, it says.
Clover Super Vitality contains fishmeal and fish oil, it says. Recommended feeding rate is 0.5kg a head a day for 90 days before tupping until the end of the season.
The feed costs £800/t (01888-568882, fax 01888-563939).
EARLY warning of mastitis in individual quarters is available through a monitoring system from distributor Jenisys.
The company says the monitor is suitable for fitting to all makes of milking machinery and works by measuring milk conductivity in individual quarters.
Trials show that an increase in milk conductivity indicates probable onset of mastitis three to four days before visible signs in milk, according to the company.
Sensors integrated into the claw design are connected to an indicator box. A light flashes on the control panel when conductivity or milk temperature levels are outside the normal range, it explains.
The system – including clusters, indicator box and transformer for a 10 point parlour – costs £4350 (tel/fax 01608-662919).
Gordon and Mary Capstick
farm 230ha (569 acres) at
Milnthorpe in south Cumbria.
Stocking is 100 suckler
cows, with calves finished
alongside 100 purchased
stores, and 1200 Mule ewes
producing prime lambs.
About 10ha (25 acres) of
barley and 6ha (14 acres) of
soft fruit are also grown.
FIRST cut silage went well. It is always satisfying to get a good, rain-free cut under your belt. At least it is one worry out of the way.
The weather forecast seemed to be getting it right – rain, more rain – so we had an all-night session for the second year running. This proved just as well, as it really poured down the following day.
We are now well into sheep clipping. We did our own for the first time last year with borrowed equipment. This year we built a clipping trailer with three clipping points. We started with four Metro wheels from the scrapyard and it took three of us a week to make it, in-between jobs.
It certainly saves us time as our sheep are kept in seven groups. Shearing is not a lucrative job at the moment, but it has to be done on welfare grounds.
I do not like the idea of practically giving the wool away when I am told it will not pay enough to get a contractor to do the job. Why should we have to work for nothing?
Mary and I had a day off recently and went to Lowther for Beef 99. I was very impressed with the event, it had plenty of trade stands and visitors. It was good to see the Minister open the event and stay for about five hours, no doubt he got an insight into the problems of beef farming at first hand.
We went on the estate farm tour that took two hours. The sheep and suckler cattle were looking great and a credit to manager John Reid and his staff. The business has a turnover of £1.5m and is not expecting any of enterprise to be profitable in 1999. What hope is there for the rest of us?
Summer calving cows are now producing. At last count there were 15 left to calve. Some of them are cows that have lost a bit of time for one reason or another, but are still good cows and will stay with us for some time yet. *
Miles Saunders farms with his
parents on an organic, mixed
370ha (915-acre) farm in
Oxfordshire. Main enterprises
are 200 milking cows and
followers, 190 Mule ewes,
50 beef cross stores and 70
beef cross calves. Winter
wheat, barley, oats and
beans are grown for the
RECENTLY I visited Holland with my local dairy discussion group. These trips are both fun and educational.
The most important points I picked up from the research stations visited was how to get the most benefit from slurry and farmyard manure, through correct timing and method of application. There were some striking improvements that I could make at home to reduce nutrient loss and get better crops as a result.
In Holland, farmers are prohibited from spreading slurry between September and February, to reduce the risk of leaching. And when applied, slurry must be injected.
On top of this farmers must produce a nutrient balance sheet for their farm. Their current average surplus of more than 300kg of N/ha is to be reduced to 180kg of N/ha by the year 2008.
At home, staff have been busy cleaning out sheds and spreading dirty water. The muck heaps have all been turned to encourage composting. This makes manure more available to plants when applied. We have used a Hymac for the first time to turn the muck and it has worked well leaving no wheel marks.
We have planted 27 acres of maize this year. The establishment has been about 90% but, because of the wet weather, we were unable to inter-row hoe the crop as early as needed. Since then, it has been harrowed with the Einbock weeder and inter-rowed again.
Lambs continue to grow well. The first batch of finished lambs should be sorted for sale in mid-July, having started lambing back on March 15.
Ewes are in good condition, but mastitis has caused a few problems this year. Ive had five cases in 200 ewes. I dont know why we should be troubled this year.
