Louis Baugh and his wife
farm 186ha (460 acres) at
Neatishead Hall and 91ha
(225 acres) at Beech Farm
near Norwich in Norfolk.
About 100 autumn calving
Holstein Friesian cows and
followers are grazed on
Broads ESA marshes with
forage from Italian ryegrass
WE completed cereal harvest on Aug 19 and recommenced potato harvest on the same day, following the belated arrival of summer. Good quality barley straw has been baled avoiding any showers and is now stacked, destined for youngstock feeding.
Our Italian ryegrass silage analysis has returned at an average 30% DM, 11ME, and 12-15% crude protein, with normal to lactic acid fermentation. This was pleasing, considering the concerns we had in spring about lack of sunshine and potential low sugar content. Italian ryegrass silage will be fed to cows with maize silage, brewers grains, Probeet, soya and caustic wheat.
The projected feed cost/cow a day should be about 14% lower than last year. We hope this reduction in feed cost will improve further, if cows find the forage palatable.
Recently, we have had the two lowest monthly vet bills for years. This resulted in a semi-social visit from our vet to see if everything was OK. Strangely enough, this happened just when we were scrutinising our annual bill and making some comparisons. We are mid-way between three practices, all offering different methods of charging and service level.
The exercise was worthwhile. Our research showed our vet costs were in-line. At the following vet visit, it gave us the opportunity to have a chat, resulting in the decision to hold quarterly meetings, including a farm walk and discussion about the enterprise, with a written report.
Calving is proceeding apace, a long run of bull calves was thankfully replaced by heifer calves from some of our better cow families.
Fresh calvers are now straw yard housed and fed at night. As the marsh grazings have dried out, the stale milkers are being buffer fed silage.
Finally, a visit for a health and fitness check-up put me in the good category, so Frans plans for a cash injection into the business from an insurance company has been put on hold. *
A long run of bull calves, has been replaced by heifer calves from his best cow families, says Louis Baugh.
John Martin farms in
partnership with his parents
on the Ards Peninsula 15
miles south of Belfast. The
65ha (160-acre) Gordonall
Farm and 16ha (40 acres) of
rented land carry 400
Suffolk x Cheviot ewes, a
small flock of Suffolks and
40 spring calving sucklers.
About 20ha (50 acres) of
barley is grown for feed and
YET another month of this years rainy season has passed by and, as I write, more dark clouds are overhead.
However, we managed to complete harvesting our 30 acres of winter barley in early August. An average yield of 3t/acre was acceptable, but not exceptional, as was bushel weight. This quality assured grain will be sold as a cash crop, providing a welcome boost to income, despite prices being 18% down on last year.
Straw, on the other hand, is well up in value with no surplus left from last year and yields down. Big round bales are making £8-£10 and demand is high.
Little hay has been made this season, and there is talk of some being imported, by sea, from Canada. This is to satisfy the market among horse owners, but its unlikely livestock producers will be able or willing to pay the expected high price.
Winter barley provides a window to grow forage rape for sheep grazing in January and February. Some 16:16:16 fertiliser was broadcast onto 20 acres of barley stubble on Aug 7, followed by seed mixed with a little fertiliser. The area was then power harrowed to 2in deep to cover seed and a heavy roller completed the job. Germination is now complete and establishment is good.
The breathing space before spring barley has allowed us to do some farm maintenance, replacing 600m of fencing, moving water troughs and re-hanging gates.
Unfortunately, our lambs have suffered a growth check in the bad weather. Like many other producers we found them difficult to keep clean, despite regular trimming with shears and anthelmintic treatment. Wet grass seems to go straight through them, so we may feed a little rolled barley to get them growing again – another unexpected expense.
Early lambing ewes are settled and still on better grass for the month after mating. We bought 30 Suffolk x Cheviot yearling ewes locally, but they mostly originate in the Republic of Ireland. The price was well down with an average cost of £61, compared with £82 last year.
These ewes, along with 40 homebred ewe lambs, have been vaccinated against enzootic and toxoplasmic abortion, as well as being introduced to our clostridial vaccination programme. We had intended to shear older ewe lambs this year, however, the poor weather put paid to it.
Two Suffolk ram lambs were purchased recently. Both were farm recorded and well above average performance in their flocks. While we dont yet have a reference scheme across breeds, it is a possibility in the future and with estimated benefits of £600 from a high performance ram I would welcome this. *
A break before barley harvest has given John Martin time to attend to fences, water troughs and gates.
