Miles Saunders

9 April 1999




Dual-purpose trailer right for a bike

ATV-users looking for a dual purpose trailer might be interested in Armstrong & Holmes latest model, a 200kg capacity hydraulically tipped trailer.

The rear door can be hinged at the top for emptying like a conventional tipping trailer or hinged at the bottom to act as a ramp, says the company.

Designed to be pulled by any size of quad bike, the trailer has its own hand-operated hydraulic pump for tipping.

The body is 1.9m long x 1.2m wide and 1.9m high and is carried on a chassis running on 22×11 tyres, says the company.

It costs £950 (01400 261061, fax 01400 262289).

Wipes and towels friendly to skin

PROTECT sensitive skin from rough wipes by using specially formulated and non-contaminating paper products from Sentinel Laboratories.

Made using natural vegetable dyes, removing the need for bleach or whiteners during manufacture, its disposable wipes and towels are more skin friendly, says the company.

Absorbency and strength have been improved using a slow bonding process during manufacture. All products are completely biodegradable, adds Sentinel. Individually priced, towel packs cost £24 for a 1000-sheet pack of wipes measuring 40cm x 40cm (15 inch sq) (01444 484044, fax 01444 484045).

Now a film wrap for your forages

JOHN Deere has added a film wrap for forages to its range of crop packaging which includes netwrap and baler twin.

Manufactured from a three-layer co-extruded brown film for higher puncture and tear resistance, it is available in black and white colours in both 50cm (19.5 inch) x 1800m rolls at £32 each or 75cm (29.5 inch) x 1500m at £40 (01420 545800, fax 01420 549549).

Gordon Capstick

Gordon and Mary Capstick

farm 230ha (569 acres), at

Milnthorpe in south Cumbria.

Stocking is 100 suckler

cows, with calves finished

alongside 100 purchased

stores, and 1200 Mule

ewes producing prime lambs.

About 10ha (25 acres) of

barley and 6ha (14 acres) of

soft fruit are also grown

I OUGHT to start with an introduction to Park House Farm. On this site we have 215 acres of grass and 10 acres of fruit. We also have 129 acres of parkland and another four acres of fruit adjoining our landlords home at Levens Hall near Kendall and 225 acres of land at another estate farm where the house and buildings have been sold.

All land is tenanted or on a farm business tenancy and belongs to the Bagot family of Levens Hall.

As I write, the silly season is about to begin. Around 70 cows and all the sheep are due to produce in the next few weeks. The cows have already started calving and we have two nice bulls and a heifer, so far. Calving cows look quite fit, after what must have been one of the worst summers and back-ends for many years.

We have just weaned the calves from 30 later calving cows and they are getting an extra helping of barley mixture to get some condition back on them.

Stocks of silage, and especially hay, look tight and all the big bales have now gone. When everything is onto clamp silage it seems to disappear like a snowball in a heat wave.

We have been housing sheep and are pleased with the way they have wintered. But they have recieved hay since late December, beet pulp since mid January and are now on full cake rations. There are a few that dont come up to expectations – probably those that should have been culled harder.

I hear some are worried about all the extra lambs that might be born this year. I think we should talk the price up not down. I am a great supporter of the Farmers Ferry and think it will benefit exports more than ever this year.

We started lambing on March 21 and with 900 due to lamb in the first two weeks, its all hands to the pumps. Lambing time is usually arranged to coincide with the Easter holidays, when our two daughters will be home from university for their Easter break – some break – and Mary will not be busy supply teaching.

We also take on one or two extra helpers to maintain 24-hour cover. Permanent staff consists of our son Paul and our man Dave, who has been with us since he came for a weekend job while still at school 16 years ago. &#42

Christian Fox

Christian Fox has taken

over management of 100

cows and followers, on a

200ha (500 acre) mixed

farm in West Sussex, with

150ha (380 acres) of arable

crops. The plan is to

increase profits and lower

costs by producing more

milk from grazed grass

MILKERS have now grazed 60% of the farm which puts us on target to graze the whole farm once by mid April. Grass growth is about 30kg of dry matter/ha a day and our average farm cover is 1900kg DM/ha.

This is a critical time for grass measuring and budgeting as I want to ensure we make the best use of grazing rather than making heaps of relatively expensive and unwanted silage.

The girls are so pleased to be at grass again. They are doing a great job of grazing by day with maize silage at night, running out of food before morning milking. Concentrate is flat rate fed at 5kg a head with 30% in the morning and 70% at night to encourage good grazing.

By the beginning of April they will be out day and night with no maize and only 4kg of concentrates.

Out-wintered yearlings are getting to grips with the former silage fields over the main road. Weanlings are also getting used to grass in their diet this month. The few born in February and March will have barely eaten concentrate at all. Next year, when we are block calving I hope to wean them from calf pencils straight to grass.

