26 June 1998

Versatile ways to dispense pig feed

GIVE pigs dry feed in both slow and phased systems with the same Skiold Transpork Volume Dispensers, says UK distributor Danagri-3S.

The dispensers are available in five sizes from four to 12 litres and are manufactured from tough, durable, transparent plastic in two sections for easy cleaning, it adds.

They are designed to be adjustable externally and feed can be released automatically or manually. An asymmetrical base stops feed accumulating in the base and allows mounting in double rows.

Prices for the volume dispensers start from £28 (01746-762777, fax 01746-764777).

Draught of salts a power of good…

REPLACE salts in dehydrated livestock using the liquid product, Elektrolite which remains more stable than some powdered types of electrolytes, according to Osmonds.

It says Elektrolite will provide instant rehydration and energy to all livestock species in a highly palatable form, helping animals suffering from heat or cold exhaustion, scouring, illness, and after operations. It is also said to help animals recover after transport in hot and humid weather.

Osmonds recomends that animals are dosed with 20ml of Elektrolite concentrate/litre of water for all situations.

A 250ml bottle costs £4.90, 500ml is £7.90 and 1 litre is £11.90 (01482-665781, fax 01482-665782).

Turkey nests for egg efficiency

REDUCE the labour required to collect turkey eggs by up to half and reduce cracks and losses using Vencomatic turkey nests, says Sterling Equipment.

The nest has a hinged floor which activates a trap when a hen walks on it, closing behind the bird and preventing others entering at the same time, it explains. Eggs roll back on to a covered belt for collection, without needing to tip hens off nests, it adds.

It also features rear opening to allow cleaning and optional extras include egg collecting cross-conveyors and a timer operated tilting mechanism to prevent broodiness.

The Vencomatic system costs from £12.50 a bird (01765-605999).

FARMERFOCUS

Peter Wastenage

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

CUTTING grass in June on this farm is almost unheard of, but persistent showers have increased grass growth beyond demand.

About 20 acres of paddocks have been dropped out of the rotation and cut, but this still leaves us with quite a high cover as I do not anticipate wet conditions staying at this time of year.

The kale which was drilled has grown away well, apart from some pigeon damage. The turnips, on the other hand, look dreadful. These were broadcast and rolled onto a damp seedbed which then went very dry. The deepest seed germinated and grew straight away, but more than half is only just starting to come through. Some flea beetle has started on it and there are creeping thistles good enough to win a prize. The field faces the road and has a footpath at the bottom, so everybody can enjoy the sight.

A reduced rate of atrazine and bromotril has been applied to the maize which seems to have killed most of the weeds. We will have to see if any more nightshade appears and if we need a follow up spray.

After mentioning the high price of quota last month, I was interested to see the national milk production level for May had fallen below quota for the first time for several years. The predictions I saw suggested it should be well over, with the swing in national calving pattern away from summer calving. The cold, wet first half of the year has obviously had quite an effect on milk production. But we have a long way to go yet.

Finally on a personal note I would like to announce my engagement to Diana, a relationship which stretches back to Seale-Hayne. Hopefully we will be able to share everything – especially the paperwork. This may even possibly lead to a reduction in our labour cost, but I am reliably informed by some "old hands" that it will be the dearest labour unit on the farm. &#42

Dennis Bridgeford

Dennis Bridgeford farms 50ha

(125 acres) at Petley Farm in

Easter Ross, about 40 miles

north of Inverness. The farm

comprises of 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,

with progeny sold at 7kg. The

land not used for pigs grows

spring barley for use in the

farms mill-and-mix plant

THERE is nothing like hitting the pig industry when its down. With the general weakness in the industry and the large scale processors in the south imposing a rendering charge along with a notice to break their contract, things are not looking too bright in the pig trade.

Regarding the rendering charge, I do not recollect them paying producers when the by-product had a high value. All the charges should be calculated in the price – we will be asked to pay for polythene bags and the envelope to send out the cheques in next.

On a lighter note our annual farmers trip took us to Fife. Over the years we have had some first class trips and have come back with either forward thinking ideas or a reminder that you learn nothing at home.

We could not have had three better businesses to look at. The first was a dairy farmer who has decided to give up milking and start to cross his dairy cows with an Angus bull. It seems rather ironic that dairying is going out of fashion so quickly in our area you are almost knocked over in the rush to sell cows.

The next visit took us to a farmer who had diversified into a shooting and sporting school, with good facilities for entertaining corporate customers – a growth area.

The final stop was to a large vegetable processing plant. You could not fail to be impressed at the speed they were processing carrots. The attention to detail was staggering, with the aim to produce as high a quality item as efficiently as possible. This they appear to achieve.

