Monthly ‘must do’s’: April 2012

1) Apply for a Rural Economy Grant (REG)

Producers have until 30 April to apply for a Rural Economy Grant. REG Animal Health and Welfare funding is aimed at providing facilities/technologies that are designed over and above standard industry practices.

The funding is focused on large-scale projects shown to be part of a holistic farm plan to raise AHW and be dependent on grant funding to implement best practice.

• Grant support is up to a maximum of 40% of eligible costs, with a few exceptions (find out more online)

• To apply there must be a minimum grant requirement of £25,000 – this equates to minimum eligible expenditure of £62,500 where the 40% rate applies (or £125,000 where 20% applies)

>> Find out more online or contact your local RDPE delivery team.

2) Pig movement licence change

To be legal, all pig movements must be reported through the electronic pig movement system, eAML2, from 1 April 2012, comments Dorothea Schiemann from BPEX.

“It is compulsory for all pig keepers in England and Wales – they can set up movements either by going online or by contacting the eAML2 Bureau Service.”

To register for eAML2 go online and click on ‘Producer registration’ or call the eAML2 bureau service on 0844 335 8400 or fax 02476 692 405.

3) Dairy budgets

Is April your financial year-end? Don’t forget to do a budget and cashflow for the new financial year, says Rachael Chamberlayne, DairyCo extension officer.

“These aren’t just for the bank – they should be integral to the management of the business throughout the year. Now is also the time to contact your regional officer to arrange a time to get together and complete your year-end Milkbench+ data collection.”

4) Marketing breeding sheep

Pedigree sheep breeders should make the most of new technologies to improve their marketing and develop relationships with their customers, says EBLEX’s Samuel Boon.

“Given the increased level of interest in EBVs, tools such as smartphones, email and the internet shouldn’t be overlooked when planning marketing activity.”

A new guide, Marketing Breeding Sheep for Better Returns, is available by contacting the EBLEX Better Returns Programme on 0870 241 8829 or by emailing

5) Monitor grass growth

Measure sward heights every two weeks to understand whether grass growth is matching demand, advises EBLEX’s Liz Genever.

“For ewes and lambs the target sward height is 4cm (1,500kg DM/ha) for set stocking systems.

“Animal performance will suffer if sward height is below target. If sward height is above target, grass quality will fall.”

For a free EBLEX BRP sward stick, email or call 0870 241 8829.

6) Heifers at grass

Ensure heifer growth rates of 0.7-0.8kg/day are maintained at turnout by making a plan to provide top-quality rotational grazing or the strategic use of concentrates, says Chris Coxon, DairyCo extension officer.

“Assessments through weighing and withers height measurements will help keep growth on track throughout the season – the DairyCo Feeding+ publication provides more information on rationing for heifers.”

7) Reduce pig worm burden

Now is the time to review management to minimise worms, says Angela Cliff, BPEX knowledge transfer manager.

“Large roundworms (Ascaris suum) cause milk spot liver and are the most prevalent of worms affecting pig productivity.

“Worm burden can result in a loss of up to 10% in daily gain and 13% in feed conversion in growing/finishing pigs, increasing cost of production by 11p/kg DW.”

2TS Action for Productivity factsheet number one provides management guidelines on how to reduce worm burden and improve pig growth. Download from the BPEX site.

8) Controlling BVD

The key to controlling BVD is the removal of persistently-infected animals (PIs), which can appear perfectly healthy but spread the disease to herd mates, says Mary Vickers of EBLEX.

“Tag-and-test technology offers farmers an easy way of identifying PIs when they tag calves soon after birth,” says Dr Vickers.

“A pre-labelled tissue sample is collected as the tag is inserted. The farmer then just needs to send this off for analysis.”

9) Reduce soil damage by pigs

Outdoor pig producers need to regularly assess the risk of soil erosion and damage to the land that pigs occupy and find suitable ways to prevent and record this, says Anna Davis, BPEX environment project manager.

“The updated BPEX Soil Management Plan can help – it is a working document for farmers to use before moving on to a new site, during occupancy and, finally, on vacation of the site. It helps demonstrate diligence to landlords, regulators and inspectors.”

The plan is available online.

10) Staff benefits statement

An annual benefits statement for staff is a good way to put a clear value on pig unit employment packages, says Tess Howe, BPEX skills development manager.

“The statement can also help in negotiations when there is no more room for salary movements. It recognises the full value of staff benefits, often including more than just pay. The statement can include: housing, overtime, health care, pension, flexible working hours, perhaps even pork from the farm.”

Contact Tess Howe on 07779 321078 for more information.

See our previous Monthly Must Do’s.


See more