Monthly ‘must do’s’: May 2012

1) Keep pig units weed-free

Pig producers should invest in a knapsack sprayer and get on top of weed growth around pig buildings, says Lis Ravn, BPEX knowledge transfer manager.

“This should help keep the site tidy throughout the summer and also help control vermin and disease, with fewer places for animals to hide in around the buildings.”

Producers should check the legislative requirements for the safe use of pesticides and knapsack spraying as they may need to send a member of staff on a training course.

2) Grazing wet ground

In light of the recent wet weather, DairyCo extension officer Jo Speed has a few tips about turning cows out during wet periods or onto wet land:

  • Check to see if the whole field is actually wet or if it’s just your perception. Take a walk across the fields and check under foot conditions

  • Open up the side of the cow track so there are multiple exit points and the cows fan out into the field rather than all leaving and entering at the same point

  • Graze cows for a short period and then bring off the pasture

  • If offering buffer feed ensure it is given after grazing so that the cows always go out to grass with an appetite.

3) Choose grass varieties from the RGCL

Livestock farmers who want to make an informed choice on grass variety are strongly advised to consult the Recommended Grass and Clover Lists (RGCL), according to EBLEX’s Liz Genever.

“The varieties that make the final list have gone through rigorous testing,” she says.

“This ensures those featured really are the best of the best, and offer benefits in terms of yield, persistency, quality and disease resistance.”

You can download the 2012 RGCL from theEBLEX website.

4) Worm lambs effectively

The most effective approach to worming lambs, with minimal use of anthelmintics, involves three steps, says Liz Genever of EBLEX:

  • Know which parasites threaten your lambs as they may require different approaches.

  • Use regional information and risk assessments from the National Animal Disease Information Service (NADIS) website

  • Use Faecal Egg Counts (FECs) to monitor the number of worms present and help decide whether a drench is needed.”

For more information download the manual Target Worm Control for Better Returns, or visit

5) Get silage DM content right

Grass silage dry matter (DM) content has effects on silage intake by stock, the extent of fermentation, silage density and the effluent produced, according to EBLEX’s Mary Vickers.

“Aim for a DM content of 30% for clamp and 35-45% for big bale silage. Spread the crop quickly after cutting over a wide area, allowing a maximum wilt of 48 hours.”

More information can be found in the EBLEX manual Making Grass Silage for Better Returns.

6) Simple finishing rules

Charlotte West, BPEX knowledge transfer manager offers some simple rules to help improve pig finishing herd productivity:

  • Ensure the temperature of finisher accommodation is optimum and draughts are minimised

  • Check there is plentiful clean water and enough drinkers, as this will make a big difference to feed intake

  • Guarantee the piglet is prepared from early on, including creep feeding from 10 days of age.

 Contact the BPEX knowledge transfer team to take part in the 2TS Finisher Challenge: 0247 647 8792 or

7) Preparing for silage making

DairyCo extension officer Chris Duller outlines some important steps to take when getting ready to make silage:

  • Make sure you’re all set to go with silage to take advantage of any weather window

  • Is your clamp is clean and ready, the effluent drains clear, the additive bought and the contractor briefed?

  • Walk your fields and assess how clean they are in the base – make a risk list for possible slurry contamination and dead material in the base -take a pre-cut silage test to look at d-values, sugars and nitrates levels

  • Target any risky fields for a longer wilt – maybe even leave them out of the main cut and take them as bales a week or so later

  • If you are not already a sulphur user don’t forget to include a sulphur test with your pre-cut analysis to identify any possible deficiency for second cut.

8) Saving water

Both drought and flooding can cause water shortage and lead to higher costs for the water used, warns Anna Davis, BPEX environment project manager.

“There are plenty of things pig producers can do to save water: First steps include checking for leaks, pipework maintenance and checking pig drinkers are correctly positioned to limit waste. Longer-term solutions include rainwater harvesting.”

Download a copy of 2TS KT Bulletin 20 – Water usage: Tips on Saving a Precious Resource from here or call 024 7647 8792.

Read more


See more