I find after being away on these kinds of trips you come back full of zest. I am sure the staff do not share my enthusiasm but it is good to see how another side of the industry works.

On the home front, the spring sown cereals are under a fair bit of stress with yellow patches showing in some parts of the fields. The winter sown crops in the area are on the whole looking very well, with some good crops of wheat.

Despite the weather, we are still carting out large volumes of water to the outdoor sows. It is a bit early for summer repeats but the sows are looking well. The change of dry sow paddocks has definitely helped but the new grass is taking quite a hammering.

The problem of indoor sows drying up and the subsequent extra crushing has given us a lot of headaches, but we might have discovered the cause. It is noticeable that the farrowing rooms that did not get dry disinfectant have not had the same level of problems, so we have discontinued for a period and will concentrate on quality washing to see if this eliminates the problem. &#42

John Alpe

John Alpe farms in

partnership with his parents

at New Laund Farm at

Whitewell near Clitheroe in

Lancashire. Besides the

tenanted 80ha (200 acres)

at New Laund Farm, the

family own a neighbouring

farm of 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

I DO not need much encouragement to take a day off at this time of year, so I took full advantage of the North Sheep 98 event.

It was held fairly locally at Low Foulshaw Farm, Levens, near Kendal, and proved to be a very enjoyable day; an excellent show staged at an equally excellent venue.

Societies representing all the main breeds of sheep were present, collectively making an impressive display. Also there were many of the northern auction marts offering welcome hospitality. farmers weekly had a display, and in view of the current climate were generously giving away free copies of the weeks issue.

A good amount of trade stands proved to be very interesting, promoting and displaying the type of equipment we either already use or need, which was all the better for being relevant to our circumstances. Sometimes at the national shows, the large machinery section goes straight over my head. I find it easier to relate to a Fordson Dexter and transport box than a 200hp plus tractor and massive forager.

A rather good grass growth is the result of some prolonged warm, damp weather. As yet it has not interfered with our harvesting plans. We have now started to shear, we begin with the small lots – rams, geld hogs and ewes. While shearing the geld mule gimmer hogs, a mule wether surprisingly turned up in the group. Remarkably, this sheep has had three doses of Heptavac P, been dipped several times, been tailed out prior to tupping season, wintered on some good grazing on the Fylde, and had supplementary concentrate before scanning

Basically, it has been treated like all the other mule gimmers and had every chance to become in lamb, with the exception of the inability of its owners to realise it was the wrong sex! But to complete its life story, we sold it (still with only milk teeth) in early June for £42.50.

In retrospect, hog values should have been at their peak in March, at best being worth £30; how quickly things change. The first of this seasons lambs, now 12 weeks old have been sold, averaging £50 each, compared with last year this is somewhat improved. Along with reading that ewe premium is set to rise by about £5 a head I cant help feeling the agricultural gloom has lifted a little. &#42

Gerald Murphy

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 forage

maize and cereals for home

consumption

WE have more or less made up for the area shortfall in our first cut silage at this stage. We took six acres of grazing area out for late silage in the week after first cut and we are taking out a further 3.5 acres now. Unless you happen to be cutting silage at a time when a surplus appears this is the simplest way of dealing with it.

Our milk yields are starting to drop off at this stage with a lot of cows getting into the latter stages of their lactations. We are still supplementing at the same rate – 8kg Brewers grains and 8kg beet pulp.

We should probably be splitting the cows but if you were to leave the first calved late lactation heifers who need the extra feeding to restore body condition, the group not being supplemented would be too small to be workably worth the effort.

We are also releasing the beef bull with the maiden heifers. We have been AIing them for the past six weeks and conception to first service seems to have been around 70-75% based on the number of repeats. Hopefully the stock bull will have a very quiet time for the next few weeks.

Our arable silage re-seeds are doing well but they need a fungicide spray, mainly for mildew. We did this the last time we grew this crop and got well paid for it so we will do it again this time.

Our maize also needs a second spray for weeds, it got a further 2.5 litres/ha of atrazine and one block got a trace element spray of a product which seems to be mainly made of seaweed. We decided to give it a try based mostly on the salesmans figures – £70 for five acres is a relatively small amount when it is put alongside all of the other costs involved in maize. &#42

Persistent showers mean grass growth at Peter Wastenages is well beyond demand, so some has been cut – which is almost unheard of in June.

Prospects are not looking too bright for pigs, says Dennis Bridgeford.

John Alpe has been gathering sheep for shearing, and better prices coupled with increased ewe premium

is welcome news.

Milk yields are starting to drop, with most cows now in late lactation according to Gerald Murphy.