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DAIRY FARMER Forward thinking for a profitable future
Inside this issue… UBROLEXIN ® FIRST IN MASTITIS. F O R FA R M E R S T H AT L I V E A N D B R E AT H E I T.
Livestock 2012 special preview Pages 16-57
World dairying Pages 12-14
From day one
Should you and your vet choose to rethink your first-line mastitis therapy, Ubrolexin® should be uppermost in your mind. You can be confident knowing that Ubrolexin® can be used first-line without compromising efficacy1. Ubrolexin® is a 1st generation cephalosporin intramammary tube combined, synergistically, with an aminoglycoside. It’s as effective as a 4th generation intramammary cephalosporin and significantly more effective than a 3rd generation intramammary cephalosporin at treating clinical mastitis1. With mastitis still one of the most common and costly diseases in dairy farming2,3 Ubrolexin® deserves serious thought. Talk to your vet about its place on your farm.
References: 1. Bradley A.J & Green M.J Journal Dairy Science 2009, 92:1941–1953. 2. Bradley A.J The Veterinary Journal 2002, 164, 116–128. 3. IAH - Disease Facts - Mastitis. http://www.iah.ac.uk/disease/mastitis. shtml Website Accessed 4.2.2011. Advice on the use of Ubrolexin® or other therapies should be sought from your veterinar y surgeon. Ubrolexin® contains cefalexin monohydrate and kanamycin monosulphate. Prescription only medicine. Withdraw milk from supply for human consumption for 120 hours after the last Ubrolexin® treatment. Further information available from Boehringer Ingelheim Vetmedica, Bracknell, Berkshire, RG12 8YS, UK. Email: email@example.com. Date of preparation: Nov 2011. This advertisement is brought to you from Boehringer Ingelheim, manufacturers of Ubrolexin ®. Use Medicines Responsibly (www.noah.co.uk/responsible). AHD 7013
Renewables Pages 58-62
Win 6t fertiliser Page 39
Win Musto jacket See insert inside
TIP OF THE MONTH: Pick up pointers from the top performing Gold Cup finalists – p20
Pfizer Healthy WP DF_Pfizer Healthy WP DF 13/08/2012 10:07 Page 1
at LIVESTOCK 2012 incorporating Dairy Event As one of the world’s leading animal health companies, Pfizer are proud to be the main sponsor of the National All Breeds show at this year’s event.
Visit us in the Main Hall on stand AH-117 and you could win one of 50 jab boxes – we’re also in the Livestock Hall on stand LH-602. Wherever you find us, ask how our comprehensive livestock and dairy portfolio can help you achieve healthy herds and healthy profits. To find out more, go to www.healthyherds.co.uk
For further information, please contact Pfizer Animal Health, Walton Oaks, Tadworth, Surrey KT20 7NS. Use medicines responsibly (www.noah.co.uk/responsible) Date of preparation 08/12
**DF Sep p1 Contents_Layout 1 10/08/2012 11:34 Page 1
In this issue…
he first stipulated aim of the coalition to get the August cuts rescinded has worked better than anyone would ever have dreamed. Full marks for the concerted effort of naming and shaming and the time-consuming public presence which has kept pressure on in its most tangible form. And the second goal of the long awaited code of practice has come along by leaps and bounds and will be with us very shortly. Which leaves the most difficult one of re-instating the spring price cuts. Here the expectation is that the dedicated buyers with cost of production contracts to honour will set the pace with October increases. Others will hopefully follow as the worry over winter feeding looms ever nearer with homeproduced forages looking questionable and maize crops
starved and stunted. If cost of production is currently put at 30ppl before the expensive winter kicks in, and with some sources predicting feed costs alone rocketing by 1.5ppl, then it’s not hard to see what sort of figure we are talking about. So although the coalition may have saved the industry from meltdown, it still rests on a precarious cusp and we need to see current dysfunctionalism give way to a much firmer and fairer structure. If you turn to p16 you will see the Dairy Group predictions do not make cheery reading, and even our Barclays interview (p56) hints of cheaper eurozone imports and more expensive dollar goods. That’s why there’s an urgency to see milk prices start moving upwards to get the industry into better shape to withstand the challenges ahead. The Dairy Group pithily sums it
Vol 59 No 9
News and comment News review Cowmen comment On farm Potter’s View World dairying Renewables
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Livestock 2012 special preview Editor up: ‘It is time for processors to stop looking at the farmgate price as a flexible bargaining chip when selling milk’. And that is one of the very fundamental changes in mindset we need to be seeing from now on in!
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Breeding & Fertility
Origination by Farmers Guardian, Briefing Media Ltd, Unit 4, Fulwood Business Park, Caxton Road, Preston, Lancashire PR2 9NZ. Printed by Headley Brothers, Invicta Press, Queen’s Road, Ashford, Kent TN24 8HH. No responsibility can be accepted by Dairy Farmer for the opinions expressed by contributors.
DAIRY FARMER SEPTEMBER 2012
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NEWS NEWS IN BRIEF Less milk ■ UK milk production continues to fall at the fastest rate of the last five years, with production now below that of the last five years. Last July we produced 1161m litres, and 1140.9 before that. Current estimates put production 4.5% lower than last year and 2.4% lower than the three-year average. On this basis, volumes would be 1080 to 1100m litres.
Friendly cows ■ Scientists are striving to understand more about networking and interaction between cows to improve health and welfare and increase milk yields. ‘Proximity collars’ have been fitted to cows on a farm in Cullompton, Devon, which use radio signals to determine how close one cow is to another. This allows scientists to map the animals' social interactions. The research is being carried out by the University of Exeter's Animal Behaviour Research Group and is funded by Defra and DairyCo.
Green mill ■ Mole Valley Farmers says its 85,000-tonne per annum Dorchester feed mill will be the first in the UK to be powered completely by renewable energy. The mill will draw electricity and gas from a neighbouring £3.3m anaerobic digester and further electricity from a photovoltaic plant. The AD plant takes in 15,000 tonnes of organic waste annually, including waste food, and 6000t of pig slurry to create methane gas which is used to generate 498kWh of electricity.
Volac growth ■ Volac has announced the acquisition of ECOSYL Products, the UK-based silage additive maker. The deal includes the North Yorkshirebased laboratory and manufacturing facilities together with its subsidiary, the farm products business Rosebeck Services.
Dairy coalition seeks to maintain pressure
lthough most of the major retailers have stepped up to the plate to give processors more money to pay their farmers – with only Farmfoods and Iceland holding out at the time of going to press – demonstrations continue and the dairy coalition of NFU, NFUS, NFU Cymru, the RABDF, WFU, TFA and FFA, have all vowed to keep up the pressure. The group has warned that processors and retailers who didn’t pay a fair price ‘would be put into the spotlight’ – with ‘fair price’ defined as one which ‘at least covers their costs of production’. August will see the coalition fleshing out the heads of terms
agreed on the voluntary code of best practice between farmers and processors; putting further pressure on retailers and processors which still are not paying farmers a cost of production price; and checking the monies promised by the supply chain make it back to farmers.
Guarantees Farming leaders are also looking for guarantees from retailers that additional payments for milk are not being recouped through other dairy products – such as selling cheaper cheese sourced from Ireland, for example. FFA said August would see ‘Phase Two’ gain momentum. “This
Voluntary Code signed at last After weeks of feet dragging by some processors, the heads of agreement on the Voluntary Code was signed at the Royal Welsh Show. To summarise, the Code should enable farmers to leave their milk buyer after three months if they are not happy with a price change; commits every processor to engage with democratically elected farmer representatives; and commits every processor to give one month’s notice of a price change and to ensure there are no retrospective price changes. It will also give farmers a wider choice of payment options; introduce a non-exclusivity clause
so that if a buyer imposed their own production ‘quota’ on a farmer who wanted to expand, or imposed a price reduction on ‘overproduction’, the farmer could sell milk elsewhere; and releases farmers from a contract in the event of a milk buyer going bust. To what extent the code will deliver greater negotiating power remains to be seen, but observers state that it cannot be assumed another buyer will necessarily want the milk when farmers want to leave their buyer. August will see the detail of the Code thrashed out by processor and farmer representatives.
is all about recovering cuts that were made in April, May and June. We intend, along with our partners, to flush out the money that has obviously gone in to someone else’s bank account and we will use every available avenue to achieve this by the deadline of September 1.” This will involve going back to the big four retailers and three largest processors, and the middle ground discounters and food service industry too. “You too need to come clean very quickly to avoid disruption to your business. Again we say to you, show us you have morals and ethics and contact members of the coalition as soon as possible,” said the FFA.
Dairy farmer collaboration NFU Scotland has launched a ‘Dairy Farmers Together’ initiative to help dairy farmers collaborate and improve negotiating positions. It will also enable groups to ‘maximise any benefits a new voluntary code of conduct for the sector, to be negotiated in August, may deliver’. Supported by £100,000 from the Scottish Government, DFT is looking to use partners within the UK to develop collaboration between dairy farmers and groups of producers; to deliver a milk price which underpins profitable dairy farming; to strengthen and grow co-operation in the dairy sector; and to address and improve the effectiveness of existing producer representative bodies.
Recognition programme for dairy farming skills DairyCo is introducing a new skills and achievement recognition programme called Dairy Pro. The scheme has been devised and implemented by an industry steering group, and is funded by DairyCo and Residual Milk Marketing Board funds.
The aim is to recognise the broad range of skills dairy farmers and farm staff have and continue to develop on a daily basis. “We want Dairy Pro to be a recognised mark for professionalism in dairy farming,” says group chairman David Cotton.
DAIRY FARMER SEPTEMBER 2012
To join the scheme register online at www.dairypro.co.uk (or visit stand BM231 at Livestock 2012), then look out for the Dairy Pro logo on stands and at demonstrations around the event where you can start to pick up points.
**DF Sep p2 3 News_Layout 1 10/08/2012 11:35 Page 2
NFU seeks names for PO database THE NFU is asking all dairy farmers to sign a form to allow for the collection of dairy farmers’ contact and milk buyer details to form an independent database. This will potentially be used to help groups of farmers interested in forming a Producer Organisation under the terms of the EU’s Dairy Package. The information will only be shared with third parties for the purpose of establishing a PO, and subject to data protection rules. “The NFU has started this process on behalf of all dairy farmers and we require the help of all stakeholders and their members to see it become a success,” said the NFU. The process is likely to carry on through the autumn, with a view to having a PO in operation by next spring. By signing the form a farmer is not committing to form a PO but rather consenting to be contacted by someone who wishes to form a PO, for instance to attend a meeting etc, insists the organisation. Vice-chairman of the dairy board Rob Harrison said: “Farmers need to look to producer organisations as one possible route. Markets will always go up and down, however a combination of well-run farmer co-ops and producer organisations will enable dairy farmers to get a fair market price. We must readdress the balance of dairy contracts, and farmers will have more power if we work together.”
Will dairy prices start to rally in fourth quarter? RECENTLY Rabobank predicted dairy prices would probably rally in the first quarter of 2013. Now it is saying it could be sooner than that because of the US drought. It believes growth in milk volumes in the US will be zero this year due to high feed costs, heat stressed cows and poor milk prices. This will lead to an ‘earlier than predicted milk price rally, perhaps in the fourth quarter of 2012’, it says. Currently the UK market is very quiet, with cream prices still at or around £1.00 to £1.05. But there are signs that the market may be moving in the right direction at last: ■ The latest UDF auction was up 2.6ppl on last month, and 3.5p on two months ago. It was still 4.5p lower than this time last year. Reduced volumes are the main reason for the price increase, with 38m litres up for grabs compared with 47m and 46m litres in the
previous two auctions. ■ The latest Global Dairy Trade Auction saw prices rise by 3.5%, believed to be on the back of sentiment related to the US drought. ■ US futures prices for SMP are trending higher. ■ Dairy Auctions’ online prices for butter and whey powder are generally upward. ■ Prices across Europe for butter and powder are increasing. ■ Milk supplies are tightening. ■ Cheese prices are holding up. ■ Private Storage Aid for butter comes to an end this month, and the period when stocks have to be removed begins. So far there are just over 122,000 tonnes in store. However, forward prices for fat are still trending down on the GDT platform. The markets may be better, therefore, but they aren’t anywhere near high enough yet to pay cost of production prices.
Buying habits set to change A STAGGERING 19% of consumers are looking to change the way they shop as a result of the high profile dairy protests. This is according to a survey by trade magazine The Grocer, carried out by YouGov. It would mean 4.3 million shoppers changing their behaviour, with 2.64m of these
planning to switch retailers. The article’s author said shoppers were thinking about buying their milk elsewhere because they believe retailers are the main cause of dairy farmers’ woes. Some 66% said retailers are to blame for low farmgate prices, while 29% said the processors were to blame.
DAIRY FARMER SEPTEMBER 2012
WIN FERTILISER WIN six tonnes of fertiliser in our super GrowHow competition and the winner will be able to choose any product from the current range. ■ See full details on p39, or visit the GrowHow stand (F5) or our stand (BM226) at Livestock 2012, or enter online at www.farmersguardian. com/growhow
WIN A MUSTO JACKET
Win one of 10 Musto jackets worth £120 each. For the third successive year, Dairy Farmer is working with the National Fertility Survey supported by Metricure to try and understand the challenges being faced by you and your herd. Fertility is an ongoing challenge for most herds. Nationally the picture appears to be one of lengthening calving intervals and increased cull rates due to fertility issues, but is this the case? Now is your chance to tell us, and you could win one of 10 very smart Musto jackets worth £120. ■ See insert enclosed, or apply online at www.farmers guardian.com/fertility2012
**DF Sep p4 Cowmen Gibson_Layout 1 08/08/2012 18:21 Page 1
Conveyor will deliver feed every three hours to cows
y plan to make an automated feeding system took longer to perfect than I had initially intended. The sheds to house the new feeding system went up in 2009 but neighbouring land coming up for sale and the demise of DFB put things on hold. During summer 2011 we limped on and finished the building, and by autumn last year we had created spaces for 180 cows in cubicles and had three robots installed for two groups of cows. The ‘new’ robot was a trade in one which is 13 years old now. Both groups have a feed trough and the clever feeding system which we put together during the autumn of last year had its big start up on Christmas Eve. A static TMR mixer now feeds the cows and is filled twice a day with the loader – this then feeds them eight times a day via belt conveyors into the feed troughs. The troughs have what is known as a ‘byre scraper’ in them, which is like a baggage carousel from an airport in the bottom, which sweeps the feed
round from the overhead conveyor filling point. The whole thing sounds very complicated but it has simplified the feeding of the cows, done away with a lot of machinery and more importantly gives the cows fresh food every three hours. Intakes are well up and the milk generated from forage is now more than 1000 litres up compared to last year. To say there is less machinery is not absolutely accurate as we are dependent on a feeder, four big conveyors and a couple of chains in the feed troughs. To be fair the problems, which everyone wants to know about, have been limited to the feed chain breaking a few times. It is all powered by threephase electric, and as we are only on a single phase power supply the whole system starts and stops its own generator to power itself. Loading it takes about 15 minutes once a day. The mixer has a load cell system on it but we had one on our loader and use that as it is as quick and handy. Once a month we are going round greasing all the moving parts. There are two
Static TMR – filling the hopper for the start of automatic feeding.
