Alan Montgomery

6 September 2002

Alan Montgomery

Alan Montgomery runs

a 300ha (750-acre) mixed

farm near Downpatrick, Co

Down, Northern Ireland.

As well as cereals and

potatoes, the farm supports

a 130-cow suckler herd,

950 breeding ewes and

1000 store lambs

FOLLOWING several weeks of relative inactivity, seasonal work dictates that the pace quickens.

Harvesting has made steady progress, however, I was annoyed at having to let our contractor move on after combining oats because wheat and spring barley were not quite ripe. A feature of current arable returns is the sizable proportion of income generated from straw sales.

The Ulster Farmers Union is assessing production losses due to the awful weather. Rainfall has been 150% of average, falling constantly rather than in heavy bursts as in central Europe. Were I a Brussels bureaucrat I would have little doubt about where to target financial aid.

Another of our aging silos has had its floor replaced and a side wall strengthened. Second cut silage was taken at the end of August. Zero grazing and poor growth in some areas mean this winters tonnage will be well below average.

A kind autumn would not go amiss. This would aid forage rape growth and reseeds sown after winter barley. Were it not for these following crops, winter barley yielding 5.6t/ha (2.25t/acre) would be dropped. New leys will allow us to put some long leys that have lost their vigour and have a high weed content into the arable rotation.

New rams are required each year and I have been active at the various breed sales. Scrapie genotyping is a dominant factor of late. Some breeders have chosen not to blood test while others have their rams results readily available. With no clear directives from our administration and many producers not fully understanding how this serious condition could devastate the UK sheep industry, urgent work is required.

Our newly purchased rams have been active already. Two batches of ewes have been sponged and received 650 and 500 units of PMSG to lamb post-Christmas and mid-January, respectively. A control batch of 20 in the second group received no PMSG to give me a rough guide as to its effect.

My right-hand man Marty is recovering from routine surgery. Several weeks of rest and recuperation are required. Ive had great difficultly in keeping him away from his work – a quality seldom found in this day and age. &#42

Despite recent surgery, Alan Montgomerys worker Marty is keen to be back out on the farm.

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