Best value ranking Pretin now available
PRETIN, ranked highly by ADAS in its list of best value UK bulls, is now available from Dairy Daughters, along with stablemate Ricecrest Lance.
Pretin (daughter pictured) offers a PLI of £118, with 882kg milk, 33kg fat and 29kg protein. He is said to be an easy calving bull and is by Ronybrook Prelude, out of Carlin Ivanhoe Bell. Straws cost £12.
By Heinz Libery out of Ricecrest Southwind Amy, Ricecrest Lance has a PLI of £85 with 1264kg milk, 13kg fat and 28kg protein and scores more than +2 for type merit. Semen costs £15 a straw (01756-748466).
Sire growth higher
HIGH growth rates and good confirmation are promised from the Midas terminal sire, marketed by Porcofram.
A progression of Porcoframs Alba line, trials show the Midas grows more than 10% faster than other main line terminal sires. It gains 1025g a day between 35kg and 100kg, with an average feed conversion of 1.95 and backfat of 8.6mm, says the company. Midas is recommended for use on indoor F1 hybrids and is also available through AI.
A Midas boar auctioned at the Pig and Poultry Fair made £950, with proceeds going to the British Pig Industry Support Group (01449-722700, fax 01449-722026).
Bulk tank link-up
A DIRECT link from Fabdecs bulk tank management system to the farm computer is now fitted as standard on all new Dari-Kool tanks with Milk Managers.
Milk Manager, which records data connected with cooling and washing bulk tanks – such as water temperature, washing time, chemical dosage and milk temperature – enables producers to keep track of milk quality, says the firm.
Previously producers had to change wash programmes or access data via a laptop in the parlour. The link to the farm PC means this can be done from the office. Tanks cost from £10,000. (01691-622811).
Low protein keeps pig pollution down
REDUCE nitrogen excretion by 40% and maintain pig performance by feeding low protein diets, says Forum.
A new free booklet – Pigs, Pollutions and Solutions – gives advice on low protein diets and other aspects of controlling nitrogen pollution from pigs.
The booklet is particularly relevant to producers located in Nitrogen Vulnerable Zones (NVZs), says the company.
It adds that feeding lower protein diets will enable units in NVZs to reduce slurry volume, water consumption and comply with MAFFs maximum nitrogen loadings. Further benefits include improvements in animal health, welfare and staff working conditions, says Forum (01737-773711, fax 01737-770053).
Richard Thompson farms a
325ha (800-acre) mixed
arable and dairy unit near
Kings Lynn, Norfolk. The
200 dairy cows average
6500 litres on a simple, high
forage system. They are
allocated 40ha (100 acres)
of permanent pasture and
44ha (110 acres) of short
term leys and maize grown in
the arable rotation of wheat
HAVING had glorious weather for making big bale silage in April, our luck ran out for the main grass silage cut in May.
As the optimum time for cutting approached it started to rain. We then had rain showers every day for the next nine days.
There is nothing worse than trying to make silage in wet, catchy weather. We had the option of direct cutting grass to make wet, high D value silage, but decided to be patient and wait for dry weather.
Silage was eventually made in a couple of dry days, with the downside being the appearance of many seed heads by this time, reducing quality. I am glad we only had 50 acres of grass silage this year, as opposed to 120 acres on the old system.
Maize drilling has continued with mixed results. It has been a great benefit to be able to drill straight behind the plough after grass silage. But depth control and seed spacing on our cheap second-hand drill was poor.
We demonstrated a Stanhay Salvo drill and were so impressed that we exchanged our old one for a five-row ex-demo drill. This will be an extra capital cost. But with our maize acreage increasing from 85 acres to 110 acres next year, the drill will pay for itself in under five years. Bulling has been going well. Our vasectomised bull has done a great job, making it easier to pick up bulling cows. He has now been replaced by an intact Limousin bull which is being used as a sweeper.
Most of the cows will have had two AI services, before going to the Limousin bull. Using a bull helps us keep a tight spring calving block.
A 10-acre area of permanent grass has just been sprayed off with Round-up. It will be disced and drilled with a turnip/forage rape mix for grazing in August. We have been doing this for a number of years now. It supplies a fresh, green feed for cows in August and then leaves a good seed-bed for a grass reseed in September. This system results in our dairy grazing paddocks being reseeded every 10 years. *
John Martin farms with his
parents on the Ards Peninsula
south of Belfast. The 65ha
(160-acre) Gordonall Farm
and 16ha (40 acres) of
rented land carry 400
Suffolk x Cheviot ewes, a
small flock of Suffolks and
40 spring calving sucklers.
About 20ha (50 acres) of
barley is grown
IT has been encouraging to see discussions on the future of our industry identify enthusiastic young people as the foundation for profitable agriculture.
I have advocated this for many years, but the arrival of the newest member of our farm staff, Alexander, at 6lb 5oz, has concentrated my mind somewhat. Any plans now have another dimension, as he may wish to take over from me someday.
I am realistic enough to know that he may not want to accept the uncertainty Agenda 2020 may bring, and choose to do something completely different. Though for the moment, the only shiny machinery he needs is a four-wheel drive pram.