Tim Gibson Tim Gibson farms in Bedale, North Yorkshire, milking 180 cows with three Lely robots. The farm produces 140 acres of combinable crops and employs one man full-time. Tim also runs a separate dairy engineering and supplies business from the farm.
motors on the mixer and four conveyor motors and two trough motors, but to make sure I have backup plans I have a spare on the conveyor and trough motors, and the mixer can work with one off the auger. Having started it all up on Christmas Eve we did have some faith it would all work and it certainly has made a marked difference. For one thing, no tractors or machinery need to go into the cows and there is no slurry to handle. We had bought a second tractor last summer to help at silage time as one tractor limited us a bit with the loader. But for the months of January, February and into March this year neither of the two tractors was even started. Our loader can now do everything we need and uses next to no diesel. The generator takes about 25 litres a week to top it up. We think by the end of the year it will have put more than 1000 litres onto the herd average, but some of this has definitely come from not turning the cows out this spring and keeping them in. My plan was to take first cut off everywhere before the cows went out but with the wet weather and the way the feeding has worked I have opted to keep them in this year. I do feel a bit of a cheat, but they are so content and seem a lot better for it. We have a lot less lameness which was mainly caused by our gravelly land and stones being walked on to the concrete. Milk quality is much better also, and has improved my spring price especially from not buffer feeding the cows with grass like
DAIRY FARMER SEPTEMBER 2012
Open day ■ For those interested in the new system, Dairy Farmer will be working with Tim on an open day next April. Details closer to the time. we have for the last 10 years. It has been a big change in policy but has resulted in more cows, more milk and less hassle. The new system is doing what I expected it would, and from what I have seen in other units cows being milked more often in 24 hours on robots need also to be fed more often in a system like this to get the best from them. Cost wise I haven’t gone mad, and in my usual Yorkshire manner have probably been a bit tight on a few things that deserved more spending on them. The mixer, conveyors, troughs and time to install it all will have come to about £35,000. Buildings have been about £50,000 but included in that is a slurry store under one of them which is slatted. This is only a small shed as there’s no need for a tractor to drive through it, and is 30ft wide and 75ft long. This feeds the main group of 125 cows on rubber covered slatted floors. My next aim is 200+ cows, which should be achievable with a consistent all year round calving pattern, and also space to provide better dry cow housing.
Farm facts ■ FARM SIZE: 350 acres ■ YIELDS: 8000kg, 3.8% BF & 3.3% P ■ SOIL TYPE: Sandy and stony ■ RAINFALL: 24 ins ■ MILK BUYER: Paynes Dairies.
Genus WP DF_Genus WP DF 07/08/2012 08:52 Page 1
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**DF Sep p6 7 Mastitis Survey_Layout 1 09/08/2012 11:55 Page 1
National Mastitis Survey 2012 What can be gleaned from this year’s National Mastitis Survey? We live in changing times so what is actually happening out there with mastitis levels and what are farmers doing to tackle it?
ith more than 1600 replies this year, the fourth National Mastitis Survey continues the trend of an increasing number of farmers willing to take the trouble to fill in the questionnaire. The survey asks for general farm information, mastitis challenges being faced, and how milk and udder health is managed. Experience shows that the information gleaned from this type of survey inevitably tends to reflect those farms that generally appear to have better standards than the average unit, however the information (coupled with the year on year comparisons) is a very useful resource for the dairy industry. The data from all four annual surveys, collected via forms in Dairy Farmer and Farmers Guardian’s website as well as direct mailing, has been analysed by Mandy Boddy and vet and mastitis expert Andrew Biggs from the Vale Veterinary Group, Tiverton, with an aim of interpreting the trends, both good and bad. Overall, although the number of respondents has increased, many of the general trends remain the same demonstrating how robust the study is. There are a few notable exceptions – read on to learn more. So we all know herds are getting bigger (graph 1 showing herd size, graph 2 showing yield)
but what effect is that having? Do they get more mastitis or have higher cell counts? Well there is good news on cell counts where a greater proportion of farmers responding have cell counts in the lower bands. Moreover, that is across the board irrespective of herd size. Mastitis cases are little different over the four years (graph 3) apart from a mild deterioration. There are slightly fewer herds in the lower mastitis case bands, however there is a trend for herds with higher cell counts to have more mastitis cases – a clear incentive to get your cell count down.
Larger herds The statistics show bigger herds do not always have more mastitis or higher cell counts, but that does depend on how many cows are being ‘looked after’ per person. The more cows per milking operative the higher the herd cell count tends to be – this brings home how important it is to really look after those cows in the parlour. There was also a trend as in previous years for larger herds to be ‘working’ their parlours harder and getting more milk per milking unit than smaller herds. This is almost certainly because although many farmers have expanded their herds in recent years, not so many have increased the number of milking units at the same time. What about what happens in
the parlour? How does that affect mastitis rates? There was a greater proportion of herds with a low cell count that routinely foremilked all cows at every milking. More herds dipped than sprayed (both pre and post) and that has increased since last year. This is good as both were associated with lower cell counts
DAIRY FARMER SEPTEMBER 2012
and bactoscans. The trend was stronger between predisinfection and bactoscans and post disinfection and cell counts as one might expect. However it is difficult to tell if this is a cause and effect, or just that careful farmers do things better. Still 13% of farmers do not wear gloves for every milking
**DF Sep p6 7 Mastitis Survey_Layout 1 09/08/2012 11:55 Page 2
Graph 5: Bacteria causing mastitis as reported by respondents (all four years).
which considering they are producing food is still a worry. However, and perhaps bizarrely, only 4% of farmers never do any form of cluster disinfection and surprisingly as many as 24% cluster disinfect all units for all cows which has got to be more of an effort than putting those gloves on! Dipping clusters was the most common method used with 58% of respondents stating they do this, compared to automatic cluster disinfection systems which were present on 16% of respondent’s farms.
Even before the atrocious ‘summer’ we have had, in 2012 an increasing proportion of milking cows (16% in 2009 and 22% in 2012) are being kept indoors compared to herds (11% in 2009 and 15% in 2012). This indicates larger herds are more likely to permanently house their milkers or at least their high yielders. While these cows are in, it comes as no surprise that straw, sawdust and sand are the most common bedding types used, with straw being associated with the highest cell count and mastitis rates of
Graph 6: Combination therapy use banded by BMSCC category. This graph shows cell counts along the bottom against the rate of use of combination therapy being used in this category. The general trend is towards greater use of combination therapy in lower BMSCC herds, eg 101,000-150,000 cells/ml herds 87 use combination therapy in more than 75% of cases, 58 use it in 51-75% of cases, 107 in 26-50% of cases, 154 in 11-25% of cases and 217 in 0-10% of cases.
these bedding types (see graph 4). Three quarters of respondents use some form of cubicle conditioner to change the acidity/alkalinity with lime being used by twothirds of those respondents.
Management This sort of information is not just interesting to see what is happening on farms but can
also contribute to increasing the ability of vets and farmers to effectively manage mastitis. The survey sponsor, MSD Animal Health along with Dairy Farmer, DairyCo (with whom we are now working to disseminate the findings) would like to thank everyone who has responded this year and in previous years.
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www.deosan.co.uk DAIRY FARMER SEPTEMBER 2012
**DF Sep p8 9 On Farm _Layout 1 08/08/2012 18:23 Page 1
High yielding herd is just warming to task Managing a herd which averages more than 10,000 litres can be demanding in itself, but doing it while modernising the dairy facilities at the same time can bring extra strain. Jeremy Hunt reports.
simple and straightforward approach to feeding dairy cows is fundamental to the way Stephen Garth’s Bowlandview Holstein herd is rationed – and the proof of its success is an economically produced herd average of 10,500 litres at 3.85% butterfat and 3.18% protein. Copp Farm, Great Eccleston, Lancashire, extends to 170 acres of owned land and 40 acres rented – with a further 18 acres of maize grown on contract. The herd, which is run in a partnership of Stephen and his wife Jackie and Stephen’s parents Jim and Irene Garth, comprises 160 pedigree Holstein milkers. Around 25 surplus replacement heifers are sold each year. Last year the farm made a substantial investment in a new Westfalia parlour which now sees the herd milked in 1.5 hours. The
Westfalia 16:32 herringbone with auto identification, automatic feeders and fitted heat detectors is big enough to cope with herd expansion up to 300 cows. “I’d always wanted a swing-over herringbone – for me it creates the best environment for the milker and for the cows. We spray teats before and after milking and I can get 100 cows an hour through comfortably,” says Stephen. “The parlour ticks all the boxes. I wanted reliability, a system that milks cows correctly and a set-up that allows the cows to be milked by one operator. We feed in the parlour so cow flow is good and we don’t need a backing gate.” A new building to accommodate the parlour and a straw yard alongside (for cows post-calving) has also been put up. “We took over the farm in 1997 and every building on the farm except one has been put up since we arrived.
I’d always wanted a swing-over herringbone – for me it creates the best environment for the milker and for the cows. Stephen Garth But everything is now under one roof including the 150 cubicles – some cubicles are fitted with mats while others have mattresses – a race and crush and cow foot bath, so it’s finally all coming together and working well.” Summer management sees cows turned out late April/early May and stripped grazed behind an electric fence – although cows are always housed at night throughout the grazing season. The herd is given a summer mix of silage, balancer meal and straw.
Stephen Garth embarked on an extensive building programme after taking over the farm in 1997.
DAIRY FARMER SEPTEMBER 2012
“We like to keep things simple and don’t get involved with straights,” says Stephen, whose cows aren’t grouped. This summer has been challenging to say the least as persistent wet weather has seen the cows brought back inside full time on two occasions. By midJuly they were back inside again and eating about 43kg a day (fresh weight) of the trough mix and fed up to 10kg a head a day of concentrate in the two parlour milkings. “From January until turnout this spring we had about 16 cows every month doing more than 50 litres; we used to feed up to 8kg in the old parlour but we’ve achieved higher peak yields since we started to feed a bit harder,” declares Stephen. “When cows came back inside for the second time this summer there was one month where we were feeding three different silages. Nothing has been normal about managing dairy cows this year.” Winter rationing usually starts in September – although ‘open’ autumn weather in recent years has seen plenty of late season grass on the farm. Rations are formulated by Paul Mardell, dairy consultant with Dugdale Nutrition. “Our winter diet is based on grass silage, maize silage, straw and fodder beet. We’ve been feeding up to 5kg of an out-of-parlour meal in the mix plus 6kg a head a day of fodder beet. The beet is just tipped into the mixer so it comes through fairly roughly chopped. “The beet encourages cows to eat more, therefore achieving higher dry matter intakes and also gives them a good boost of sugar which has been a very useful addition to the winter diet,” adds Stephen.
**DF Sep p8 9 On Farm _Layout 1 10/08/2012 13:05 Page 2
Work has just started on the new 120ft by 45ft silage clamp.
Surplus heifers are reared and 25 sold as replacements each year.
Last winter 12kg of maize was fed along with around 25kg of grass silage. But trying to keep feed intakes stable and avoid changing the diet’s constituents is still considered an essential part of the system, says Stephen, who has also had cow welfare high on the agenda as the infrastructure of the farm has been put in place over the last 15 years. “Keeping cows as comfortable as possible and giving them plenty of room has always been a priority for us.” The herd currently has two
10,000 litres and we’ve a third calver from the Erica family by Weeton Roulette which has just done 16,000 litres with her third calf. She did 10,466 litres as a heifer and 13,235 litres with her second. That’s the sort you want – the ones which are trouble free and just get on with it,” he says. The on-going investment in the farm is now being put into constructing a new silage pit (120ft x 45ft) which will free-up another building for a dry cow, pre-calving area. Cow numbers will probably rise over the next few years. “We
cows which have given 110 tonnes of milk and there are more on track to do the same. One of them is from the herd’s Ruth family from Eranda. Stephen is on the Holstein Cattle Society’s judging panel and while he acknowledges the importance of breeding for type and its subsequent effect on longevity, he admits there’s a lot of ‘luck’ involved in breeding cows which last. “If a cow is the type that’s determined to go on and keep milking it will probably do that. We’ve plenty of heifers doing
DAIRY FARMER SEPTEMBER 2012
work seven days a week and I milk every day. If we reached 200 cows we could employ more staff and hopefully have a bit more spare time to spend with the family. “I’m confident about the future for dairy farming but making a living out of milk shouldn’t mean you’ve got to work yourself to the limit all the time. Figures have just been published that show the UK is one of the world’s most densely populated countries so we should be able to use that to our advantage and be paid a fair price for the food we produce,” he adds.
