Farmer Focus Livestock: Victor Chestnutt sees the benefits from good silage

Writing this on St Patrick’s Day, one of those days when we all take notice of the weather, as tradition has it that St Patrick has the power to turn the warm side of the stone up. It hasn’t been the warmest of days, but at least it has been dry and if this is the omen for a drier year it will certainly please us farmers.

When I was growing up St. Patrick’s Day was always seen to be the optimum time to sow spring cereals. But in theplast decade this seems to have slipped by at least a month.

Cull ewe prices along with hogget prices are pleasing, our last five average cull ewes returning £85 each. Let’s hope these positive prices can hold throughout the year when the new-season lambs come into full flow.

Lowland sheep numbers in this area have taken a drastic fall and I fear those that have exited the industry are lost for good. On the beef front prices in NI. seem to be stuck at about £2.64/kg R3. It’s hard to understand the variations in price between beef and lamb at different times of the year going from being equal to a massive £1.30/kg difference.

We are settling into the dairying routine and finding the heifers quite easy to manage compared with the suckler cows. They seem to be more efficient; you can see the immediate effects of diet change as we moved on to first-cut silage, which had been cut during good conditions last year. Analysis showed it had an ME of 11.8 with a D-value of 74 and a silage intake of 115. This was borne out immediately with a rise in milk. Increasing attention will have to be given to silage making to keep this up.

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