Kevin Daniel has a mixed
lowland holding near
Launceston, Cornwall. The
65ha (160 acres) farm and
20ha (50 acres) of rented
ground supports 70
Simmental cross suckler
cows, 380 Border Leicester
cross Suffolk ewes and 28ha
(70 acres) arable
SUMMER finally arrived during August and it proved to be an extremely hectic month.
I always look forward to cereal harvest as the efforts of 10 months crop husbandry are revealed field by field.
Unfortunately, yield and quality this year have been disappointing. Grain yields from both wheat and barley are down by 0.5-0.75t/acre.
The delayed harvest meant barley only produced 50 bales of straw an acre, which can only be described as chaff. Wheat straw, however, at 150 bales/acre has helped to redress the shortfall. With adequate silage already clamped, the need for large amounts of barley straw for feeding has diminished.
About 16 acres of barley stubble has been ploughed and drilled with stubble turnips for finishing lambs during November. The remaining 17 acres are due to be reseeded in early September.
Lambs were weaned during the third week of August. At the same time, we wormed the whole flock and gave a booster dose of pasturella vaccine, to prevent the reoccurence of last years outbreak of pasturella during September.
Since the completion of harvest, we have started to offer a home-mixed creep feed to calves – comprising of rolled barley, sugar beet shreds and molasses. Although there has been plenty of grass in front of cattle throughout the summer, its low dry matter content and lack of sunshine has left our calves smaller and lacking condition.
Hopefully, some dry feed and a kind autumn will improve the situation. With finished cattle prices slipping weekly since June, the prospect for these calves at the autumn sales is far from rosy.
With a huge shadow still cast over the beef industry, I have recently subscribed to the National Beef Association. This organisation has been set up to lobby Government and improve the plight of beef farmers. Although the NFU has lobbied hard on our behalf, an umbrella organisation which has to cover the whole farming sector at some stage has to compromise between commodities.
The injustice between beef and dairy cull cow compensation is one example. Sometimes you have to be extreme to get a moderate settlement, hopefully the NBA will achieve this.
Sept 16 sees an open evening here at Treburseye, on behalf of the NBA. There will be an opportunity to see our cattle and hear Robert Forster, chief executive of the association, explain its aims, while a top MLC man will also give his view of the future. For an invitation or more details of the NBA (01566-777777). *
John Glover currently milks
65 cows plus followers on a
40ha (100-acre) county
council holding near
having recently moved from
another 20ha (51-acre)
county council farm
RECENT dry weather has set the combines off again. We grew about 30 acres of our own wheat, which we harvest immature to store the grain moist.
We have grown the same variety, Buster, for two years on the same ground. Last year we cut it on July 29, this year it was August 3 and the crop was at a similar stage of maturity. The different growing season has not affected crop ripening.
Grain is harvested at about 35% moisture and rolled or crimped with a formalin-based additive, at 8 litres/t before clamping. Our 30 acres went into a clamp 20ft wide and 40ft long, with an average depth of 5ft, which is about 116t of feed. Brewers grains were put on top, at about 12in deep, it was sheeted down and covered with tyres. This clamp was made outside to save valuable livestock housing.
Our problem this year was finding a machine to crimp the crop. Last year, we hired a machine from FSL Bells who sell the additive but they have now stopped this. Fortunately, another of FSL Bellss customers found a company, Northern Crimping Services, who came down from Northumberland to crimp in the midlands.
As the crop is cut early, straw is not ripe so it must be dried out before baling. Last year we baled it too soon and some bales were mouldy and board-like when wet lumps were baled. To help drying we rowed up field headlands and any areas which had been run on.
The ground we use to grow wheat is in a long narrow strip, on the other side of Lutterworth. Last spring, they started to build a bypass round the southern side of town and we lost about three acres of ground to the new road from one end of the strip.
Access to our ground is off this road. Last harvest the road site was a fenced strip with the top soil removed. The surface was such that we stacked bales in the field and left them until spring.
Now there is a Tarmac dual carriageway with only a small amount of constructor traffic travelling on it and an empty road at weekends. Next year the road will be open and we will have to cope with traffic. *
John Glover has crimped grain which was grown on a piece of land on the other side of town.