**DF Sep p10 Potter_Layout 1 08/08/2012 18:31 Page 1
We must now get onto new footing While this month Ian Potter praises the new-found unity, he is equally concerned about finding a path ahead for the future, and a leader to take us there.
emonstrations. What demonstrations! Wow. They were all a huge team effort involving farmers, their suppliers and supporters. Politically, all parties and organisations worked well together under the banner of the dairy coalition including FFA, NFU, NFUS, NFU Cymru, RABDF, TFA and WFU. NFU chief Peter Kendall put his arm around Handley and FFA (metaphorically speaking), and worked cleverly with a good cop, bad cop routine. It was a huge test for the NFU, which Peter Kendall took charge of. He dragged the old school NFU dinosaurs by the neck and did it his way. Credit to him it worked. For me it was great news the dairy industry got its act together and also maintained public support and we didn’t end-up dumping milk, disrupting supplies to the Olympics, or culling lots of cows. The coalition aimed at specific targets, fired and moved onto the next rather than machine gunning all and sundry. Others behind the scenes also require recognition. The media coverage was by and large first class and very supportive. DairyCo provided credible, independent, market intelligence to the media, FFA, NFUs and dairy farmers, and almost all the farmers and representatives I heard on the TV and radio used it and portrayed a very professional commentary with snappy, punchy answers. It was levy money well spent, DairyCo. I have, in my time, been a critic of DairyCo and have frequently questioned how it invests, spends (and sometimes, in my opinion, wastes) levy payers’ money. But there’s no doubt it should be the automatic one-stop shop for information in these situations. If I had one slight criticism of
We have to be realistic and recognise the achievement to reverse the August 1 liquid price cuts is only like sticking a plaster on a bad wound. the campaign it was of the much publicised RABDF milk bottle showing incorrect retailer profits. DairyCo should have a new bottle ready at a moments notice, and if it hasn’t read the tea leaves I’ll spell it out to them: market information and promoting milk and dairying are what the majority of farmers want their levy money spent on. But for all the effort put in by everyone, we have to be realistic and recognise the achievement to reverse the August 1 liquid price cuts is only like sticking a plaster on a bad wound. It has changed nothing long term. We know the same wound will open up again when someone picks at the scab unless some major surgery is carried out to rid the disease underneath. The only language the (non-aligned) market place seems to understand is ‘we will pay what we have to when we have to and rarely any more’. But then who can blame them, really. Processors and retailers are price driven, and the sooner they are short of that precious liquid milk they desperately need every day the better. Today’s pricing mechanism
is broken, almost beyond economical repair. We need to sell milk and negotiate differently. Many milk processors and retailers listened to the cry and stepped forward with increases. There is still some ‘tidying up’ to do as I write, including tackling the harder nuts like Iceland and Farmfoods, who have not even blinked at the protests and should be pressurized or shamed to pay a price for their milk which reflects the cost of production. Asda is still on the radar, as is Freshways for importing milk from Belgium during the protests. Not only does Jamie Oliver buy his milk from Freshways, but vicechairman of FFA Andrew Hemmings sells his milk to them! This prompted a headline in The Daily Telegraph of ‘Oliver, the fair deal champion pays farmers less than their costs for milk’. To Bally Nijjar (Freshway’s owner) I ask: is this imported milk Farm Assured, branded as Red Tractor, or is it just cheaper at 31p than paying your existing farmers more? Finally, it’s fine for Jim Paice to pressurise retailers to do the right thing when purchasing liquid milk but he should first get the Government’s own house in order for dairy product procurement. The farmers supplying the House of Commons and Lords catering suppliers are also paid below COP and the various Government departments still source on price. By October 1, the Tesco price will, baring a miracle on falling costs, certainly increase and if Wiseman/Muller dares to implement a September 1 price cut I think I can safely predict more than a small riot on their doorstep. Returning to my last article concerning the fact the abolition of milk quotas in 2015 would affect us and could hit us hard, I’ll share with you now the Irish Farmers Association’s (the
DAIRY FARMER SEPTEMBER 2012
Ian Potter Ian is a specialist milk quota and entitlement broker. Comments please to email@example.com equivalent of our NFUs) view. Its plan is called ‘Food Harvest 2020 Dairy Expansion’ and its analysis is telling dairy farmers ‘National production growth of 52% by 2020 is realistic, from 390,000 more cows and better yields’. This, it claims, would result in a 54% increase in annual export earnings, creating an additional 9400 new jobs. And, guess what? Not only does it have a plan, the IFA is now working hard to persuade its Government to provide additional tax relief for farmers who invest in dairying. And that’s on top of the Dairy Equipment Grant Scheme in operation. The IFA is travelling the country with meetings entitled ‘Focus on confident Growth’, asking how will the dairy expansion be funded? Where will your extra milk be sold, and into what products? Clearly the Irish are pretty confident and intent on seizing opportunities while we are in total turmoil. Come on GB industry. Do we want to continue to (for want of an expression) scratch around the yard with the hens or soar with the eagles? One reader suggested we need a Fonterra plan. I’m not sure what we need, but I can’t see anyone who is taking the threats and opportunities seriously enough. We are looking through our rear view mirror rather than looking forward. Who is going to step forward to drive the GB dairy industry forward? We need an experenced driver or we could be heading towards the brink of a disaster. The next few weeks and months will be critical, I feel!
BOCM Pauls WP DF_BOCM Pauls WP DF 10/08/2012 12:41 Page 1
**DF Sep p12 14 Czech_Layout 1 08/08/2012 18:33 Page 1
Support remains central to Czech dairying profitability Tractor maker Zetor recently hosted a visit to the Czech Republic to see its latest models and visit some of the country’s farms. Martin Rickatson reports on how Czech dairying is shaping up.
ore than 20 years on from the advent of the free market in Eastern Europe, traces of what went before are fading. In agricultural terms, however, one of the strongest reminders of how things used to be before the country signed up to the Warsaw Pact in 1955, is the complex land ownership structure which is the bane of many of today’s farm enterprises. When, like those in other eastern bloc countries, the farms of what was then Czechoslovakia were collectivised in the 1950s, farm sizes were only a few hectares at most. The collapse of communism saw that land, in most cases, returned to its former owners or descendants where they could be traced. With such small acreages being unviable, though, most farmers formed cooperatives to amass enough land to make farming financially possible in the modern age. The difference between the relative sizes of a viable farm then and now means the number of shareholders in these cooperatives is high, and as land ownership is highly valued and few owners are keen to sell their small land parcels to others, it means running a profitable operation is a challenge. With close on 2000 shareholders (the business has added further land since its formation in 1998), the ZEAS Lysice farming co-operative, based not far from the Czech city of Brno where Zetor tractors are
The ZEAS Lysice co-op milks a 300-strong herd of heavy-framed Czech Reds which average 6000 litres. produced, has to keep more than just one farming family and its bank manager happy. Outside investors, though, are now beginning to buy out some smaller shareholders as the former become keen to be involved in what they see as a sector with long term potential.
Enterprises ZEAS Lysice oversees 2200ha (3500 acres) on behalf of its shareholders, and manages various livestock businesses including a 50,000 broiler enterprise and a 2600 sow pig unit, plus apple, strawberry and blackcurrant production. Some 590ha (1460 acres) of that land total is under grass, with the remainder down to wheat, barley, maize, oilseed rape and soya, much of which is grown for on-farm use. But it is milk and beef production that is at the heart of the co-op. Some 600 bulls are
raised each year, both bought in and from the farm’s own cows. These are slaughtered at 18 months of age at around 670kg. Average price realised over the past 12 months was €1.85/kg (£1.45/kg). The milking enterprise centres around a 300-strong herd of Czech Red dairy cows and 160 followers. The cattle are a dualpurpose type common to this region of Europe in the Czech Republic’s south east corner, close to Austria and Slovakia. “They are a heavily built, long lasting cow, similar to a Meuse Rhine Issel,” says Jaroslav Brach, ZEAS farms director. “Most will do at least 10 lactations,” he adds. “Although we bring feed to the cows and house them all year round in open barns which are equipped with rubber-mattressed cantilever cubicles and have loafing areas, we don’t practise a high input system.”
DAIRY FARMER SEPTEMBER 2012
Feed is almost totally homegrown. At 350-650m above sea level, and with a temperate climate, the loamy clay land grows grass and enjoys the sort of spring temperatures needed to produce good crops of maize and soya. “Our TMR includes grass silage, maize silage, rolled barley, soya and rapeseed meal, and we feed to yield, averaging 20 litres/day and 6000 litres/year, at 4.04% butterfat and 3.47% protein,” Mr Brach explains. Cattle are milked twice daily through a modern 10:10 herringbone with milk sold to a local processor, and at the time of our visit ZEAS was receiving €0.31/litre (24.5p/litre). “The problem for us is that, despite using as much homegrown feed as possible and a housed but extensive system that doesn’t push the cows excessively, prices for general inputs are high,
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**DF Sep p12 14 Czech_Layout 1 08/08/2012 18:34 Page 2
Both dairy replacements and bull calves are raised outside in hutches.
Some 600 bulls are raised each year, slaughtered at 18 months weighing 670kg and return around €1.85/kg (£1.45/kg).
which raises our production costs. We also face competition from cheaper imported processed milk products, particularly from Germany.” Mr Brach acknowledges that, like many Czech agricultural businesses, the company has a relatively high staff level – as a total concern it employs 100 – but he counters this with the argument that the alterative is higher borrowing to fund greater mechanisation. “It’s about more than just our livestock units, our cropping enterprises and our contracting
we are making a loss before SFP. And some of the proposals for the next round of CAP reform are worrying. “Under our current mixed farming system, a bad season on one enterprise can be made up by a good performance in another, but under the flat rate payment some are proposing, our SPS income would be capped. The ‘greening’ proposals are also a concern, as under our current production system we need every hectare of usable land we have to support crop and grass production.”
operation. Integrated into the business is our feed mill, building supplies, canteen management, workwear manufacturing and feeder wagon/silage film retailing operations, so we provide a great deal of employment among surrounding villages and are involved in areas which help to keep our input costs down and support our community.” That said, Mr Brach concedes the business cannot make a profit without its Single Farm Payment. “We would like to invest and modernise more of our production systems, but it’s hard to do so when
With most landowners remaining small scale, further expansion is one avenue still open to the business, and ZEAS Lysice now rents farms over 14 municipalities to boost its production levels and spread costs. Most are in the Brno area, so crop/grass haulage is relatively short and easy. But having to deal with the legacy of small land areas and large labour forces as it does, this may well hamper the country’s ability to compete in the dairy market outside of its own borders for some time to come.
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**DF Sep p16 Milk Costs _Layout 1 09/08/2012 11:56 Page 1
Tough winter ahead as feed costs keep rising There will have to be a dramatic rise in the milk price if producers are to make any sort of margin this winter in the face of escalating costs. Ian Powell of the Dairy Group takes us through the figures.
ver recent weeks there has been an increased focus on the cost of milk production and how this relates to milk price. There is now great concern about the high cost of feed and the quality and availability of forage in the coming months. The cost of purchased feed this winter is likely to be 24% higher, based on a comparison of the forward price of feeds now compared with the price in March 2012, with soya increasing by 46% and rapeseed meal by 31%. To project the average feed cost for 2012/13 is less straightforward as this higher feed cost applies to the winter period, which is about half of the financial year. Our forecast of milk production costs for 2012/13 is based on our latest analysis of specialist dairy farm accounts for 2010/11 (see table below) which was 29.1ppl. Our analysis is based on 40 sets of specialist dairy farm accounts. The analysis excludes the Single Payments and any non-dairy
income, but it includes the value of unpaid family labour although it does not fully reflect the rental value of owned land. The projected milk price is based on the milk price at August 1, 2012, with the milk price cuts suspended. Clearly, if further price cuts are implemented before March 31, 2013, the forecast loss of 2.2ppl will be greater.
Purchased feed Based on our analysis the purchased feed cost could increase to 9.5ppl in 2012/13. The feed cost will vary enormously between farms depending whether they have contracted forward and depending on the feeding strategies they adopt to mitigate the higher cost of purchased feed and especially protein feeds. The average production cost is forecast to increase to 29.9ppl in 2011/12 and to increase to 31.5ppl in 2012/13, mainly due to the increased cost of purchased feed. This is possibly a conservative forecast of costs and what is more
The Dairy Group – milk production cost trends Dairy costs Actual Projection Projection Year end 2010/11 2011/12 2012/13 Milk sales 25.6 27.9 26.6 Livestock sales 2.0 2.5 2.7 Total output 27.8 30.4 29.3 Feed 7.9 8.2 9.5 Forage 2.0 1.9 1.9 Vet & med 1.3 1.3 1.4 AI/recording 0.5 0.5 0.5 Sundries 1.4 1.4 1.5 Total Variable Costs 13.1 13.4 14.8 Gross Margin 14.8 17.0 14.5 Wages paid & family 5.0 5.0 5.1 Power & Machinery 6.6 6.8 6.9 Property costs 1.9 1.9 2.0 Administration 1.0 1.0 1.1 Rent & finance 1.6 1.7 1.7 Total overhead costs 16.1 16.5 16.7 Profit after unpaid wages -1.3 0.5 -2.2 Total costs 29.1 29.9 31.5 Source: 1. The Dairy Group accounts database of specialist dairy farms 2. The Dairy Group milk production cost forecast
It is time for processors to stop looking at the farmgate price as a flexible bargaining chip when selling milk. Ian Powell difficult to quantify is the impact of forage quality. Our early analysis of forage samples does indicate some reasonable first cut silage, but later cuts are tending to be lower dry matter and lower energy. Also the maize crop is highly variable, with some crops re-drilled and the yield potential for many crops is certainly lower. Some farms have chosen to make whole crop cereals to compensate for a potential forage shortfall, but at a cost of around £600 per acre plus harvesting this will not have been a cheap option. A significant factor in the cost of production is the volume of milk sales, and this may prove to be a larger factor in increasing cost per litre where there has been a loss in milk sales this summer from the wet weather and where insufficient quality forage has been made. There will also be a temptation to feed less and possibly cheaper feeds, which will also impact on milk sales this winter and effectively increase the milk production cost per litre. The issue of the high cost of milk production is not going away and there is a real danger this winter many dairy farmers will be forced to exit production, especially if bank credit is not available, with tenant dairy
DAIRY FARMER SEPTEMBER 2012
farmers most exposed. The proposed milk contract code of practice is a step in the right direction, and the ability for producers to have a right to resign following an unacceptable price cut is welcome but of little use if the alternative milk contract available is also paying well below the cost of milk production.
Primary It is time for processors to stop looking at the farmgate price as a flexible bargaining chip when selling milk, but as a primary cost to secure supplies that meet their volume and quality needs. The getting ‘more for less’ mantra which is pinned above every retailer buyer’s desk needs to change. The whole supply chain needs to be able to profit from the relationship, including processors and dairy farmers. Processors need to look to service and efficiency and not price as their point of differentiation. The widespread acceptance of the cost of production should form a base in the price setting process that, while not enshrined in legislation, should be used by Government to shame the supply chain into playing fair to all suppliers. LStand BM189K
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**DF Sep p18 Milk King _Layout 1 09/08/2012 11:56 Page 1
Dairy farm profitability takes drastic nose dive Recent cuts in farmgate milk prices will see profitability for a typical dairy business almost disappear. Richard King of Andersons, Farm Business Consultants, takes us through the financial implications of the depressed returns.
ur model farm, Friesian Farm, produces 1.125 million litres from 150 cows and their replacements. It operates a year-round calving system and crucially it is on a liquid contract, but not a dedicated supermarket aligned contact. Therefore it is one of those farms which has been hit hard by the latest wave of price cuts. The holding runs to 100ha (of which 40ha are rented on an FBT) and the proprietor provides labour along with one full-time worker (plus casual/relief). The table shows the farmâ€™s performance for the previous two milk years based on actual returns and costs. An estimate is given for the current 2012-13 year, and a forecast for 2013-14. Increasing costs and stagnant milk prices meant Friesian Farm had a difficult 2010-11 year, and had to rely on support payments to produce a business surplus. The increase in milk prices during 2011-12 meant the average price for the milk year improved by almost 3ppl. Better beef prices resulted in culls and calves also making a greater contribution to output. Unfortunately the better revenue did not translate directly into higher profits because costs increased. Even so, the farm made a margin before support payments in 2011-12. This needs to be the goal of all farm businesses with such uncertainty over future payment levels due to CAP reform. Turning to the current milk year however, the effect of recent milk price cuts can be clearly seen on the average milk price. It is not the full 3Â˝-4ppl falls seen lately because these have come partway through the milk year. In addition, it is presumed there are some price increases in late
autumn and again in early spring. With global milk commodity prices seemingly firming, the market justification for the recent cuts appears somewhat lacking. It is believed at least part of the cuts will be rescinded before the end of the year. These price increases continue (albeit slowly) through into the 2013-14 milk year.