In addition a few lambs have gone lame, I think the long grass they have been on has probably caused some scald. Fortunately, most of these lambs seemed to cure themselves.
I am currently trying to sort out my staff situation. We have been one full-time member of staff short since last September, and jobs are piling up. Good staff seem to be in short supply these days. *
Christian Fox has taken
over management of 100
cows and followers, on a
200ha (500 acre) mixed
farm in West Sussex, with
150ha (380 acres) of arable
crops. The plan is to
increase profits and lower
costs by producing more
milk from grazed grass
I GAVE my crystal ball an airing this month to predict, or guess, our milk production and cashflow during this year of transition to spring calving.
We should be able to keep milking until mid-November. Cows will then be dry until Feb 6 when calving begins.
By my calculations, we should produce half our quota this year and lease out the rest. Milk production costs will remain at 18p a litre. With no calf income, but with income from leasing out quota we should still make a small profit.
The odd shower of rain has kept the grass happy. Growth here is 65kg DM/ha a day, still above cow intake requirements of 42kg DM/ha a day. Thats despite having not applied nitrogen fertiliser since April in order to depress growth. However, grass quality is beginning to suffer slightly so its on with 35 units after the cows to perk things up and alleviate my nitrogen withdrawal symptoms.
There are 15 days grazing ahead of cows which gives us a good window should we hit a dry spell. This window will allow us to slow the rotation using buffer feed and match cow demand to grass growth.
Having finished the second cycle of AI, 26% have repeated to first service. This seems good, but I think I have missed a couple. I expect to calve 85-88% of the herd in the first six weeks, starting on Feb 7. So, it looks as though we have a calving pattern at last.
Having started breathing a sigh of relief about AI, the Gurus of Gloom are now predicting high re-absorptions as cows havent been in calf and have been bulling for so long. Worth noting that these Sages of Sadness are all men.
I must remain vigilant until we actually finish serving on July 20, to ensure there are no loose ends. I have used a Kamar on four cows seen by the vet, three cows I think I have repeated but not been spotted and four May calvers not yet served.
Next month, I shall predict the outcome of the MMC enquiry into Milk Marque, using tarot cards and tea leaves. *
John Davies runs an upland
farm in mid-Wales. The main
holding at Pentre comprises
145ha (360 acres) of grass,
with some short-term grass
lets being taken, and hill
rights extending to 97ha
(240 acres). Stocking is
101 suckler cows, 975
ewes, 230 Beulah Speckled
Face ewe lambs and 35
FIRST of all, can I correct a misprint in last months article which said that silage had been done by May 1. It should have read that stock had been turned off it on May 1 to allow it to start growing.
Many people have questioned me about this, including some from the Welsh Office. With HLCAs under review at the moment, let me reassure you its nigh impossible to make silage in May up here.
After all the hard work preparing for the YFC rally, undertaken by our club, it was great to see so many people taking part in such a wide range of activities having fun and learning new skills. But it was quite muddy by the end of the night and I think the car park may need ploughing.
Shearing of hill ewes has taken place earlier than normal. With preparations for the deployment of troops to Kosovo, all graziers were advised to remove sheep from the military range for 10 days while exercises were at their busiest. We decided it was easiest to shear them when they were down. But having them home has put some unplanned pressure on grazing.
We found ourselves short of grass, so the first pit was cut at six weeks, two days after turn out. The second pit, due to the need for more ground to come back into grazing, was cut at five weeks. It seems good quality silage, but we will need some second cut for quantity.
Cows are calving quite quickly with the heifers being a little slower. The beef trade seems to be firming a bit and the yearling cattle are benefiting from some compensatory growth off grass. No doubt trade will have eased in a couple of weeks when our stock and everyone elses is ready.
We have tried some surface seeding straight after taking the silage. Pasture was spring harrowed twice, then some AberExcel & Merviot red clover sown followed by three bags an acre of 5.24.24 and a good rolling. The result was encouraging when demonstrated by IGER at the Kemira Grassland event. Its a cost-effective method for improving my permanent pasture, without taking fields out of short term production. *