Turning to more mundane matters, our grazing is still under pressure and recent showers were welcome. We delayed taking our first cut of silage until the first days of June, because of slow growth rates after closing up in mid-April.
The 52 acres closed bulked up well and quite good quality material is now in the clamp. All the silage area then received sulphur-enriched fertiliser, which we have found beneficial in the past. It will be good to have some silage aftermath in a few weeks to provide clean grazing for weaned lambs.
We are now well through marketing early born lambs, with prices holding steady at about 240p/kg deadweight. Our average price for lambs sold this year is £51. That is not bad considering the number of hoggets that were left over from last year.
We are already thinking of our New Year lamb crop, as ewes must be treated with melatonin by mid-June to begin lambing on Jan 1.
Therein lies the question as to how much I will need to pay myself if I have to lamb sheep on New Years Eve?
Cattle have been settled despite no over-supply of grass, and continue to have magnesium lick available in liquid form. With only four stragglers left to calve, all offspring have been dehorned and tagging is up to date.
Our hopes of renewed beef exports to Holland have been short lived with minor difficulties in the computer system. But perhaps it is better to sort out any problems before our produce is bought by Dutch consumers. *
John Glover milks 65 Holstein
Friesian cows and rears
replacements on a 40ha
(100-acre) county council
holding near Lutterworth,
Leics, having moved from
another 20ha (51-acre) unit
HEIFERS, who would have them? This year we will cull more milking heifers than before.
Out of 25 heifers calving in the year, two have been culled and two more will be.
We sold two due to low yields – they only reached about 10 litres a day each. Another has a damaged teat end and gets mastitis regularly, but we have now stopped milking that quarter and we shall see how she gets on.
Three heifers would not let their milk down without an injection of oxytocin, two we persevered with for about 100 days before they let their milk down by themselves and they have produced 5779kg in 215 days and 5438kg in 202 days. But we stopped using oxytocin on the third and she has about dried herself off after 80 days in milk.
The other problem is heifers which do not get back in calf quickly. We usually have the odd one each year, but it is not too expensive, as they keep producing milk. One heifer produced 15,525kg in 565 days and is now 200 days into her third lactation with a lifetime yield of 36,000kg. Another produced 21,979kg in 743 days, but was sold, as we could not get her in calf and one yielded 14,764kg in 510 days and is still giving 31kg a day and running with the bull.
The next fly in the ointment is our calving pattern. This has not caused concern because we do not depend on seasonal grazing and receive a flat rate for milk with no seasonality adjustments.
But from next April we will have seasonality payments of -3p/litre in both April and May, -1p in June, +3p in September and October, and +1p in November. That will cost about £900 on the current years production profile.
As we are moving towards a flying herd, 10 heifers will be bought this September, preferably calved. Then this years heifers which should calve next February will not be served until September to calve in June and July. That should help adjust our milk sales.
As a flying herd, it should be possible to buy animals with a proven history and to change calving pattern more easily to match milk buyers requirements. *
Kevin Daniel has a mixed
lowland holding near
Launceston, Cornwall. The
65ha (160 acres) farm and
20ha (50 acres) of rented
ground supports 70
Simmental cross suckler
cows, 380 Border Leicester
cross Suffolk ewes and has
28ha (70 acres) of arable
WE mowed 75 acres of first cut silage on May 25, in glorious weather.
Grass was chopped and clamped over the next two days, with the last load arriving at the clamp just before a thunderstorm deposited 15mm of rain on us.
I would like to say that this was due to impeccable planning, but I suspect luck had something to do with it. The next morning saw the fertiliser spreader applying 375kg/ha of 25-0-13-7S (sulphur) to 30 acres of silage aftermath destined for second cut and 250kg/ha to fields returning to grazing. Warm, thundery conditions since have favoured a rapid regrowth and a second cut looks likely around July 10.
As always May has been a busy month in routine stock tasks. Lambs have received their first dose of clostridial vaccine along with an ivermectin-based wormer. Coccidiosis has again been a problem, but Vecoxan the new anti-coccidial drench has proved effective, with a single dose at four to six weeks of age enough for most lambs. Only one flock which has grazed a field with a known history of coccidiosis needed a second dose.
On the cattle side we are still waiting for one cow to calve. She has slipped outside our 12-week calving period, so will either be sold with calf at foot or culled at weaning in the autumn.
The main herd has been sorted into three groups, with three Simmental bulls joining them in mid-May. A new bull has joined the team this year, to replace an 11-year-old bull culled last autumn.
We have three criteria when choosing a new bull. First, I like to buy a new one privately from a breeder, where the bulls sire and dam can be seen. Second, it must move well and have good feet and legs. Third, Estimated Breeding Values must be high, especially in growth, muscle and fat traits.
The bull we chose is an 18-month-old named Sterling Hamilton. A Beef Value of 23 puts him in the breeds top 25%. Although his calving value is only average for the breed, the important traits are all in the top 10%. He should produce calves that are lean, fast growing and with good confirmation. *