Estimates Latest estimates for 2012-13 also factor in rising costs â€“ and particularly feed costs. Friesian Farm has a total cost of production (including drawings and some rental payments) of
more than 31ppl. Obviously current prices are not close to this and the farm is forecast to make a considerable loss in terms of its milk production in the current 2012-13 year. Even with support payments, the business only just breaks even. The projected negative margin from production of 2.0ppl is the largest since the Friesian Farm model was begun in 2005. Budgeted costs abate slightly for 2013-14. This is largely due to a forecast fall in feed prices for the winter after next. This is contingent on world cereal and protein markets falling from their
Friesian Farm Figures Pence per litre Milk Culls and calves Output Variable costs Overheads Drawings and tax Rent and finance Cost of Production Margin from production SPS (and ELS) Business surplus
2010-11 (Result) 25.8 2.5 28.3 12.9 10.7 3.7 1.4 28.8 (0.4) 2.4 2.0
2011-12 (Result) 28.6 2.7 31.3 14.1 11.2 3.9 1.4 30.7 0.6 2.3 2.9
2012-13 (Estimated) 26.3 2.9 29.2 14.5 11.4 3.9 1.4 31.2 (2.0) 2.2 0.2
DAIRY FARMER SEPTEMBER 2012
2013-14 (Budget) 27.7 2.8 30.5 14.0 11.5 3.9 1.5 31.1 (0.6) 2.0 1.4
current highs. And with the increases in milk price expected, then the profitability situation improves. However, unless price increases come sooner than we predict, or costs falls are more marked, then this farm still faces a negative margin from production in the next milk year. The farm now faces a situation where milk production will have been loss making in three years out of four.
Results These kinds of results are being replicated on many farms across Great Britain. As a result many dairy businesses will be questioning their future in milk production. The dairy supply chain needs to recognise that higher prices need to be paid to the primary producer if milk supply is to be maintained. Although the business environment is tough, there is a huge range in performance between dairy businesses. Therefore producers need to look to their own management, as well as the market, for profitability improvements. LStand BM222K
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DF_09_P19_DF_09_P19 08/08/2012 12:58 Page 21
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**DF Sep p20 21 22 Milk Gold Cup_Layout 1 10/08/2012 09:15 Page 1
Mastitis control in heifers
Andy Biggs, BVSc MRCVS Vale Veterinary Group There are always mixed feelings when a fresh crop of heifers are calving-in. However, they are the future of the herd, so we need look after them. There are many factors that will determine whether a heifer will contract mastitis before her first lactation. Whilst all these factors are not fully understood, there are a number general principles that will help prevent heifers calving down with mastitis.
Final six go head Six herds from all over the country have made it to the final stages of the NMR/RABDF Gold Cup, and this year’s winner and runner-up will be announced on the first day on the NMR stand.
Flies Don’t feed waste milk to heifer replacements! If it is not good enough to be sold why is it okay to feed to calves? Waste milk from mastitis cases will probably contain mastitis bugs. It is believed that flies can carry Staph. aureus on their legs - so feeding waste milk to calves in close proximity to heifers could result in them becoming infected. Flies also cause irritation and sores to the teats which predisposes heifers to mastitis in general. Remember to start fly control early before flies are active. Pasture In-calf heifers calving at pasture are generally viewed as less of a risk for bacteria like E.coli and Strep. uberis - but are they? Should pasture be considered as a bedding as well as feed? Look at the pasture where your heifers graze. If there are trees providing shelter from torrential rain or blazing sunshine, heifers will ‘camp’ under them - defecating and lying down on this soiled ‘pasture’. Research has shown that dividing the ‘dry’ paddock into three and grazing each third for two weeks can significantly reduce the risk of pasture driven infections. Housing As with all housed dairy cattle, lactating or dry, the risk of intramammary infection in heifers from environmental infections is linked to contamination of the teat end. Housed, in-calf heifers need to be kept in dry, wellventilated housing. Ideally, do not house in-calf heifers and dry cows together, as flies may pose a risk of spreading infections. Herds that can run heifers as a separate group will find significant benefits in terms of lameness, mastitis and fertility, not least because there will be less bullying and competition for space and feed. Heifers that get mastitis soon after calving can be severely affected. Maintain their dry matter intake or they could succumb to other peri-parturient conditions, such as a displaced abomasum. Using a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory (NSAID) such as Metacam® can be useful additional supportive therapy in such severe cases.
GILMOUR LAWRIE – AYRSHIRE
ilmour Lawrie took on the farm at Monkton, Ayr, after the 2001 footand-mouth epidemic and, today, half the 240 Brieryside cows are red-andwhite with the remainder pure Ayrshire. Now farming with his son Kevin (pictured) and in partnership with brother Jim, there are plans to increase numbers to 300 cows on the 445-hectare holding. “The cows are not as big as Holsteins and not as small as Ayrshires, yet I have heifers giving 10,000kg with good butterfat and protein levels,” says Gilmour. “Our current calving index is 418 days and
MILLER FAMILY – EVESHAM
Bacteria ID If you do have mastitis problems in heifers, identify the bacteria first. In herds where a high proportion of heifers are calving-in and are already infected with Strep. uberis, research has shown that using an antibiotic such as Mamyzin® at calving and again a day after can help reduce cell counts and clinical cases1. However, talk to your vet to see if the problem is caused by Strep. uberis and worthy of this approach. It is impractical to think that you can completely avoid cases of mastitis in heifers, but taking a few precautions can significantly help reduce the risk.
References: 1. Kreiger et al (2007) Journal of Dairy Research 74 392–398 Metacam contains meloxicam. Milk for human consumption may only be taken 5 days from the last Metacam treatment. Mamyzin contains penethamate hydriodide. Milk for human consumption may only be taken 108 hours from the last Mamyzin treatment. Advice on the use of Mamyzin, Metacam or other therapies should be sought from your veterinary surgeon. Prescription only medicines. Use Medicines Responsibly (www.noah.co.uk/responsible) Further information available from Boehringer Ingelheim Vetmedica, Bracknell, Berkshire, RG12 8YS, UK. Email: email@example.com. Date of preparation: August 2012. AHD 7276 This article is brought to you by Boehringer Ingelheim Vetmedica, manufacturers of Metacam® and Mamyzin®.
DAIRY FARMER SEPTEMBER 2012
we’re aiming for 400 days,” he says. “Longevity is what I want. If they leave the herd after two lactations they are not making any money. It’s only those doing four lactations and more that start to make a profit,” he adds. The herd’s average for the Gold Cup qualifying year ending September 2011 was 9359kg of milk at 4% fat and 3.37% protein on three times-a-day milking. Cell count averaged 121,000 cells/ml. Margin over concentrate per cow was £1920 and Gilmour hopes to increase that to more than £2000 a head.
to head to secure top place DAVID AND LOUISE HODGSON – CUMBRIA
he 145-cow Wormanby Holstein herd based at Burgh by Sands, in Cumbria, is bred for longevity and David and Louise Hodgson (pictured with Harry and Margaret Hodgson) have up to 40 newly-calved heifers for sale annually. For the qualifying Gold Cup year ending September 2011, the herd averaged 10,761kg of milk at 3.76% fat and 3.12% protein on twice-a-day milking.
“We believe that if you are breeding the right type of cows and you feed them correctly, the milk will follow. The aim is for cows to achieve 50,000kg within five lactations. Currently there are 40 EX cows in the herd with 70 VG and 30 GP cows. Margin over purchased feed over the 12 months to March 2012 has increased by 15% to £2120 a cow. The current cell count is 128,000/ml with a Bactoscan of 23.
JUDGES ■ The six NMR/RABDF Gold Cup finalists will be judged by David Cotton, chairman RABDF; Bryan Thomas, ex-director, NMR; and 2009 Gold Cup winner Geoff Spence.
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ENTRY CRITERIA ■ The Gold Cup is open to all milk recorded herds meeting the qualifying criteria that they have more than 100 qualifying lactations in the milking herd, an annual somatic cell count average of 200,000cells/ml or less – or less than 400,000cells/ml for organic herds – and a minimum £PLI.
Persistency against stomach, lung and gut worm (Cooperia) plus a lice free housing guarantee.1,2 Advice on the use of this or alternative medicines must be sought from the medicine prescriber. 1
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ike and Shan Miller and sons Steven and Paul (pictured) run the 320-cow Shanael herd on the 336ha tenanted unit and were runners-up in last year’s competition. Impatient to increase cow numbers, the Millers are in the process of purchasing animals from quality pedigree herds. “We look at type and production carefully and only buy BVD and IBR vaccinated stock from Johne’s free herds,” says Paul. NMR annual average production for the Gold Cup qualifying year ending September 2011 is 12,199kg of milk, 535kg higher than the previous year, with 3.6% fat and 3.08% protein on three times-a-day milking. Calving interval is 410 days. “We’ve made a real effort to improve fertility with more aggressive heat detection and routine vet visits every two weeks, and also by monitoring individual cows and trends through InterHerd,” he says.
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Data sheet for Dectomax, Ivermectin and Moxidectin, 2012 (excluding long acting formulations). Lice-free guarantee: cattle must be treated with Dectomax Pour-On either during the five weeks before housing or the four weeks following housing. All in-contact animals must be treated within a 21-day period. No animal in the treated group can have contact with other cattle. All animals in the treatment group must be kept permanently in the same enclosure throughout the winter housing period. Personnel moving between untreated and treated groups must take precautions to avoid cross-contamination.
DAIRY FARMER SEPTEMBER 2012
**DF Sep p20 21 22 Milk Gold Cup_Layout 1 08/08/2012 19:01 Page 3
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NEIL CHRISTENSEN – SOMERSET
eil Christensen milks 517 Holstein cows at Steanbow Farms, Somerset, where he farms in partnership with his father Finn and his brother Michael (pictured). With 200ha of pasture taken up by the famous Glastonbury Festival each summer, the family made a drastic change to the farm strategy about five years ago – and have not looked back. They opted to house the cows all year round, and changed the dry cow ration to combat high potassium levels in the grass. The cows are split into five groups, with dry cows fed on maize silage and straw. “If we
feed just 2kg of grass we get problems with milk fever and cystic ovaries,” says Neil. “The soil indices would be great for arable land, but they are very challenging for the dairy.”
TIM GUE – WEST SUSSEX
Production in the qualifying year to September 2011 for the herd averaged 10,521kg of milk at 3.78% fat and 3.13% protein on three-times-a-day milking. Cell counts averaged 104,000 cells/ml.
MATTHEW ROWE – CORNWALL
he Huddlestone pedigree herd, based at Steyning in West Sussex, has increased in size to its current 400 cows and the Gues are no strangers to the final stages of the competition – they’ve been here twice before. The herd calves from August through to April and is fed a TMR all year round. Average production stands at 11,058kg of milk – around 250kg per cow more than in 2011 – at 3.82% butterfat and 3.12% protein on three-times-a-day milking. Average cell count for the year ending September 2011 was 117,000 cells/ml. Herd PLI is 77 – one of the highest among this year’s Gold Cup finalists – and calving interval is 400 days. “We’re not chasing yields, despite the increase and the high figures,” explains Tim. “And we’ve altered our breeding policy from chasing index to focus more on better fertility and longevity, along with sound conformation and production,” he says.
atthew Rowe milks 360 cows in partnership with his parents at Tredinnick Farms, near Liskeard, Cornwall. “We’re aiming to increase to 400 cows by Christmas, and have invested quite a lot in breeding replacements,” he says. The Holstein herd averages between 3.2 and four lactations. In the qualifying year, ending September 2011, they averaged 8956kg of milk at 4.13% fat and 3.22% protein on twice-a-day milking. Cell count is 189,000 cells/ml and Bactoscan is 30. “We’re trying to increase to between 9500 and 10,000kg during the next 12 to 18 months – if we can get better health and longevity it will boost our yields.” The cows calve all year round, and were recently separated into new groups, comprising dry cows, heifers and older cows. “It’s made a huge difference and because the heifers are not being bullied by the older cows they are a lot more content, they’re milking better and their feet are better,” he says.
NMR RABDF Gold Cup finalists – details for year ending September 2011
Tim Gue H M & D Hodgson Lawrie Bros N Christensen Mike Miller J & J M Rowe
Holstein Holstein Ayrshire Holstein Holstein Holstein
Qualifying lactations 328 100 149 419 218 290
11,058 10,761 9359 10,521 12,199 8956
3.82 3.76 4.00 3.78 3.60 4.13
3.12 3.12 3.37 3.13 3.08 3.22
DAIRY FARMER SEPTEMBER 2012
SCC ‘000/ml 117 156 121 104 176 189
Calving interval (days) 408 425 424 387 415 410
PLI (£) 77 38 66 40 33 33
Times milked 3 2 2 3 3 2
DF_09_P23_DF_09_P23 09/08/2012 12:55 Page 21
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**DF Sep p24 Milk Promar_Layout 1 08/08/2012 19:06 Page 1
Long term prospects set to give ray of optimism In the current environment it may be difficult to see many positives on the horizon, but Promar senior consultant Tim Harper believes there are some seeds of optimism.
he UK dairy sector has emerged from milk price crises in the past. However for many producers, the extent of the current fall, combined with poor forage quality and high feed prices, means the current impact is being felt hard. So what might be the positives? Globally, demand for milk is increasing, driven by the BRIC countries. This is reflected in general long term upward trends in global commodity prices. The graph shows the trend in whole milk powder prices, and the picture for other commodities shows a similar pattern. The FAO is predicting a
decade of high prices, but with greater volatility. These trends should work their way through to farm gate prices, and there are already signs that spot prices are increasing. Looking forward, they will be influenced further by the impact of higher feed prices in countries using high feed input systems and by the weather conditions in the new production season in Australia and New Zealand. The UK is unique among global milk producing countries in that there is a huge reliance on the fresh liquid market. This market has a demand for a level seasonal output of milk with its
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inherently higher production costs and investment requirements. This in part has created some of the current imbalance. As global demand for dairy products grows, so there will be opportunities to help meet this demand by increasing exports. Historically the unique nature of our domestic milk market has contributed to the dairy sector failing to fully exploit export opportunities. The plans of Milk Link/Arla to export more British cheese are certainly an encouraging sign and hopefully other initiatives will follow. Producers supplying dairy products for the global market can learn from other farming sectors, such as the arable sector, where farmers have developed contracts with their customers that allow the more efficient management of volatile pricing. The UK is usually well placed to produce milk from forage. In the event the increase in purchased feed costs continues, it will be essential to optimise the total contribution that forage can make through the role of mixed forages, improving forage quality and driving forage intakes. Talk about high yield herds in
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DAIRY FARMER SEPTEMBER 2012
Tim Harper: global demand. US and the picture people have is of highly concentrate dependent systems. But the US has been hit by higher purchased feed costs too and farmers have responded by driving forage intakes, so many units are now achieving very high output with 60% forage in total DM. So just think that there are opportunities to drive production from forage. There is no doubt that there is no silver bullet which will solve the current crisis in dairying farming, but there may be a few rays of sunlight to suggest that there may be seeds for a small degree of optimism!
