14 April 2000

Layer feed helps environment too

LOOK after the environment and ensure cost-efficient production, by feeding environmentally friendly layers feed, says manufacturer AF Feeds.

Its AF Egglayer 1638 mash and AF Egglayer 3860 mash are said to give the correct balance of energy, methionine, and other amino acids at the lowest possible nitrogen content. This reduces nitrogen excretion, protecting the environment, and promotes efficient use of diet protein, according to AF.

Enzymes in the products are also said to ensure better use of diet phosphorous, again reducing excretion of this environmentally sensitive mineral.

Egglayer 1638 is for feeding to birds between 16 to 38 weeks old and Egglayer 3860 between 38 to 60-weeks-old. Feed costs from 1.3p-1.6p a bird a day (01772-799330, fax 01772-799334).

Peter Delbridge

Peter Delbridge farms 162ha

(400 acres) in the Exmoor

National Park, near South

Molton, Devon. The farm is

mostly permanent grass,

classed as less favoured and

environmentally sensitive,

and all above 300m

(1000ft). It is stocked with

800 ewes, replacement ewe

lambs, 60 spring calving

sucklers and their followers

ITS always nice to witness the arrival of the first living lamb of spring, however a few flakes of snow often accompany it and the novelty soon wears off.

This year was no exception. We have just had three days of continuous rain, sleet and snow all accompanied by a strong, biting north-east wind, which ended in a full-blown blizzard.

The dry warm weather of mid-March seems a distant memory. Indeed, most years we seem more likely to get snow in the first week of April than the first week of March.

Being weather dependent, lambing is much harder work in rough weather, and this year is no exception. Ewes and lambs have stayed in for longer and sheds were full to bursting point.

Swaledales, which normally lamb outside, have been coming in from our most sheltered field to an uncovered concrete yard at night.

New-born lambs also come in before they get chilled, which can happen in a matter of minutes in a strong wind. Its times like these that you appreciate quad bikes, sheltered valleys, rough pasture and sheep housing.

We seem to be having a fair number of troublets – or triplets – from Mule ewes, which we split and foster to a single bearing ewe. This means we end up with some peculiar multi-racial sets of twins. In contrast, the Swales are having more large singles than usual.

Ewes and lambs are grazing leys that will be mown and have received 125kg/ha of urea (1cwt/acre). I prefer urea because it works at lower temperatures, is less likely to leach and is cheaper than ammonium nitrate.

However, it is slower to act and requires earlier application. This year, with short supplies, our delivery arrived late, so it was two weeks late being applied. At least it arrived, unlike some farmers who have not received anything at all. Ive made a note to order early next autumn.

Being so busy I only caught the outline of the rescue package announced at the end of March.

Not wishing to seem ungrateful, but with the continued strength of sterling and the buying power of the supermarkets, this package is about as much use as sending Pete Goss a tube of superglue. &#42

Snowbound… as usual new-born spring lambs bring a flurry of bad weather. The novelty of lambing soon wears off, says Peter Delbridge.