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Kevin Daniel

11 June 1999

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

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. &#42

John Martin

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. &#42

John Glover

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. &#42

Kevin Daniel

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. &#42

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Kevin Daniel

15 May 1998

Kevin Daniel

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 28ha

(70 acres) arable

A PRIL is a month that is best forgotten with rain on virtually every day, making cattle turnout impossible on our farm.

With straw running out in the second week and silage in the third week, the last 14 days of this month have proved to be expensive. It seems all that was needed to stop it raining was to turn the calendar over into May, which changed the weather overnight.

The ground has dried remarkably quickly, allowing us to get all the cattle turned out by May 4. This is always a highlight of the year as it marks the end of winter and the routine chores of feeding, scraping and bedding. It is an absolute joy to see the cows and calves gallop across the fields with even the oldest cows kicking their heels in delight.

Field work during April was also a non-starter with work falling seriously behind schedule, especially spraying winter cereals, resulting in our crop consultant having to rewrite spray recommendations three times. Two fields of winter barley had awns emerging before the first and now the only, fungicide was applied. Whether yield will be affected remains to be seen.

Last year the fashion in the lambing shed was jeans and T-shirts, this year thermals and waterproofs made a comeback in a big way. The weather has undoubtedly taken its toll in lambing percentage, as there has been a higher mortality post turnout than normal, although the ewes have milked well at grass, lambs have had to use a bigger proportion of that milk supply to maintain body temperature and therefore struggled to maintain growth rates. Hopefully, with better weather and the abundance of grass we now have, they will regain some of the lost ground.

The late April ritual of IACS form filling was delayed this year until May while we acquired some extra grass keep. With July being the earliest possible date we could sell store cattle because of TB restrictions, 43 acres have been purchased locally with grazing for cattle until the end of October and sheep thereafter until the end of the year, with the option to cut once if so desired. All this land has gone on the IACS form as forage and will bring the stocking rate to 2LSU/ha. Cash-flow forecast has been seriously disrupted by lack of income from store cattle and the extra expenditure for grass keep. A meeting with the bank manager is now planned for June.

Thoughts are now turning to silage making with 40 acres ready to cut at any time, while 43 acres of the rented grass keep will be cut in June at a mature stage, to provide plenty of bulk for the cows during the winter and to avoid another shortage.

With better weather and more grass, lambs will regain some of the ground lost during recent poor weather, hopes Kevin Daniel.

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Kevin Daniel

20 March 1998

Kevin Daniel

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 28ha

(70 acres) arable.

WITH only a week to go before lambing commences we are busy cleaning, assembling and disinfecting 45 individual pens for ewes after they have lambed. It always amazes me every year that at the end of lambing we have a water bucket for every pen, but at the start of the next season several have disappeared – bucket manufacturers must make them self-destruct during the summer months to boost sales in the spring.

The ewes in the eight-week run-up to lambing have received two doses of Heptavac P four weeks apart, along with two iodine drenches. The unshorn ewes have been crutched and all the ewes have run through a foot bath containing a 10% zinc sulphate solution every 7-10 days.

Ewes have held condition extremely well indicating that nutrition has been adequate. Feeding has consisted of ad-lib silage with a purchased ewe nut.

Feed rates have been determined by litter size, and have been stepped up gradually starting six weeks before lambing. Singles are now receiving 0.4kg/day, doubles 0.8kg and trebles 1.1kg. Protein content of the compound was increased from 18% to 20% three weeks before lambing in a bid to encourage colostrum production.

Extra vitamin E has been introduced this year after trial results seem to suggest more vigorous lambs at birth. Deccox has also been added to reduce the spread of coccidiosis by the ewes onto the pasture after lambing.

The compound has been fed using an extremely hi-tech method known as the "bucket and chuck it" system. This involves standing outside the pen and throwing in buckets full of feed and the ewes spend the next hour foraging through the straw. It is a simple system that dispenses with all the pushing, shoving and stress, for both shepherd and ewes, normally associated with trough feeding.

Sceptics who are horrified at the thought of throwing expensive feed onto the floor should take comfort that anyone who has taken up my challenge of a £10 reward for a sheep nut found in the straw after feeding has gone away unrewarded.