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**DF Sep p26 Breeding Show_Layout 1 08/08/2012 19:06 Page 1
NEWS 2 BREEDING
Getting cattle into top form for the show ring Getting cattle to be at their peak in the show ring demands a lot of careful preparation. Jeremy Hunt talks to one leading Cumbrian showman about how he goes about it.
rize cards and silverware may be the immediate pay-off for success in the show ring, but exhibiting cattle continues to be the best possible means of promotion for pedigree breeders. So it is little wonder those on the show circuit are convinced the time and effort that goes into getting an animal ‘at 12 o’clock’ on the day is well worthwhile. Cumbria Holstein breeder Mark Wilson knows only too well how much preparation is involved in getting cattle ready to take on top ranking competition. His own Hailstone herd near Appleby is no stranger to success having enjoyed wins with cattle on their regular appearances at the Great Yorkshire Show and Northern Expo. “Anyone interested in starting to show cattle can do no better than spend plenty of time listening, watching and learning from other more experienced exhibitors to make sure they know exactly what’s involved in getting a cow or heifer just right for the day – and standing a chance of being in the line-up,” says Mr Wilson. No matter how good the cattle or how thorough the
We never keep any of the show cattle on their own. It just makes them go sulky. Mark Wilson
preparation has been, any animal not able to cope with the hustle and bustle of a show, or that is phased by being in the show ring, is sure to have a very short career. So plenty of halter training around the farm to prepare potential show animals for the ring is essential. “A lot of show cattle have been to calf shows so any temperamental issues should have been spotted early on. Anything that can’t cope with the occasion will never make the best of itself.”
Calved heifers Ideally, calved heifers should be about two months calved to look their best in the ring, but Mr Wilson always keeps his potential show cattle in the cubicle shed with the rest of the herd. “We never keep any of the show cattle on their own. It just makes them go sulky. They’re far better off left with everything else. “We don’t give them any special treatment apart from giving them extra feed. Getting the diet right is one of the most important parts of showing cattle,” he explains. His extra twice-daily feeds are a mix containing beet pulp and calf mixture. “The aim is to get the shine and the bloom on them and open the rib up to fill them out. Once that regime is underway they should march on from there until show day. “But we make sure anything we’re going to show in the spring and summer gets turned out for a while after a winter inside before we start any extra feeding. They need to stretch out and walk about even if it’s just for a fortnight. It makes a big difference,” says Mr Wilson. Working ‘backwards’ from the show day is important so the
Mark Wilson with show winner Hailstone Talent Maybelle. programme of preparation can be tailored to fit the time scale. While show condition comes from within rather than from anything that can be applied to the coat, washing cows every fortnight in the run up to a show keeps the coat clean and stimulates new growth and helps develop the bloom. “We give them a full clip about three weeks before the show and the hair which grows back is really the young, bloomy hair you want for the show ring. We don’t use anything special for washing – just a basic cattle shampoo.” But while there is skill in knowing how an individual carries her milk and how she has to be milked in the hours leading up to her walking into the ring, Mr Wilson says the udder has to be naturally balanced. “If the four-quarters aren’t even she shouldn’t even be going to the show in the first place,” he says. He pays close attention of potential show cows as they come in for milking at both ends of the day. Seeing how much milk they need to carry every day gives you a good idea about
DAIRY FARMER SEPTEMBER 2012
how you’re going to milk them to make sure the udder looks its best on the day. “We might need 12 hours of milk on the front quarter and 14 hours on the rear quarter to make an animal look her best. We’d never leave any milk in a quarter, just adjust the periods between milking to suit the cow’s udder and clip the udder the day before the show.”
Walking Mr Wilson says a show cow or heifer must not have an udder which is over-full to the extent that the weight of milk being carried is affecting the way she walks. “You don’t want an animal that looks as though it’s walking through itself all the time,” he says. But winning a class certainly does not mean it is time to relax. “That can often really pile on the pressure because you might win a class in the morning and not be in the championship until hours later, or be in a group class at the end of the judging. So that is why it is important not to over-cook them because they must be able to carry their milk comfortably.”
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**DF Sep p28 Red Calf_Layout 1 09/08/2012 11:58 Page 1
NEWS 2 BREEDING
Red calf is ‘genuine one-off’
calf to be featured in the AI companies area of Livestock 2012 has been described by breeding specialists as a ’genuine one-off’. The calf is thought to be the only red-and-white daughter in the world of the black-and-white Holstein bull, Golden-Oaks ST Alexander EX94. It is normally essential for a red-and-white Holstein to inherit a copy of the red factor gene from both of its parents, but this heifer calf’s red colouration comes from just one side of her pedigree. And while she has inherited her rich red coat from her dam, the calf – Panda Lexander Fools Gold Red – is also said to feature the attributes of her sire, which is well-known for his high type credentials. The nine-month-old calf will be the star attraction on the Dairy Daughters stand, where her owner, 21-year-old Molly Westwood, will also be on duty. Molly’s family run an elite herd
Stoneden Fools Gold Red – dam of Molly Westwood’s Alexander calf. of Holstein heifers on their farm on Exmoor, where Molly herself works with the cattle every morning and evening when she’s not undertaking her ‘day job’ at the Dairy Daughters office. Having worked for several years for the renowned Morsan herd in Alberta, Canada, Molly returned home in early 2011 with five embryos from her favourite
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cow in the herd. “The cow I selected was Stoneden Fools Gold Red as she was a personal favourite,” says Molly. “So I selected a bull for the flush and we implanted the embryos in our recipient heifers back at home in Somerset.”
Sire “I chose Alexander as the sire for the flush after seeing many daughters around Canada,” she continues. “It was the stylishness of every single daughter that caught my eye every time. And with his traditional sire stack I also knew he’d make a great outcross to use on the modern Goldwyn and Shottle bloodlines.” Producing five live calves from the five embryos was a remarkable achievement, and other highlights of the flush include two show sisters. A black heifer, Panda Alexa Fools Gold, gained first and honourable mention in the junior champion-
ship at the Bath and West Show, and first and junior champion at the Three Counties Show, 2012. And another black sister, Panda Allyander Fools Gold, was placed second to her sister at the Bath and West Show where she was also champion handler calf, and took the reserve championship handler calf at the Three Counties Show 2012. On both occasions Molly was at the helm. “The red gene carried through this family is known as ‘variant red’ and is not the much more common red recessive gene,” explains Molly. “Variant red is dominant over black and white, so if an animal carries just one gene (VR carrier status) it will be coloured red. “But because most variant red animals only carry one VR gene, around half their progeny will be red and white and half will be black and white when bred to a black-and-white bull,” she says. “This is great news for red and white enthusiasts as it gives them a 50:50 chance of producing red and white progeny without the need to breed from a red-andwhite bull. “Choosing red-and-white bulls can compromise other aspects of breeding but this gene opens the way for top black-and-white bloodlines to be used to produce red-and-whites,” she says. Using Alexander for this flush is a case in point, according to Molly. “I knew he was a serious bull as I’d seen so many daughters, but I’d no idea I would end up taking a job with Dairy Daughters and selling Alexander among their suite of bulls.” LStand GE033K
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DAIRY FARMER SEPTEMBER 2012
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**DF Sep p30 Breeding Collars_Layout 1 08/08/2012 19:07 Page 1
NEWS 2 BREEDING
Bull selector now covers five breeds
Improved heat detection through activity collars is one of the quickest ways to lift reproductive efficiency.
Activity collar will help detection rate
or a great many UK dairy herds, improving submission rates through better heat detection will be the quickest route to improving reproductive efficiency and greater profitability. This is according to Cogent Group’s Michael Jones, who says pregnancy rate should be a key measure of improvement and success. “Pregnancy rate indicates the percentage of cows which become pregnant every 21 days, after the voluntary waiting period,” he says. “It is calculated by multiplying submission rate (heat detection rate) by the conception rate. Unlike other measures of herd fertility, pregnancy rate tells the whole story – if it is improving then your profitability should be too because you will have less reproductive culling, more calves born per year, and you will be
producing more milk overall due to cows being at peak lactation more often.” And, he adds, improving submission rates is something which is within the grasp of most producers. “Submission rates have been falling over the last 20 years, from 71% in 1993 to just 45% in 2007, and yet the target of 7580% is in my view very achievable.”
Correct use “This may seem like a giant leap, but correct use of an effective activity monitor can achieve submission rates of 85-90%. Despite this, fewer than one in five herds in the UK use and kind of activity monitor for heat detection, and this is a lost opportunity.” This is why Cogent has just launched a new precision breeding tool called PinPoint,
which incorporates a state-ofthe-art activity monitor alongside herd fertility analysis. One 300-cow herd in Somerset has been trialling the system with activity monitor collars fitted in June to the 8000 litres, all-year-round calving herd which is at grass during the summer. “In the 21 days prior to installing the system, only 32 cows were presented for service equating to a 37% submission rate and then a pregnancy rate of 11%,” he explains. “This was increased to 62 cows served in the 21 days after the system had been installed giving a submission rate of 71% and a huge rise in pregnancy rate to 21%. “This is a significant improvement and I would expect a return on their investment in less than 18 months,” he says. LStand GE010K
DAIRY FARMER SEPTEMBER 2012
HOLSTEIN UK has relaunched an advanced version of its Bull Selector programme. The original system was developed during the 90s and the latest version is available for Holstein, British Friesian, Ayrshire, Guernsey and Jersey breeds. Holstein UK’s Simon Gee says: “The programme is free and available to pedigree and non-pedigree breeders. It includes all bulls actively available throughout the UK. AI companies only have to inform Holstein UK of a bull’s available status and it will be included in the system. This includes all domestic and foreign listed sires. “It is not a mating programme – it’s an advanced sire selection tool. It’s simple and easy to use and allows farmers to take informed breeding decisions. “Having access via the internet allows farmers and herd managers to screen potential sires on a 24/7 basis. In a couple of steps, herd criteria can be set into two main categories, namely functional type and production and management parameters.” Initial ranking is based on Holstein UK Type Merit and PLI respectively. However, the listings can be easily reranked by clicking on any of the available column headings. “The listings can be further refined by selecting options such as ‘tested red/red carriers’ or available as ‘sexed-semen’. Farmers can also exclude specific recessive gene carriers. It can also incorporate genomic sire information and provides criteria on animal health and welfare such as locomotion score and SCC. Ayrshire and British Red-andWhite breeders are increasingly aware of the importance of providing sire listings tailored toward specific breeding, registration and genetic goals. It is hoped the latest advanced system will include Shorthorn bulls in due course. LLivestock HallK
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NEWS 2 BREEDING
Genomics are starting to play part in sire selection
enomics is already transforming cattle breeding and leading to more profitable bulls which are suited to the challenges of UK dairy production. The first commercial genomic bulls appeared in the US in 2009 when genetics company CRI’s Genex introduced bulls such as Loydie, Massey and Super. Now just three-and-a-half years later, a growing number of UK farmers are using genomic bulls with the support of the genomic bull index launched in April. Genomics uses a calf’s DNA to predict its breeding potential instead of waiting more than five years for a full progeny proof. This speeds up the breeding process, allowing farmers to benefit from the best genetics available earlier. Work in the US has found the reliability of a
proof based on its pedigree information alone was 36%, but for genomic bulls the reliability doubled to 70%. CRI genetics are marketed in the UK by Bullsemen.com. Managing director Nick Kirby explains the rapid impact genomics has had. “The uptake of genomics was dramatic. Nearly a third of CRI’s sales in the first month it sold genomic semen were from genomic bulls. Now, 70% of its Holstein sales are from genomic sires,” he says.
Investment CRI has invested millions of dollars in its own genomic breeding herd called GENESIS. It consists of 12,500 cows and tests 500 bulls. The results from that herd are already proving the worth of genomics. US cows are judged by the Lifetime Net Merit system – similar to the UK’s PLI system. In
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the US’ April bull run there were 110 GENESIS bulls which transitioned from genomic only evaluation to daughter-proven evaluation. They showed a +$3 increase in LNM. Meanwhile, the 2123 genomic bulls from across the country showed a marginal decrease in LNM of just -$29. One of the first batch of CRI genomic bulls making an impact in the UK is Massey. The Mascol x Bret x Manfred Holstein bull appeared in the top 20 of all bulls in his first daughter proof run. His PLI was £202 and PIN £38. At the same time, he was the highest new entry in the US’s TPI list, joining five other genomic CRI bulls in the top 10. “Massey is improving all the time. In the US in August 2011 his TPI was 2115 – that had risen to 2126 by December 2011 and to 2244 in April this year,” says Mr Kirby, who has been marketing the bull in the UK for the last three years. “I believe it is bulls such as
Massey that can help to convince the industry of the value and reliability of genomic proofs. Nearly 10% of all our customer purchases are now genomic bulls, while 29% of the bulls we offer are genomic. As more results become available and farmers become more familiar with the technology, then the majority of bulls will be bred this way,” predicts Mr Kirby. David Williamson, of the Snelson Holstein herd in Cheshire, was an early genomics adopter using his first genomic bull in early 2010. “I was impressed by how accurate the genomic prediction was,” says Mr Williamson. “I think that the technology has the potential to allow us to improve breeding more quickly and efficiently. “However, I think it is important that genomic proofs give details of all type scores as well as production scores,” he says. LStand GE027K
Reliabilities comparing traditional to genomic predicted transmitting ability Livestock 2012 Stand LH-609
Phone: 01458 850269 M.R.I. Secretary Nicki Ford 01531 890730
Daughter of the Mascol x Bret x Manfred sire Massey who is one of the first CRI genomic bulls in the UK.
