Earlier this year myself and Mark Causey organised a farmers trip to Ireland, with the primary focus of looking at how the Irish utilise grass in all forms. The trip included both beef and Dairy units all of which were utilising grass to its full potential either as grazed grass or foraged crop. 11 of us set out on what can only be described as the snowiest morning I have ever seen. At this point, I personally wasn’t sure if we would even make it to Bristol let alone Ireland but after a little bit of a rush we got to Dublin and loaded ourselves into two minivans and set out to our first visit.
It’s an old adage, but one that tends to ring true, but as soon as you hear it makes you remember that sickening feeling in the bottom of your stomach that you had on exam day, when you realised that actually milking cows and driving tractors after school every night was unlikely to contribute to a successful outcome in your maths exam! Nevermind, most of us have attempted to confine that feeling to history, but there may just be more than a few of you that get that same feeling when you open your clamp of silage or look at your costings or bank statement?
Forages this winter presented a particular challenge on farm when it came to rationing. There were many instances of variability in animal response to diet ‘tweaking’, which were put down to abnormal silage profiles. Generally, first cuts were earlier and last year and did feed quite well but in many cases, there wasn’t a lot of it, but as the table below illustrates on average they weren’t significantly improved on previous years.
In December we invited some of Duchy College Level 3 Agricultural students to spend the day with us. We did a tour of the mill to see how the products are made and how everything functions to make the mill run smoothly and efficiently. The students then had a couple of presentations one by myself, talking to them about my experiences as an ex-dutchy student and their options to employment after completing their course.
The weather has been horrendous and we have seen problems associated with birds trudging through the soaked ranges. It is inevitable that the birds that go out onto the range will drink from the muddy puddles and ingest a host of bugs that can affect bird health. Probably the biggest cause of death in laying birds is egg peritonitis or E.coli peritonitis and the drinking of that dirty, infected water certainly doesn’t help! The term egg peritonitis actually covers disorders of the egg-laying tract including impaction of the oviduct, peritonitis and infection of the oviduct. E.coli, however, tends to be the bug that kills the bird.
Farmers must utilise alternative treatments and good nutrition to protect the future of critically important antibiotics, according to speakers at a recent farm seminar. Organised by CMC, Crediton Milling Company, the seminar brought together panellists including top farm vets, agricultural bank managers and a local dairy farmer, and attracted around 60 farmers from across the South West.
Goodbye, 2017….where did that year go!? I have to say that although not financially tough as such due to milk price rises, it has still been one of the tougher years to manage cows over the last 20 years. Cast your mind back to the beginning of the year and predominantly dry weather although the winter and a mild April meant that we saw many people taking first cuts early. With grass at almost optimal quality things looked good for outright production from forage. As we all know Mother Nature dealt us a swift clip round the ear though just to remind us of our position in the pecking order.
Cornwall on 25 January, Devon on 1st February and Somerset on 6th February
Feed management of Ewes during pregnancy, for extra lamb vigour. By Dr Peers Davies MA VetMB PhD MRCVS In most sheep systems profitability hinges on lambs reared per ewe far more than the scanning percentage because lamb survival varies enormously with many flocks scanning at 180% and above but only selling 120-130%. There are many reasons for lambs failing to make it through to sale and even more factors influencing lamb growth rate and final carcase value.