With mild weather and perfect ground conditions, I was tempted to spread fertiliser on Feb 24, the earliest start ever at Trebursye; 150kg of 20.8.12 compound an acre was applied to first-cut silage fields. I stopped short of applying fertiliser to grazing ground which is all permanent pasture, much of it north facing, believing it to be still too early – a drop in the temperature and 7.5cm of rain in the first week of March has upheld my decision. &#42

Besides ad-lib silage, Kevin Daniels pregnant ewes are on the high-tech "bucket and chuck it" feeding system which appears to be working well.

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Kevin Daniel

20 February 1998

Kevin Daniel

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 28ha

(70 acres) arable.

The effects of the extremely wet autumn (November rainfall 11 in) have been highlighted by the drop in lambing percentage when the flock was scanned at the end of January.

Ewes are carrying 194%, a reduction of 5% on last year. Ewe lambs only scanned at a disappointing 110% with 16 out of the 80 hoggs proving to be empty. Scanning has also revealed a wide range of lambing dates, which will give an extended lambing instead of the usual fast and furious three weeks.

With the potential for less lambs and a need to increase output to maintain margins, rearing the maximum lambs possible will be more essential than ever before. Post natal losses at Trebusye are usually around 15%, most occurring in the first 48 hours, and it is in this area we must improve.

Small lambs and a lack of colostrum are the main reasons, suggesting inadequate feeding but blood profiles consistently show normal levels of energy and protein. Discussing this problem with two or three winter shearing enthusiasts during the autumn has convinced me that shearing ewes at housing can lead to bigger lambs and more milk. So as an experiment we have shorn half of the ewes and these are now housed alongside the unshorn ewes. They will receive exactly the same rations so that we will have a direct comparison at lambing time of the benefits of winter shearing.

Calving should be under way as you read this article. Preparations started in mid-December when all cows and heifers received a routine potassium iodide drench to counteract iodine deficiency on the farm.

January 14 saw them in the crush again to receive a second iodine drench and two Agrimin all trace boluses to correct a copper and cobalt shortage. The Rotavec vaccine was administered at the same time to protect the calf against rotavirus and E coli scours. Cost of this days work was £1113 (£15.90/cow) or about two-thirds of the total annual spent on Vet & Med for the cows. The need to cut inputs to the suckler cows in these difficult times is obvious, but I feel to neglect routine vaccines and trace elements would be suicidal. &#42

Calving should now be under-way – with routine vaccinations completed.

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Kevin Daniel

3 October 1997

Kevin Daniel

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

28ha (70 acres) arable.

OUR first ever nine acres of kale was eventually cut on Sept 8, two to three weeks later than was ideal due to the wet weather at the end of August. In places, the crop had lodged due to the exceptional growing conditions and delayed cutting. However, after a 48-hour wilt, neighbours Danny and Adrian Gregory moved in to bale and wrap 152 bales of well wilted kaleage.

An additive was applied during baling, with the bales removed from the field before wrapping. Six layers of wrap were applied but stalks still managed to push through, probably due to the crop being over-mature. The offending stalks have been cut off and a patch applied.

Bale weights averaged between 800 and 900kg and in spite of initial concerns, our 70hp two-wheel-drive tractor and loader handled the bales with relative ease. Bales were lifted by spike on to the wrapper which tipped the bale off into the storage site, removing the need for further handling. We await a forage analysis result with interest.

An enjoyable morning last month was spent showing 40 Welsh farmers from the Lampeter Agricultural Discussion Group round the farm, ably led by Margaret Dalton whose farm is one of the five featured in the Business section.

A tour on tractors and trailers was going well until we arrived in a field of store lambs, only to find one lamb lying motionless in the middle of the field – an embarrassing situation but proves that the old saying "where there is livestock there is deadstock" also applies to Farmer Focus writers!

A post-mortem confirmed that Pasteurella was the cause of death which was disappointing as the lambs had already received a dose of Ovivac P in May and June. A further dose was administered, although the stress of handling resulted in two more fatalities. Pasteurella is a recurring problem at Trebursye, so I hope that the new improved range of vaccines will give a longer and wider range of cover. &#42

Kaleage is making its debut at Trebursye, with Kevin Daniel awaiting its analysis with interest. And hes surprised that the 70hp two wheel drive tractor and loader copes so well with the 800-900kg wrapped bales.

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Kevin Daniel

5 September 1997

Kevin Daniel

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 28ha (70 acres) arable.

DULL, humid weather during August has been frustrating for the cereal harvest but ideal for grass growth.