Trait Net Merit Milk Fat % Protein % Source: CRI
DAIRY FARMER SEPTEMBER 2012
Traditional 37% 39% 39% 39%
Reliability Genomic 69% 74% 74% 74%
Genomic gain 32% 35% 35% 35%
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3 FORAGE & GRASSLAND
Double layered silage sheeting
ew double layered silage sheeting which combines conventional black polyethylene film and a transparent under-layer (to act as an oxygen barrier) is said to more effectively preserve silage and reduce the labour cost of sheeting. Polydress O2 Barrier 2in1 is said to be the first dual layered silage sheeting supplied on one roll and can be laid in one process. Within a short time of being laid, the lower vacuum film is designed to separate from the top film as it absorbs moisture from the silage, and in the process is sucked down on to the forage to create an airtight seal. Manufactured by RKW ProAgri in Germany, the sheeting is claimed to create a six to 10 times improved oxygen barrier –
depending on the product previously used – and rapidly create anaerobic conditions in the clamp. “The use of only one film instead of two yields advantages in terms of transportation, storage and labour input,” says Andy Strzelecki from Kelvin Cave which markets the product. “With 40% less raw materials and 50% less packaging required in production, the film also makes an important contribution to environmental protection and sustainability, and saves costs for waste disposal.” The product can also be separated into the different components for recycling, and since it weighs 40% less than a conventional two-sheet system, recycling or disposal costs are said to be reduced. LStand MA506K
Forage crop advisory service for producers THE NIAB TAG Network, which supplies technical and advisory services to the arable sector, has added a mixed farming option to its portfolio of subscription-based packages. Through the service, relevant crop information will be supplied to livestock farmers. The new service will be complemented by the development of NIAB TAG’s first Forage Crop Centre. Based near Dartington in Devon, the Centre provides a focal point for the expansion of the organisation’s research into grass, clover and forage maize.
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Ben Freer from NIAB TAG said: “It will help transfer the benefits of improved grass, clover and forage maize varieties, and new developments in forage crop agronomy, effectively onto livestock and mixed farms by providing succinct guidelines and advice on forage and arable crop agronomy management.” Research results and advice will
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DAIRY FARMER SEPTEMBER 2012
be delivered through various routes including member-only events and field days and the NIAB TAG Network’s interactive website. Members will also benefit from a set of new forage specific inhouse publications, including pasture management strategies and bulletins on forage maize dry matter development and grass variety heading dates. The subscription package also provides guidelines on the agronomy of combinable crops, geared specifically to members managing both livestock and arable crops. The NIAB TAG Network already provides variety and agronomy information, advice and support to more than 2800 UK arable growers, advisors and industry clients and its members fund the largest, and longest running, independent variety and agronomy dataset and trials programme in the UK with more than 7500 crop plots. LStand FF462K
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**DF Sep p34 36 38 Forage_Layout 1 08/08/2012 19:10 Page 2
3 FORAGE & GRASSLAND
Lick to help reduce risk from young lush grass
Ultra early maize debut
he drive for maize varieties which can be planted late and harvested early sees the launch this season of a new ultra early from KWS. Called Recolt KWS, the variety has an FAO number of 160, which makes it even earlier than Kentaurus, the most recent big seller from the company in this category. “Ultra earlies are increasing in popularity because with their later planting and earlier harvests they can help growers
meet their cross-compliance requirements,” says Julie Goult from KWS. And to have earliness with excellent feed quality and good yields is a big step forward, she said. Recolt was described as having better vigour, being slightly earlier and higher yielding, and having better feed value per tonne than Kentaurus. It was recommended by KWS for use alongside Kentaurus, Ramirez or Severus in 2013.
A NUTRITIONAL activator block called Nutrifix Herb will be launched at Livestock 2012 which is said to maximise the benefits while reducing the risks associated with consuming young, fresh grass. Grass which is low in fibre but high in residual nitrogen is known to impair both digestion and productivity for a variety of reasons, partly connected to excesses of nitrogen and the production of ammonia in the rumen – a process which is wasteful and elevates urea levels in both urine and milk. The Nutrifix Herb lick contains plant extracts which are said to decrease the population and activity of protozoa which would otherwise produce ammonia through the digestion of bacteria. The block’s mineral ‘captors’ are also said to bind the ammonia excess into a form that may be released for more efficient
digestion at a later time. As such, the lick is said to assist the cow in maintaining the optimum rumen pH for nitrogen assimilation and utilisation leading to the efficient and costeffective use of forages and feeds. Built on a base of the calcified seaweed product, Calseagrit, the lick is high in calcium, magnesium and sodium and includes traces of zinc, manganese, copper, iodine, cobolt and selenium as well as vitamin E. LStand FF388K
Guide to help select the right maize MAIZE growers looking for guidance can get the latest information on variety performance from Limagrain’s Maize Variety Selection Guide for 2013. This includes data on
DAIRY FARMER SEPTEMBER 2012
the company’s own and competitor varieties, and includes for the first time the new LG varieties Ambition, Activate and Yukon. Last year’s guide proved to be exceptionally popular with maize growers as it presented variety performance data in a series of easy to understand scattergrams, allowing quick comparisons between varieties. Available free from Limagrain. LStand FF438K
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3 FORAGE & GRASSLAND
Mobile phone app set to determine forage acidity
company which specialises in producing alkaline feeds to reduce rumen pH has launched the first app to help determine a diet’s acid loading. Designed for use on smart phones and also available as a web-based application, the new Alkalator App from FiveF will use the analysis of a forage to determine its expected acid loading so that farmers can mitigate against the risk of acidosis. “Until now, farmers have not had a quick and easy way of assessing the base acid load coming from their forages,” says Malcolm Graham from FiveF. But now he says the app or web-based programme will allow them to key in the latest analysis of all their forages, stipulate the rate of their inclusion in the diet, and establish the overall diet’s
acid loading – be it very high, high, medium or low. A traffic light system will reinforce the message, with bright red diets being in need of neutralisation and green diets likely to be at a suitable pH for feeding as they are. “Once you have a better appreciation of the base acid load from your forages, you can then take the necessary steps to neutralise the damaging effect in the rumen before it happens, by formulating in levels of an alkaline dietary component such as AlkabupHa or feeding more alkaline forages such as alkalage or alkagrain,” he says. The Alkalator App is free of charge and is available as a download file from the FiveF website or to run on android mobile phones. An iPhone version is under development. LStand FF407K
Varieties for biogas feed THE demand for maize for biogas production is the biggest growth area for the crop and in response KWS has launched two new biogas varieties for 2013. Expecting these to be taken up by livestock producers as well as arable farmers, the company says the high dry matter yields of these varieties are essential to maximise methane production. The new varieties – Barros and Cassilas – are expected to
challenge Fabregas, the market leader in the biogas sector, and have the potential to bring bigger yields of 60-70 tonnes per hectare. Both are said to have superb early vigour (rated 8 and 9 respectively) and while Barros is a mid-early variety (FAO 250), the slightly higher yielding Cassilas (FAO 260) is likely to be harvested later. LStand AH165K
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TWO new maize varieties have been launched for next season by Pioneer, one exclusively for forage use and the other with the potential to be harvested as forage or grain. Coded P7524 and P7905 respectively, both varieties are categorised as early maturing, both are said to be high yielding – comparing favourably with the company’s existing headline
DAIRY FARMER SEPTEMBER 2012
variety Justina – and both are suitable for favourable sites. Also new from the company this year is the silage inoculant Pioneer 11AFT, which is specifically for use in lucerne. Described as a ‘fibre technology’ inoculant, it is said to contain bacteria unique to the company and to break lignin bonds and improve digestibility LStand FF453K
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4 HEALTH & NUTRITION
Whole farm approach to hygiene problems
eosan has launched a new holistic approach to farm hygiene through which the company will advise producers on all hygiene issues related to their farm. Through a service called Deosan Farm Intelligence, they will use their team of hygiene specialists to offer a complete assessment of practices to get to the root of hygiene-related problems. Recipients of the service are expected to buy all their dairy chemicals from Deosan, and in return will be provided with a best practice hygiene plan. Describing the service, which will be launched at Livestock 2012, Rob Kelly from Deosan said the focus would be on treating hygiene as an investment, rather than a cost. Citing a typical 100 cow herd, he said a £1200 spend on chemicals could bring a £7000
Dangers of slurry gas A SCIENTIFIC trial assessing the anaerobic digestion of four cow bedding materials in slurry has concluded gypsum produces the highest level of hydrogen sulphide gas. The Envirosystems trial evaluated gases produced from slurry when gypsum, lime ash, straw/sawdust and Envirobed were used in cow cubicles.
Gas production Slurry carrying lime ash had a very high pH, which also affected gas production. The trial concluded adding bedding material to slurry can affect production of hydrogen sulphide and methane yield. Farmers with anaerobic digestion system were less likely to inhibit profits from Feed-in Tariffs when Envirobed was used as a bedding. LStand FF472K
says, would get to problems before they occurred. Pricing would not be two-tier and the farmer would pay the same as he does now for his chemicals. “The commitment from Deosan will be in return for the commitment from the farmer,” he said. “If he buys our chemicals, we will challenge ourselves with a return on that investment.”
return through savings on bills such as electricity and water, and through the capture of cell count and Bactoscan bonuses. A pro-active approach, he
Asked about the magnitude of the undertaking, he said: “We have a wealth of technical people in the field who will engage, for example, with vets and milking machine specialists and ensure the advice they are giving is consistent with theirs. “We are not claiming to be experts in veterinary medicine or milking machines, but we are experts in dairy hygiene.” LStand AH147K
NEWS IN BRIEF Free gifts and prizes Visitors to Livestock 2012 will have the chance to win a DeLaval DCC somatic cell counter by entering a competition run by Boehringer Ingelheim, the company behind Ubrolexin and Bovikalc. The counter is said to be provide instant and accurate somatic cell count readings in less than a minute. Visitors can also pick up a voucher on the stand, entitling them to a free stainless steel applicator (worth £42) for the Bovikalc calcium bolus. This is redeemable on each purchase of 24 boluses from their usual supplier. LStand AH168K
Farm Health Planning Farm Health Planning seminars will be staged again this year, where farmers and their vets will team up to address a particular health challenge they have had to confront. Key issues under scrutiny will be mastitis, fertility, lameness, fluke and IBR. LAnimal Health ZoneK
Best practice housing guide launched DAIRYCO has launched a new guide to dairy housing which covers a range of management systems and all ages of stock. Highlighting legal and welfare regulations, Dairy Housing – a best practice guide, has been developed in collaboration with recognised industry experts and in partnership with Morrisons and Arla. The publication supersedes the DairyCo housing guide from 2006 and highlights the latest welfare and legislative requirements. Also featuring topics such as cow comfort and behaviour, lighting, ventilation and biosecurity, it covers a range of building types. These include cubicles, straw yards, kennels and some newer building designs, such as round houses. It also includes a range of specific building layout examples and worked calculations. The guide will be officially
launched at Livestock 2012 and free copies can be ordered by phone on 02476 478 702 or downloaded from the DairyCo website – www.dairyco.org.uk. LStand AH118K
DAIRY FARMER SEPTEMBER 2012
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4 HEALTH & NUTRITION TechTalk by Rosebeck Set Mastitis Goals - Plan Ahead Seek Advice The farm gate milk price and the action taken by dairy farmers is the biggest headline right now. Unity amongst milk producers is thankfully strong and everyone connected to the industry is desperate for a positive outcome. Hard then perhaps to look too far ahead, yet I feel this is exactly what is required. If a milk quality bonus is available, then you must put yourself in a strong position to take advantage of it. As far as milk hygiene is concerned the top 10 to 15% of farms get there NOT by chance but by the dedication and desire of management to be the best. They may not work harder than the average farmer, they may just work smarter and study causes and effects more closely. Knowing your enemy is important if you want to understand the best approach to mastitis control. How are the problematic pathogens on your farm affecting results? Studying seasonal bulk tank SCC trends and looking at peak periods where clinical rates always seem to increase are all part of assessing risk and contribute to building a plan to combat the effects on cows and milk price. Losing 0.5 pence/litre due to a quality band slip or having to tip too much antibiotic milk away will cost far more than investing an extra £5 to £10/ cow/annum to build in new and improved hygiene regimes or invest in better germicides. You cannot take away the cane that beats the milk price down but having a considered plan can be like the comic book down the back of your shorts; it won’t hurt as much! Look at your housing; a clean dry bed will reduce the cross spread of infection and boost cow comfort. Only consider proven and Biocidal Products Directive (BPD) compliant products. Look at your germicides; a quality VMD licensed product with relevant trial proof will consistently outperform low cost alternatives in terms of efficacy and reducing mastitis levels. Ask for the trial results and evidence of BPD and VMD compliance and approval. There is a lot of free help and advice out there if you look. Log in to our own website to download your FREE guide to managing mastitis, available from September 2012. Neil can be contacted by email: email@example.com For further information call Rosebeck Services on 01642 718814 or visit www.rosebeckservices.co.uk
Test for low risk herds to keep on top of Johne’s
MR has launched a new tracking tool for Johne’s disease which will automatically select and test 30 cows for the disease every quarter. This HerdTracker service is particularly appropriate for herds where the risk of Johne’s is thought to be low. The 30 cows designated for testing each month will be those with the greatest likelihood of having Johne’s, as identified by a recent trial undertaken at the University of Reading. This study revealed that cows in lactations three to six were twice as likely to have Johne’s than cows of other ages, while high cell count cows were also more likely to be positive for the disease. Similarly, lame, mastitic and cows still open at 100 days post-partum were also more likely to test positive. Using this information in their HerdTracker service, NMR will identify the highest risk cows and test these as part of the 30-cow surveillance group. “The 30-cow screen is a bit like an early warning,” said Steve West (pictured) from NMR, launching the service. Other benefits he said were its ease of use since no cow selection was necessary
by the farmer or vet, there was no additional sampling if the herd was NMR recorded, and results could be sent to the producer or vet as required. However, he said: “It must be remembered those herds with average or high levels of Johne’s are advised to adopt individual cow level tests and risk-based management using quarterly testing for the whole herd.” NMR’s auto 30-cow screening service is expected to cost around £85 as an ad-hoc option, or £280 a year in the HerdTracker routine surveillance service, which includes four 30-cow screens. LStand BM194K
Better balancing of barrier with parlour feeds to save on costs THE ‘Smart Dairy Nutrition’ concept and a new range of feeds which has been specifically formulated for use in the ‘partial mixed ration’ situation has been launched by BOCM Pauls. Designed to balance a mixed ration fed at the barrier with concentrates fed in the parlour, the range is said to satisfy key nutrient requirements, prevent oversupply and nutrient wastage, and ultimately save costs. The new feeds comprise a compound range called MilkTec, a blend range called BlendTec, and a mineral range called MinTec. “In many PMR systems, farmers are supplying nutrients such as protein, vitamins, minerals and trace elements at the barrier, and then also in the compound feed,” said Nick Berni, BOCM
