John Glover

6 August 1999

Three sires offer higher production

THREE new high production sires, Farnear Elton Ashley Diamond, Corner-Pines Avalanche and Can-Tim Ethan Jim are now available from Dairy Daughters.

Ashley Diamond is said to breed daughters with well attached udders and offers PLI £91, 1141kg milk with a type merit score of 2.76. Straws cost £22 each.

Avalanche (daughter pictured), by Bis-May S E L Mountain offers a PLI of £106, with 1117kg and 30.3kg protein. His straws cost £25.

The third bull, Ethan Jim is said to be easy-calving and particularly suitable for maiden heifers. By Bayville Ethan, he offers 1000kg of milk and £98 PLI. Straws cost £19.50 (01756-748466, fax 01756-749511).

Perfect blending

AVOID protein variability resulting from on-farm mixing of rape and soya by feeding Accumix 40 RS protein blend says supplier Cargill.

The 40% crude protein, 12.6 ME blend of rapemeal and Brazilian soyabean meal is designed for use in total mixed rations, it says.

Recent changes to UK storage and transport codes have made it inadvisable to transport two or more feed materials in non-compartmentalised lorries, says the company.

Mixed under supervised conditions and with a known point of origin, Accumix is said to conform to all UK legislation and codes of practice.

It costs from £102/t delivered (01522-556100, fax 01522-868244).

Making an organic point with weeds

ORGANIC producers can keep on top of docks and tap-rooted thistles without spraying by using the Lazy Dog tool, says manufacturer the Lazy Dog Tool company.

The tool is designed to remove the growing points of the weed with a lever action, preventing regrowth.

It is light to carry at 1.6 kg and physically strong with a long handle to minimise operator bending, says the company.

Different versions are available depending on soil type and weed development stage.

Each Lazy Dog tool costs £40 (01751-417642, fax 01751-417351).

Berth of the cool for farrowing sows

REFLECT heat from pig arks with new paint-like coating, ReduSol-Extra, applied to the outside, says distributor Stock-Aid.

Tests show that the coating reduces ark internal temperatures by up to 9C, reducing sow and piglet mortality and improving performance in hot weather, according to the company.

The product is said to be non-toxic, easily applied, long-lasting and removable. It is designed for use on farrowing, service and dry sow arks.

Paint is applied by spraying and costs less than £1 an ark (tel/fax 01485-578342).

John Martin

John Martin farms with his

parents on the Ards Peninsula

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

RECENTLY I heard someone saying they were time-poor despite all the labour-saving machinery they had, and I can certainly sympathise at this time of year.

Farmers are always well known for their inventive minds. But I do not know of anyone who has invented a microwave bed, which means you can have a nights sleep in 20 minutes.

Seasonal work has resumed with our second cut silage taken in the last week of July, eight weeks after first cut. Recent moisture stress was overcome with 15mm of rain around July 20, and grass started to bulk up.

Grass growth has spurted, with a few seed heads appearing, so tight grazing by cattle followed by topping is the procedure to maintain quality. We have found good response to cattle slurry this season when applied after grazing and rain is imminent to wash it in.

Cattle are well settled and most cows should be back in calf again. The final arrival for this year only appeared on July 15, so his mother, along with a few other late calvers, will have a change of address quite soon to keep our calving tight. Home-mixed meal is being offered to calves in creep feeders to maintain growth rates until weaning.

The remaining lambs were weaned at the end of July and the final cull ewes were identified. We now have about 20 culls to sell. Even if the price is not very attractive, they will go sooner rather than later.

Lamb prices continue their downward slide, further depressed by warm weather and weak demand in France. The only up side is breeding sheep should be cheaper than last year. We have been tighter when culling ewes this year, so along with about 35 homebred ewe lamb replacements we will buy about 40 hoggets.

All ewes and lambs were dipped recently using an organophosphorous product. I am aware of the risks to operator health, and we do all we can to minimise these, but we have yet to find a product as effective.

At last, we seem to be controlling the small number of lambs with severe foot-rot through paring and foot-bathing. This along with dagging and another worm dose is ensuring lambs are finishing in greater numbers now. &#42

Kevin Daniel

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 has

28ha (70 acres) of arable

JULY has turned out to be extremely dry, with only 8mm of rain and the past two weeks almost dawn to dusk sunshine at Trebursye.

This has perfectly coincided with the winter barley harvest, which started on July 24. Moisture content was down to 14%, which is in sharp contrast to last year, when we struggled with damp grain and sodden straw.

Yields have been good at 2.5-2.75t/acre – slightly above our five-year average – and 1.5t/acre of superb golden straw has been harvested in a variety of conventional and round bales.

