David Maughan

6 November 1998

David Maughan

David Maughan farms with

his brother, Peter, on two

farms totalling 272ha (425

acres) in Co.Durham on the

Raby Estate. The 40ha (100

acres) grass supports an

18-month and a silage beef

system. Cattle for the 18-

month system are reared

from purchased Continental

bull calves, with Continental

bull and heifer calves for the

silage beef system

OCTOBER has proved a frustrating month for those of us trying to sow autumn crops; we eventually drew things to a conclusion on Oct 25. By the sound of the forecast it looks as though we have been fortunate in finishing. Its certainly been a drawn out season this year.

In fact, we still have some fourth crop silage to complete at Denton, fortunately only one field, so it looks like being a November finish to this years silage season which is not what we would have chosen.

On the subject of silage, we now have this years analysis to hand with two pits here being almost identical in terms of D value and ME (see table). We opened the first cut pit in early October when we housed the outside cattle and they have rapidly achieved good intake levels (measured on the weigh gauge). Body condition has already started to improve so it seems we have good feeding material for winter, which is just as well given the current desperately low prices.

The focus of feed management will be on daily ration costs together with that rations effect on performance. With mineralised rolled barley to be costed in at £85/tonne and clamp silage at £15/t we would expect the ration cost/head to start the winter at 50p/day. Based on previous experience, we hope cattle to gain at around 1.4kg daily. To ensure this is achieved, we have usually included a small quantity of purchased roots in the ration to buffer silage acidity and consequently increase dry matter intake. With the first crop pit having a pH of 3.8 this would again seem a sensible strategy.

The first batch of calves are about to be weaned; they came in at good weights averaging 58kg and have proved to be a good rear with plenty of TLC from Lorna. The big question now is when to bring in the second batch. Due in by mid-November, they really shouldnt be much later if theyre to meet reasonable turnout weights by next spring. Hopefully we shall have a clearer idea of whether the calf slaughter scheme is to receive a years reprieve by then.

Unfortunately, we have recorded our lowest ever cattle sale values in real terms with the sale of a load of useful looking heifers that only averaged 150p/kg deadweight. It surely cant get worse, can it? &#42

What will happen with the calf slaughter scheme – will it be reprieved, wonders David Maughan.

1st Cut 2nd/3rd

Clamp Cut Clamp

Dry Matter 28.8 35.5

pH 3.8 4.1

Crude Protein 15.0 15.5

Ammonia 8.7 9.8

D Value 71.0 71.0

ME 11.5 11.4

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