It is strange to think that if the weather is non-Arctic over the coming winters, these weanlings may never be housed again. Then it wont just be Anchor that has free-range cows.

I have decided, after consultation with both our vet and my grassland farmer gurus in Wales, to worm calves with long acting avermectin in late June having given them a challenge over the spring. We will worm them again before winter grazing starts.

When you read this I will be on my annual pilgrimage to the ski slopes. Upon my return I will tail paint the cows for pre-mating heat observation, so I can record all heats for four weeks and then sort out any non-cyclers before we start AI.

This is crunch time for the changes we are making. My dedicated detractors suggest that cows held over this long will be difficult to get in calf. We need a tight calving pattern and a high number of cows in calf to make the system work. &#42

John Davies

John Davies runs an upland

farm in mid-Wales. The main

holding at Pentre comprises

145ha (360 acres) of grass,

with some short-term grass

lets being taken, and hill

rights extending to 97ha

(240 acres). Stocking is

101 suckler cows, 975

ewes, 230 Beulah Speckled

Face ewe lambs and 35

Welsh Mules

ON March 1 I found myself in the Celtic Manor Hotel, together with many others involved in Welsh agriculture, for the launch of the new Welsh beef advertising campaign.

Thanks to the Prince of Wales and Secretary of State it got more coverage than had been anticipated. It was also very pleasing to see it launched in all Welsh Somerfield stores on the same day

By mid March all grassland had received two bags of fertiliser an acre. Some say its a bit early, but T Sum 200 had arrived a couple of weeks earlier and with fertiliser being cheaper tonne for tonne than cake – before you take into account the fact that grass works out at least five times more efficient – then I think its worth the risk. The only limiting factor was ground condition, but low profile tyres combined with borrowed twin wheels made it possible.

We are around three-quarters through lambing and although tempting fate, things seem to have gone fairly well. Mother nature plays a major role even using the sheep shed for twins. There are only so many pens you can knock up for temporary holding. Splitting off thin ewes and giving them a better chance has also worked well.

A new investment is a second-hand bulk feed bin holding around 12t. It cost £900 delivered and erected. To ease the workload during a busy period, we also bought a concentrate snacker feeder which is towed behind the quad-bike. The plan was to just reverse it under the bin and fill it up.

Prior to the bin and feeder being delivered, we installed the base and took measurements from a neighbours feeder to ensure we could reverse underneath. Unfortunately the design has changed and the new feeder is 6in higher than the old one. It was embarrassing having to jackhammer holes out of a concrete base wed just laid, with all the neighbours coming by with a wry smile.

Silage stocks seem to be disappearing faster than melting snow and its unlikely that well have any left over, even though we made more than ever last year. We may need to buy brewers grains to stretch it out. &#42

Miles Saunders

Miles Saunders farms with his

parents on an organic, mixed

370ha (915-acre) farm in

Oxfordshire. Main enterprises

are 200 milking cows and

followers, 190 Mule ewes,

50 beef cross stores and 70

beef cross calves. Winter

wheat, barley, oats and

beans are grown for the

organic market

AS we enter April, turnout is only just around the corner. Our usual turnout date is around April 10, somewhat earlier than last years on May 1.

The main constraint on grazing is soil type, as much of our land is grade 3C-4 Denchworth series clay, and it is very susceptible to poaching.

Grazing is all three to four-year leys with fairly open swards, so there is not much of a grass mat to help keep cows up. But open swards do allow us to make the best of clover. However, grass clover leys are also slow to get started in spring.

I am pleased with most of our new leys, with the grazing ley that was undersown looking best.

Sheep are currently grazing a new silage ley that has a big problem with chickweed. I use sheep as a management tool for grassland production, as much as another enterprise in their own right.

All grazing fields still need to be paddocked. The sheep electric fencing wire and stakes are used to make six-acre paddocks.

This allows us to graze paddocks for two feeds, or run high yielders before low yielders around the farm. It also saves the herdsman from moving fences throughout summer and is easy to take up and allow the fields to be rotated.

Lambing has been going well. We have lambed 180 ewes in less than two weeks, only leaving 40 to go, at the time of writing. The lambing percentage is currently running at 187% – I doubt if it will go up now.

We put a lot of effort into keeping everything as clean and hygienic as possible. Ewes are well bedded and lambing pens were totally cleaned out after the first week. All lambs receive 50ml of cows colostrum as soon after birth as possible, to try to give them the best start possible, as well as navel spraying them with iodine.

Strong ewes and lambs are turned out when lambs are three days old. All this effort put in at lambing time keeps away the problems of watery mouth and other bacterial diseases.

Ewes were fed a concentrate mix, similar to that offered to dairy cows, for three weeks pre-lambing. Hence, the total concentrate cost this year will be just £4 a ewe. &#42


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