On the grassland side, growth has almost come to a standstill and south facing slopes are beginning to burn off. But stock always seem to enjoy dry conditions and, providing they have a good supply of water, seem reasonably content. If grazing starts to get seriously short we shall probably begin creep feeding calves and feed cows barley straw.

Experience has shown that once parched pasture has had adequate rain resulting regrowth is of good quality and animals rapidly regain any condition they may have lost.

The first of this seasons lambs were slaughtered on July 10, six days earlier than last year. They averaged 20.6kg deadweight, grading Rs and Us for confirmation. Price was £1.82/kg, based on an R2/3L grade. This compared extremely unfavourably with last years £2.40/kg for the first draw of lambs, and represents a £12 a lamb drop year on year.

That causes me great concern as to where prices will go during the autumn. To counter low prices we shall try to increase carcass weights, although we need to take care that lambs do not become over-fat. But if every producer takes this route to help maintain margins, it will just increase the amount of meat on an already over-supplied market.

We have also taken the precaution of increasing our area of catch crops grown after winter barley, should we need to hold lambs into the New Year.

We have drilled 11 acres of stubble turnips at 1.5 kg/acre and 12 acres of rape at 2kg/acre; 150kg of 20-10-10 fertiliser will go on once crops have established. &#42

Richard Thompson

Richard Thompson farms a

325ha (800-acre) mixed

arable and dairy unit near

Kings Lynn, Norfolk. The

200 dairy cows average

6500 litres on a simple, high

forage system. They are

allocated 40ha (100 acres)

of permanent pasture and

44ha (110 acres) of short

term leys and maize grown in

the arable rotation

SO far this year we have had a good grass-growing season for Norfolk.

We topped all the paddocks in June, and due to good rainfall, they provided quality grazing to mid-July.

Grass started to dry up towards the end of July, so cows are now being buffer fed with 10kg of first cut grass silage. If things continue to dry up, we will increase silage to 20kg a head. However, our autumn calving herd is now drying off fast, which is relieving pressure on grazing.

Having increased our cow numbers to 200, we keep being caught out in various ways. The latest is with water supply to drinking troughs. We were finding that after the afternoon milking, cows were emptying water tanks in paddocks.

We thought we would have to put in some more water tanks. But having examined the plumbing we found the 0.5in inlet pipe was being reduced down to less than 0.25in by inserts and high-pressure ball valves. We altered the plumbing and used high volume ball valves so there were no restrictions to the 0.5in water pipe. This resulted in more than doubling the speed at which water tanks were refilled and this has solved our problem.

Cows have continued to milk well. During the past six months yields have increased from 5600 litres to 7000 litres. The disappointing part is that yield from forage has reduced by 400 litres. There are two main reasons for this: First, having run out of maize silage in March, we have been feeding high levels of concentrate to spring calvers in order to protect their fertility. Second, we have fed over 200t of C quota sugar beet. This is costed in at £8/t, which on our costing system means it is not counted as a forage, although, at that price, it compares favourably with most forages.

After a slow damp start our maize has romped away in hot June and July weather. There is a huge difference between the three drilling dates, with the earliest drillings being 7ft tall by July 20. In future, we must try to get maize in as early as possible after grass silage. &#42

John Glover

John Glover milks 65 Holstein

Friesian cows and rears

replacements on a 40ha

(100-acre) county council

holding near Lutterworth,

Leics, having moved from

another 20ha (51-acre) unit

THREE barren cows were ready to go the other week, but fate was against us and one had to stop behind.

Although we had sorted them out, we had not had time to check their ear-tag numbers and, sure enough, one had lost its tag. As she was on a passport, and needed a replacement tag, she could not go.

The other two were loaded without any bother and sent with the correct paperwork. But the next morning we had a phone call from the abattoir with a problem.

One cow was a down-calving heifer bought last year, which we could not get in calf. She was born before July 1996, so did not need a passport. But we had no date of birth and gave her age as three years. That would have been fine until the end of June, but as of July 1 any cow exactly three years old would need a passport. We had sent them on July 15.

We then had to make a 140 mile round trip to alter the cows age by 15 days and sign a new form. Although it was petty and annoying, if the abattoir had not spotted it, we would not have been paid for her.

I do not think I can be cynical about silage additives any more. Salesmans claims have always been difficult to prove and trying to keep treated crops separate for comparison is not always practical. Last years grass silage was put into Ag-bags and I had not intended to use additive, but we had one box left from the previous year. It was enough to treat 100t of grass.

We started feeding the treated silage in about June and nothing appeared to happen, except cows started to eat more total mixed ration. Cows only have an exercise area of about six acres for 75 cows in milk, so they were not eating much grass. But the forage DM intake increased by about 10% to 14kg/cow a day and milk yields have kept up at about 4500 litres sold for the month.

It may not be conclusive proof, but grass silage will run out next week and we will change to a 100% maize based diet, so we will see what happens then. &#42

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