I cannot remember so much grass at Trebursye at this time of year, in contrast to the past two years, when straw and maize gluten were already being fed to cattle.

Creep feeding for the calves started at the end of August, with a home-mix ration of 70% barley, 14% soya, 12% sugar beet shreds and 4% molasses. This is offered to calves in five place creep feeders, and hoppers are kept full to provide ad lib feeding. But with the abundance of grass, and cows still milking well, uptake has been slow.

To shear or not to shear the lambs, is always the question at this time of year. Advantages with shearing are faster growth rates and cleaner lambs, especially when feeding turnips in the autumn. Disadvantages are a £3 deduction a shorn lamb at the abattoir and the cost of shearing at 60p, although this is offset by the wool value of about £1 a fleece.

So at weaning in mid-August all lambs were carefully weighed and handled. This resulted in 120 lambs in the 35-40kg weight range being left unshorn, 350 lambs below 35kg and 80 replacement ewe lambs were shorn. At the same time 43 lambs were selected for slaughter and sent to our local abattoir, HR Jasper & Sons, where they averaged 19kg dead weight, 42 graded EUR 2/3L, with one fatty letting the side down at U4L. They returned £45 a head, or 236p/kg, 16p/kg up on last year – hooray!

With several older rams culled last autumn and one Suffolk shearling drawing his last breath in the spring, we needed to buy seven rams to keep the ram-to-ewe ratio at 1:30. Three Lleyns and two Suffolk rams were duly bought from local breeders, chosen on estimated breeding values and scanning results, with eye appeal having the last say.

Two Texel rams were added after a trip to the NSA Exeter sale. They will be making their debut at Trebursye this autumn with the aim of producing a lamb of good conformation that can be taken on into the autumn/winter without becoming over-fat. Also with increasing Lleyn blood in the flock, we felt a Texel would complement the Lleyn better than a Suffolk.

All rams were wormed and vaccinated with Heptavac P on arrival home, and are now receiving 0.5kg of concentrate a day to keep them fit until November. &#42

Kevin Daniel has bought more ram power for his flock. Three Lleyns, two Texels and two Suffolks were bought to keep the ram:ewe ratio at 1:30.

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Kevin Daniel

8 August 1997

Kevin Daniel

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 28ha (70 acres) arable.

FOUR cows were sent on the over-30-month scheme beating the Aug 4 deadline with a few days to spare. These cows were in fact not due to be slaughtered until the autumn after their calves had been weaned, but with a likely loss of income of £150 a head, their mothers were sent up the road and the calves have been given access to creep feed.

Seventy cows and heifers were scanned in mid-July, 10 weeks after the bulls were introduced. With the scanner able to detect a pregnancy from 30 days, 64 were confirmed pregnant, due to calve from mid-February to end of March. I am always very pleased to have cows confirmed in calf, as a tight calving pattern is essential to the management of the herd. The remaining six will be rescanned at a later date. While the cows and calves were in the yard, the calves all received two trace-element boluses and for the first time as an experiment, we used Autoworm Big 6 boluses. At first £8 a head for the worming bolus seems extravagant, but provided the calves are housed by Nov 1, they will not need a housing dose and regular worming for the rest of the summer should result in heavier calves at weaning. Calves have grown well with a range of weights from 180 to 260kg.

Lamb growth weight however has been disappointing, with only 12 lambs so far reaching slaughter weight. With a proportion of lambs having dirty tails, dung and blood samples were sent from a random selection for analysis. The result showed a high level of gut worms and coccidiosis and a shortage of copper in the blood. All lambs have now been dosed with Oramec wormer and bolused with a copper capsule. Mineral tubs containing Deccox have been placed around the pasture for the ewes and lambs to help control the coccidiosis infection.

The third week in July saw 20 acres of second cut silage clamped in blistering hot conditions, which resulted in about 100t of high dry matter silage to add to the 500t of first cut. The same week saw the first field of winter barley cut to yield a pleasing 2.8t of grain to the acre and 120 bales of straw. Hopefully, by the time this report is printed, the remaining 30 acres will have been harvested with stubbles ploughed and drilled with either stubble turnips or reseeded with an Italian/perennial ryegrass mixture. With plenty of lambs to finish this autumn, good crops will be need to avoid concentrate feeding. &#42

Seventy cows and heifers were scanned in mid July, 10 weeks after the bulls were introduced.

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