DAIRY FARMER SEPTEMBER 2012
Pauls ruminant product manager. “The challenge for most dairy farmers is feeding a herd of cows that vary greatly in their energy status, days in milk, lactation number and pregnancy status. “The benefit of this ‘Smart Dairy Nutrition’ approach is it enables farmers to feed a basal ration topped up with feed in the parlour according to individual cow needs. “As a result, this would generate onfarm savings, while being environmentally friendly,” he says. “With pressure to use nutrients more efficiently in feeding, manure and slurry management, and with the impact of milk price volatility, it is now more important than ever to optimise the use of these valuable resources.” LStand FF400K
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4 HEALTH & NUTRITION NEWS IN BRIEF The latest on feeding Alternatives to soya, developing best practice for heifer rearing, and links between metabolic disease and poor fertility are just some of the subjects to be discussed in the Feed Science Forums. LFeeds and Forage ZoneK
Business debates This year’s business debates will cover how to add additional livestock enterprises, diversify or make a fresh start. They will also include farm assurance, the new professional register for dairy farmers, opportunities and innovation in the sector, and what differentiates the most successful dairy farmers. LBusiness Management ZoneK
Foot trimming Demonstrations will be staged four times a day and feature the most popular techniques, supported by independent commentary with additional information on locomotion. LAdjacent to Livestock HallK
Recognition of training
programme of continuing professional development will be launched at Livestock 2012 which aims to recognise and elevate the level of skills across the dairy industry. The scheme, called DairyPro, has been built around a professional development register on which the achievements of individuals – both farmers and farm workers – will be recorded. The register will feature training providers and events, covering a wide range of disciplines from grassland management and nutrition to business management and legislation. The programme is built around the allocation of points, which are awarded at specified events, in accordance with their duration and level of participation. By building up their points, participants can illustrate their level of competence as either an employee or employer. The scheme is being run by Basis, which has operated a similar
scheme for many years in the pesticides industry. It has been devised and implemented by an industry steering group and funding comes from DairyCo and the Residual Milk Marketing Board. “We want DairyPro to be a recognised mark for professionalism in dairy farming,” says group chairman David Cotton. “As dairy farmers we are constantly working to improve our farms, develop skills within our
workforce and keep up-to-date with the latest developments in technology and business management. “DairyPro gives us a simple way to record those efforts by providing a register for farmers and staff.” Participants who join at Livestock 2012 will receive 16 months membership for the price of 12. Membership costs £20 per year and is free to students. LStand AH118K
Business and management focus Regional discussion groups
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**DF Sep p40 42 44 45 46 Health_Layout 1 08/08/2012 19:27 Page 4
HEALTH & NUTRITION
Combined product hits worms and fluke together
new combined flukicide and wormer, to be launched at Livestock 2012, is said to be effective against a broad spectrum of worms and liver fluke across a wide range of maturity. Called Cydectin TriclaMox Pour-On, the product contains moxidectin, which has a high potency against Ostertagia (stomach worm) and Dictyocaulus (lungworm), and triclabendazole, a flukicide which is active against the widest range of fluke maturity. Said to be the only product which combines these active ingredients, it is recommended the presence of both worm and fluke infections is established before it is used. “At housing, most animals would have mixed infections,” said Pfizer vet Dave Armstrong. He said liver fluke had been particularly prevalent in the prolonged wet weather this summer, and that its presence could impair fertility in breeding stock and make animals more susceptible to sudden death through clostridial diseases. Treatment is administered along the topline at a dose rate of 1ml per 10kg, although the product is not suitable for use on either pregnant or lactating dairy cows and heifers. However, treatment of youngstock at autumn housing could reduce the need for treatment against fluke later in winter or the following spring. LStand AH117K
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Plastic cubicles A newly-launched plastic cubicle, which includes flexible divider rails, is said to minimise cow stress and maximise comfort without losing any of the structural integrity of a traditional metal unit. Manufactured by JFC, the cubicle is supplied as an entire unit, with an optional cow mat. Said to be one of the first on the market to incorporate the entire cubicle structure, including a brisket board which doubles up as a pillow and divider rails, it has no head rail to facilitate entry and exit. LStand LE275K
New mobility monitor ICEROBOTICS has added a new mobility monitoring module to its CowAlert system, which it says gives an early identification of lameness and allows swift remedial action to be taken. Called IceScore Mobility, it provides continuous and cost-effective mobility monitoring and has been developed as an add-on facility to the company’s heat detection system. Developed off the back of research work into animal behaviour, it claims to measure behaviour rather than activity by measuring motion in three dimensions and in relation to gravity. Based on a device strapped to an animal’s hind leg, data is stored for up to four days and is transmitted wirelessly to the farm computer. The information can be viewed on a smartphone, mobile device or on a screen in the parlour. “It’s like having a second-by-second worker monitoring that cow,” said Robert Boyce of IceRobotics. CowAlert is available through Alta Genetics and is sold on a subscription basis at £1.50 per cow per month, depending on farm size. The IceScore mobility feature costs an additional 17p per cow per month. LStand GE020K
DAIRY FARMER SEPTEMBER 2012
**DF Sep p40 42 44 45 46 Health_Layout 1 10/08/2012 09:42 Page 5
4 HEALTH & NUTRITION NEWS IN BRIEF Parlour apron offer If you fancy your chances at skittles, there will be a game with a twist on the MSD Animal Health stand at Livestock 2012. There are 450 Early Lactation Therapy branded aprons to be won for those who take part in the â€˜kill the bugsâ€™ game and the quiz on the stand. Visitors will receive one of the heavy-duty aprons â€“ no matter how well or badly they perform. LStand AH155K
Farm Safety RABDF is working with Lantra and the Health and Safety Executive to deliver key health and safety messages in practical demonstrations in an attempt to lower the number of the 40 to 50 workers killed annually on British farms. Farmers will be shown what to look out for with PTOs and blockages, driving ATVs, working at heights, stacking bales and handling stock. LOutside Hall 17K
National All Breeds Show Holstein UK will once again manage the National All Breeds Show at the event. Tuesday will feature the individual cow in milk classes, with British Friesians and coloured breeds in the morning and Holsteins in the afternoon â€“ each culminating in their respective championship. The inter-breed championship will be judged on Wednesday around lunchtime. LLivestock Hall 62K
Guide for calf growth rates
new guide to dairy heifer growth rates, designed to help producers hit targets, will be launched at Livestock 2012. The guide, by Volac, explains why having growth rate targets throughout the entire rearing period is essential to achieving the optimum age and weight at first calving. It provides recommended target weights at specific ages and, to ensure they are met, advises producers to regularly monitor their calvesâ€™ growth rates. This can be done using scales or a weigh band which is noted for providing a reliable estimate of weight. â€œGrowth has a direct effect on age at first calving,â€? says guide author Volacâ€™s Dr Jessica Cooke. â€œHeifers must be in calf at 15
Long term costings service PROMAR has added a new plan to its costings service to minimise the impact of milk price cuts on farming businesses. Focused particularly on driving efficiencies, the plan is based on a monthly visit and is charged at a set rate per month. Although cutting costs per se will not deliver the required efficiencies, there is scope on many farms to improve the efficiency of operations, removing costs or spreading them over more litres, according to Promar consultant, Emma Thompson. Launching the service, she said: â€œThe aim of the service is to
analyse the individual business and to develop a tailored plan which helps increase margins and profitability. â€œHaving trialled the approach, we know it is possible to uncover improvement opportunities on a range of herd sizes and systems.â€? Unlike Promarâ€™s traditional consultancy service, this new one is wholly focussed on operational efficiencies that will help increase margins and profit. Its once-amonth visit is designed to provide the framework to drive the plan forward. The set price for any herd size is ÂŁ350 per month. LStand GE013K
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months of age if they are to achieve most farmersâ€™ aim â€“ first calving at 24 months. â€œHowever, a Royal Veterinary College survey found only 67% of heifers held to first service and that they require an average 1.4 services per conception. â€œConsequently, we recommend
setting growth rates to help ensure heifers have adequate body size for first service at 13 months.â€? The guide Calf Growth Rates will be available free of charge on the Volac stand or by calling 0800 919 808. LStand FF422K
Seaweed licks AN upgraded range of seaweed licks is being launched by the Glenside Group. Based on Hebridean seaweed, the licks build on the existing Seaquim seaweed meal product, but can be enhanced with specific minerals to correct particular deficiencies. The six buckets â€“ with colour-coded lids â€“ are the pure Seaquim and the product with added garlic, added magnesium, high salt, high energy and general purpose. Available direct or through merchants and in 25kg or 100kg buckets, price ranges from ÂŁ18 to ÂŁ25 per 25kg. LStand FF404K
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**DF Sep p48 50 52 54 55 Machinery_Layout 1 10/08/2012 15:06 Page 1
Plenty of innovation to be looking out for
Hardox tines on latest shear grabs
A whole host of new developments in the dairy equipment sector will be making their Livestock 2012 debut. Martin Rickatson picks out some of the highlights. Pre-processing for TMR TEAGLE now offers two new ways of pre-processing straw for inclusion into complete diets â€“ a technique which the firm says reduces the time and fuel used for adding straw to the mix. The Tomahawk 505XLM mounted round bale processor incorporates a mill rotor system with interchangeable screens available with hole diameters from 10-36mm. The mill can either be fitted with hammers for tougher materials or blades, which increase output by up to 15%. An extended drum accommodates a full-size big square bale.
The trailed Tomahawk 8150 Dual Chop offers more output, with a chop length down to
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about 25mm. Straw too long to pass through a sieve behind the chopping cassette is put through the crossbeater. A set of retractable blades, positioned via hydraulic rams, allows straw to be lightly shredded as it passes through the cutting mechanism, or to be cut short.
THE ever-increasing capacity of telehandlers, coupled with the need to handle silage in larger quantities, has led attachment specialist Albutt to develop a new range of shear grabs with tines made from Hardox â€“ a high tensile steel said to offer good wear resistance and exceptional strength. Albutt, which has used Hardox tines in its range of manure grabs for more than 20 years, has created 50mmwide units, welded into a 10mm box section, for use in its shear grabs. Welding the tines to the grab stops them coming loose. The new grab range also uses Hardox steel for blades and cutting teeth. Blades are said to retain their sharpness over a longer period and give a cleaner cut.
JF-STOLL, now owned by fellow Danish firm Kongskilde, will reveal a new development in its diet feeder line which can process and distribute straw for bedding using a cross conveyor to move the material. The result, says the firm, is a dual-use machine which eliminates the need for a
separate straw shredder/blower. Few other details were available as Dairy Farmer was going to press, but JF-Stoll says the market for such machines is growing as larger units seek ways of spreading investment and running costs of equipment over a wider range of tasks. LStand MA514K
Farm safety demonstrations EVERY hour, on the hour, a series of farm safety demonstrations, sponsored by John Deere, will take place outside the main hall aimed at reinforcing the need for farmers to take care of themselves and their staff. Presented by farm safety expert Brian Rees, of Llandrindod
DAIRY FARMER SEPTEMBER 2012
Wells, the presentations hope to help reduce the number of serious and fatal accidents on UK farms each year, many of them on livestock units. Mr Rees has devoted himself to a career as a safety instructor and assessor and spends a lot of his time training farmers.
DF_09_P49_DF_09_P49 10/08/2012 11:55 Page 21
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**DF Sep p48 50 52 54 55 Machinery_Layout 1 08/08/2012 19:39 Page 2
5 MACHINERY Fixed chute version of feeder/bedder BOMFORD’S Sila-Bed feeder/bedder is now available in a lower-priced fixed chute version. A spout redesign means the machine, which can handle round or square bales, now has an increased throw. A new Bale Post kit, which can be fitted to the rear tailgate, allows longer big square bales, or pairs of 1.5m diameter straw bales, to be carried – even when the strings have been cut. The securing chain holds the bale wads in place for an even feed into the shredding rotor. From the rotor, the chopped material is carried to an eight-blade turbine rotor, which is constructed from 12mm thick plate. Depending on bale density and whether the Sila-Bed is being used to spread bedding straw or to feed silage along a trough, the turbine can be run at either 540rpm or at a reduced 270rpm. LStand MA550K
Grassland tool cleans sward for faster recovery
OPICO’S Pasture Harrow, available in 5m and 6m versions, is designed to level out molehills, disperse muck heaps and cow pats, and aerate the sward, says the firm. With up to 15% of ground covered in pats on grazed swards, this lost ground is regained, ‘free’ nutrients are better distributed, and
regrowth can occur throughout the whole sward, boosted by improved aeration. Designed in-house by the firm, the Pasture Harrow has two rows of spreading plates at the front. The plates in the first row are 95mm wide and drag along the ground, dispersing molehills and knocking off the top crust of cow pats.
The second row is offset, and breaks up the rest of the cow pat, spreading the muck and soil. At the rear, two rows of spring tines further distribute the loosened materials, and also aerate the sward. The Pasture Harrow has a galvanised finish to protect it from the corrosive effects of muck and slurry. LStand MA519K
Low height diet feeders NEW Strautment developments, marketed by Huntington-based Reco, include a farmer targeted range of forage wagons and a low-height diet feeder. The Mega-Vitesse CFS wagons feature the same chopping unit, heavy-duty gearbox and running gear as Strautmann’s Giga models. Capacities are 29cu m, 30cu m and 37cu m, and feature an all-steel body, four-strand transport floor and round steel chains. A large diameter rotor feeds a 40-knife cutting unit, offering a theoretical chop
DAIRY FARMER SEPTEMBER 2012
length of 39mm. A single contact breakback system ensures the double-sided knives stay sharper for longer and minimises horsepower requirement. ISOBUS and Fieldoperator 120 controls are optional. Meanwhile, Verti-Mix-L single vertical auger mixer wagons come in six different sizes from 7.5 to 12.5cu m. Overall height is claimed to be 30cm lower than conventional models, courtesy of a rear-mounted axle. LStand MA517K
LLM WP DF_LLM WP DF 08/08/2012 08:39 Page 1
Come & join us for a drink... and some exciting news! Lambert Leonard & Mayâ€™s Lucky Cow Pub will be at the Dairy Event Livestock Show at the NEC in Brimingham on Tuesday 4th & Wednesday 5th September where
we will be offering refreshments and conversation. Visit us on stand AH141 to learn about our exciting and innovative new pricing system.
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**DF Sep p48 50 52 54 55 Machinery_Layout 1 08/08/2012 19:40 Page 3
5 MACHINERY Post driver for digger mounting
Big new launch expected from New Holland AS Dairy Farmer went to press, New Holland was remaining tight lipped about a significant new product launch it plans for the Livestock Event.
Earlier this year it unveiled a new four-model range of big square balers, with bale sizes from 80x70cm to 120x90cm.
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Confirmed for the show, and on display for the first time at the Livestock Event, will be models from the recently-introduced T5 tractor range. Comprising three variants of 99hp, 107hp and 114hp, the new tractors come with transmission options including a 12/12 powershuttle transmission and a 24/24 Dual Command. Rear linkage lift capacity is 5420kg. Also making their show debut will be the 55, 65 and 75hp T4 Powerstar tractor range, the smallest of which is less than 2.4m high, squeezing in under an 8ft doorway. Lastly, New Holland will be showing models from its recently-launched line of compact telehandlers. The LM5020 lifts 2.5t to 5.78m, and the LM5030 hoists 2.8t to 6.35m.
