Silage Quality This Winter

As the majority of herds are partially housing cows and buffering quite heavily, we have had the opportunity to open clamps and hopefully come up with a plan for the winter. Many of you will have probably cast your eye across the silage results that have been printed in the national press over the last few months and even had a chance to sit down and compare your silages to the published figures.

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Silages a view from the field

Averages paint a very black and white picture. Unfortunately rarely is life that simple and so it would appear that this year is looking trickier than the averages suggest. There will be some fundamental pressure put on cows for anyone out grazing day and night now and over the last month, and to a certain degree even those out days. Grazing is poor in general and so most herds will have lost 2 litres on average meaning fresh and peak cows are probably 5 litres off already. Not a great start.

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The start of the Ovine production year

Is flushing ewes a thing of the past? As many farmers will say flushing ewes pre and during tupping to increase cycling is a common practice. With better management of sheep and grazing, along with modern techniques such as sponging, use of teasers and tup breading can, arguable, render the practise of flushing a thing of the past.

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All Hot and Bothered …

With temperatures soaring recently in to the mid 30’s it fuelled much conversation about ventilation and particularly fans. With a lot of farm opinion seeming to hinge around it being good just to “move the air about a bit” I thought it was a good time to discuss heat stress, before you spend your hard earned and regret it. This is the temperature and humidity index (THI) that tells us from ongoing research when cows suffer heat stress. It is altering as our understanding of cows continues to grow, for example at 32 °C and 45-95% humidity, moderate to severe heat stress occurs, rising to severe stress the closer it gets to 100% humidity. 

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Soil health and drainage

Being British and involved in farming means that we are genetically pre-disposed to include the following in the first two sentences of a conversation with anyone that we haven’t spoken to in the last week; How quickly the year has gone and the weather! The start of the tail end of the year and the inevitable run towards Christmas, as I write this it is peeing it down outside, which of course means I have to lament about how dry it has been, and no doubt impart words of wisdom which will be completely irrelevant by the time that this lands on your kitchen table. The thing this does illustrate is the growing need for flexibility.

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Eggs – ‘Natures Superfood’

Eggs are a very versatile product and they can be used in many forms, from cooking eggs alone by various methods, or using eggs to bind other foods together. We have a very strong and growing egg market here in the South West which is something to be very proud of so eating eggs regularly can only strengthen our industry as well as yourself! Top tip... A fresh egg will sink in water, a stale one will float!

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Staff – the greatest asset on your farm?

The emphasis on improved efficiency and profitability on farm over the years has seen many innovations in technology, machinery and genetics. Yet for many the focus on staff has been inadvertently placed on the back burner. The continued expansion, intensification, or diversification of farming businesses has meant that many units have employed, or will need to employ staff in the future.

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