FARMS which run a mini 360-degree excavator for small excavation and trenching jobs are one of the target markets for a new development from Browns Agricultural Machinery. Its Ex3 post hammer is designed for use with three to five tonne excavators, and features a 180kg driving hammer. A large-throat post cap incorporates spikes to secure the post. A double-sealed bearing in the rope pulley, and the incorporation of the rope and pulley mechanism into the main beam, provide extra protection and increase working life, claims the maker. An extendable leg is used for height setting and stability, while a guard fitted to the post cap provides an extra safety measure, and a rubber plate reduces noise. The attachment bracket can be mounted either side of the mast according to the preferred operating position. LStand MA572K
Mower and wrapper developments AMONG the announcements Kuhn hopes to make at the Livestock Event are developments in its range of mounted mowers. These include a new steel flail conditioner, designed for improved conditioning and
DAIRY FARMER SEPTEMBER 2012
longer life. Also in the firmâ€™s plan for the show, although final details are still to be confirmed, are fertiliser spreader developments and new electrics for its wrappers. LStand MA504K
DF_09_P53_DF_09_P53 10/08/2012 14:59 Page 21
Farmersguardian.com Visit farmersguardian.com for news, views and much, much more Breaking news – keep up-to-date with the latest news, or sign up to our weekly newsletter to find out what’s happening in your industry Videos – from tractor tests to interviews with leading political and industry figures Comment – share your opinions and take part in our online debates Pictures – display your pictures in our reader gallery and find out what’s happening on farms around the country Classifieds online – more than 130,000 people visited www.farmersguardian.com last month. Make sure your ad gets noticed
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**DF Sep p48 50 52 54 55 Machinery_Layout 1 08/08/2012 19:41 Page 4
5 MACHINERY Paloursafe launched for extra peace of mind
demand only nationally accredited technicians from their milking equipment dealer when requesting farm attendance,.
The MEA will be highlighting how inadequate installation and servicing can compromise herd, parlour and milking equipment
safety at a seminar to be held on each morning of Livestock 2012 in the Business Debates area.
Powermix Pro Diet Feeder
FARMERS can expect to receive a more professional level of service from milking machine manufacturers, distributors and engineers, through the recently launched Parloursafe initiative. Operated by the Milking Equipment Association (MEA), the initiative aims to give farmers the peace of mind that their complex machinery is being installed and maintained by a qualified technician. Based on a series of courses run at Cheshire’s Reaseheath College, and operated in association with the Institute of Agricultural Engineers, the scheme will produce four categories of technician, the highest of which is defined as Master Technician at Category Four. Also citing improved animal health and less teatend damage through better maintained equipment, Roger Lane-Nott, director general of the MEA, urged all farmers to
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DAIRY FARMER SEPTEMBER 2012
**DF Sep p48 50 52 54 55 Machinery_Layout 1 08/08/2012 19:42 Page 5
MACHINERY 5 Fully automatic complete diet feeding
THE Lely Vector automated feeding system is the next major step in automating working methods within dairy farming, claims the firm. Feed is stored in a ‘feed kitchen’ containing all necessary ingredients. Depending upon the size of the kitchen, feed can even be stored for a three-day period, ensuring there is sufficient stock for a long weekend. A feed grab selects the feeds and loads them into the mixing robot, scanning the part of the feed storage area designated for specific feeds and collecting them from the highest point. A concentrates dispenser monitors feed quantities, and any minerals or supplements can be mixed with them. A user interface with touch screen is used to set up the feeding plan and feed kitchen, programme rations and view reports.
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Updated Powerspread IN response to customer feedback from dairy farmer users, Shelbourne Reynolds has made a number of updates to its Powerspread Dairy range of liquid/solid muckspreaders. The most significant change is the uprated driveline, which now incorporates a larger 12mm main auger shearbolt more conveniently located on the main auger drive sprocket. This replaces the 6mm shearbolt found on the drive hub of previous Dairy models, and will allow more power to be transmitted through the driveline, says the manufacturer. Drive chains have also been uprated, and grease nipples have been relocated into more accessible banks to make servicing easier. The slurry deflector above the door has also been modified and strengthened. Other established Powerspread features such as right side centre-mounted discharge rotor and door and overshot rotor are retained.
Your Business Driven by Innovations Hanover / Germany 13 – 16 November 2012 Field Farm Tours Ltd. Nichola Gray, Tel.: 01636 616060, E-Mail: firstname.lastname@example.org including
DAIRY FARMER SEPTEMBER 2012
**DF Sep p56 57 Finance Interview_Layout 1 10/08/2012 10:21 Page 1
Barclays predicts additional demand for working capital In the conflicting dairying world of tight margins and a need to invest for the future, Peter Hollinshead talks to Oliver McEntyre, Barclays’ recently-appointed National Agricultural Specialist, about how he sees things.
liver, welcome to your new role. I read you were brought up on a Lancashire farm and went through the Myerscough mill, so you are no stranger to agriculture? Absolutely not. Born and brought up on a farm and then three years at Myerscough, 10 years working on farms, six years in consultancy and six years with the bank. Let’s concentrate on the dairying aspect – what’s confidence like out there? Is there still a growing demand among milk producers to get loans to modernise and expand or has that taken a rein check in recent months? Undoubtedly milk price decreases will shake the confidence of some producers. However there is some good news this week in that half of the milk price decreases have been rescinded or stepped away from and I think there is a band of 30 to 40 year-old farmers who are looking at it long term and investing appropriately. You talk about investing and the tough times, will the emphasis in the short-term go from investment capital to perhaps working capital, do you think? I think undoubtedly we will see an increased requirement for working capital as we head towards winter with the potential for poorer quality silage and possibly higher feed costs, but hopefully it will be a temporary thing as the markets level up. In the long term, if you are 35 years old and looking to double your herd size, you have to take the longer view. But just sticking to the present and the bigger demand for working capital, that can’t be a good sign for you can it?
I think it’s a short term trend and in 12 months’ time we might be sitting here with a higher milk price and lower input costs in which case working capital demand will go down. But it would indicate they may be a bit short of the readies on some farms? Potentially some farms may need more working capital, some may not. Let us not forget that, as well as borrowing, agriculture holds substantial credit balances and those who hold them will look to their own cash resources first rather than ours, and quite rightly so.
of things but the trend to serious herd expansion, combined with land purchase, tends to be the bigger use. Just sticking with the confidence bit if we may, Barclays of course has been making its own news lately with its £290m fine – what impact has that had on your business as it must damage the brand and the all-important relationship you have with farmers and that is their trust in you? Nobody wants to be in the news for the wrong reasons clearly, but I believe through our actions now and in the future, and our support for the industry, we can rebuild whatever trust may have been eroded.
OK, can you give me some quantitative assessment of that confidence – is your dairy business increasing and if so is OK, I’ll come back to that later. that because of a greater Nevertheless, you must see demand for agriculture as borrowing or are good business you taking market for the bank with share from as good a set of In the long term, if you someone else? assets to lend are 35 years old and A little bit of both against as you – our market share looking to double your are likely to find is growing and we herd size, you have to anywhere. Are take the longer view. also have existing funds almost customers looking Oliver McEntyre never ending at to expand and fund Barclays to lend that expansion. to agriculture? We lend on the basis of the Just to get a better handle on appropriateness of that lend and this confidence aspect, and I the ability of the borrower to don’t know whether you have service it. Undoubtedly the these figures, but what is your secured lending to the lending to agriculture in general agricultural business to owner and to dairying in particular? occupiers is exceptionally strong I don’t have specific dairying backed by good assets, but we figures, but our lending to also lend to the tenanted sector agriculture in general is around and we are happy to do so. the £3 billion mark. Looking at the more What specifically is the money intermediate future, like five being used for in dairying – is it years hence, what do you think mainly for modernisation of the future of the industry will existing parlours etc, or more for be and what do you think the expansion to get economy of profitability will be? I know it’s a scale? difficult thing to predict but Obviously we see a whole range someone in Barclays HQ must be
DAIRY FARMER SEPTEMBER 2012
modelling these things, are they not? We obviously feel the dairy industry has a long term future and are keen to support those productive, profitable farmers, and I think five years hence we will still see a significant dairy industry in the UK. What do you mean by significant? Are we going to see a lot less dairy farmers with lot bigger units, or are we about to stabilise with 11,000 producers or whatever it is? My personal feeling is we will see an increase in herd size but perhaps a reduction in the number as some of the smaller producers exit the industry. The reason I ask about future predictions is that it begs the question of how we see ourselves coming out of the present problems. One of the largest must be the potential collapse of the eurozone economies and all that entails, and we may even see the whole edifice collapse and with it the CAP. Does that worry you? That is obviously a concern and the eurozone crisis is not just affecting agriculture but all industries. Where we are at the moment is that CAP reform is under way and projected to come in the next couple of years. Should the whole edifice crumble and with it the CAP, we would have to deal with that as and when it happened. Let’s look at the detail of your loans – what’s your best offer to a producer wanting to put on an extra 100 cows with cubicle extension and new parlour for say £0.3m over say 10 years, and would it be best to have a fixed or a variable rate? Pricing of lending does vary for a range of reasons, but as a indicator at present, on a fixed
**DF Sep p56 57 Finance Interview_Layout 1 10/08/2012 10:22 Page 2
FINANCE We are seeing projections for an increase in food demand with a growing world population and it is often said that agriculture is counter cyclical, or at least acyclical, to the main stream economy and is driven by demand.
Oliver McEntyre: I would be taking a fixed rate at the moment. rate you would be looking in the region of 4.5% in today’s market. My feeling is if I were undertaking serious capital investment with a rate as low as that – and that is a margin plus cost of funds rate – I would be taking a fixed rate at the moment. And that is fixed for 10 years? How long can you take a fixed rate for? Although we are happy to lend for considerably longer periods, and up to 25 years in the case of land purchase, we will fix a borrowing rate for up to 10 years and that is our usual maximum. What is your variable rate? Our variable rates also vary depending on the individual case, but as a general rule at present the variable rate would be slightly lower than a fixed rate because of the premium for fixing the rate. On a variable rate you could be
talking in the region of 1per cent lower than that including base at half percent ie 3.5%. What’s your opinion of what milk margins will do? I suppose the question is will there be a continued squeeze on margins with input costs going up more sharply relative to the milk price? We base our lending decisions on a farm-to-farm basis on the cash flow projections, and we make a decision on that and the individual management team behind that business. Money is cheap right now and with gloomy growth projections (we’ve just had the latest negative quarter) – is that likely to continue for some time and in this period of austerity, with downward pressure on living standards, is this a time when paradoxically agriculture could fare better than other industries?
See us at Livestock 2012 Stand No. LE 269
As we approach 2015 and the demise of quotas, will we see an explosion in UK milk production and the industry gearing up for this production? Whether we see an explosion only time will tell. The more progressive farmers are always looking to expand. Those without some form of succession planning in place – which is about half of UK dairy farmers – may be a little more cautious in their approach but those younger ones with succession may be looking to expand. Of course one of the things which affects our industry is the exchange rate, particularly as most of our neighbours are in the eurozone. Will the pound continue to strengthen against the euro – it was 82p a few months ago but is now down to 78p – and make dairy imports from our neighbours appear cheap? The data for future sterling:euro exchange rates I was looking at the other day had quite a significant spread from between 75 and 88, which indicates the uncertainty in the market as to where the euro will be... currently our position is it will be somewhere at the lower end of this spectrum. You are talking of 75p… in what time scale? Potentially over the next 12 months.
But of course most of our protein feedstuffs are based on the dollar – how do you see the dollar viz the pound moving? Our forecast is that the dollar will not move too far from its current level of 1.57 and the pound gradually weaken, moving to 1.53. Let’s look at the your involvement with Livestock 2012 – this is your third year as sponsors I believe – can you tell me what your financial input is? No. That is a confidential matter between ourselves and the RABDF. Well that’s very succinct. On that point I’ll come back to that earlier question of whether you feel your efforts to promote your brand and get across to dairy farmers is constantly being undone by the revelation of activities at head office? We need to continue the strength of Barclays which is meeting the needs of our customers whatever they may be. If a brand and business is based on the people who work for it, the relationship they have with their customers, and with the efforts they put in to making those relationships work, then that is a phenomenal success story given that they continue to do that despite all the issues being raised in the press. Finally back to where we came in welcoming you to agriculture, but given the fact that you are currently short of a chief executive officer, a chief operating officer and in due course a chairman, will you be putting your hat in the ring? I am still waiting for the call, as indeed I am from the RFU for the England team!
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01952 813-818 WWW.COWCRADLE.COM DAIRY FARMER SEPTEMBER 2012
**DF Sep p58 Renewables_Layout 1 10/08/2012 10:23 Page 1
Renewables offer scope for extra income stream Production of heat and electricity from renewable sources has generated a lot of interest, but changes in Feed-in Tarrifs have clouded the issue. Alistair Fell of H&H Land & Property, Carlisle, gives us his view.
t has been an interesting six months for the UK renewable energy industry as there has been a great deal of uncertainty with regard to the level of payments which will be received through the Feed-in Tariff. This was principally owing to the Government’s failure to recognise the scheme would be so popular and cuts would be needed. As a consequence, there has been a certain amount of hesitation when it comes to farmers actually committing to investing in renewables. However, recently the Government gave clarity on both the FIT and ROC (Renewables Obligation Certs) payment levels going forward. Although there have been cuts to most technologies, the level of cutting has been minimal and most projects should still make financial sense.
Digester I believe AD has the potential to be a great addition to most farmers’ income, but the approach needs to change. At present most companies will take the approach that you need a 500kW system and a lot of feedstock to make a scheme work. This often alters the farming operation and puts the farmer at considerable risk, as the capital cost is massive and so is the level of feedstock required. As a result, we are working with smaller scale plants which cost less money, work efficiently and reliably and can be run in conjunction with the existing farming operation. It is possible to run an AD scheme on 100% slurry, and any additional whole crop you could spare would be an added bonus. Although slurry has a comparably very low output compared to maize or grain, it is
The solar industry has been hit hardest by the FiT reviews, but the cost of panels is reducing dramatically. free. With 250 head of cattle or more you could run an AD plant on slurry alone. This would provide electricity for the farm and national grid, and heat for the farm and neighbouring properties. The Government is clearly behind AD and this has been recognised during the FiT review where the AD payments were not cut. By keeping the investment at a reasonable low level, below £500,000 in most cases, projects can be economically affordable and attractive.
Solar It is slightly different with the solar industry, which has been hardest hit by the cuts to FiTs. Despite this, the wholesale cost of panels is reducing dramatically so the industry should be able to tighten margins and keep going. FiT payments were cut on August 1, but it will probably still be commercially viable for large energy consumers to install fairly large systems. This is because we expect to see the capital cost falling dramatically as the price paid for electricity
rises, so net savings will be similar. Generally, you will be looking at a 9% return on investment.
Wind The small wind sector (<15kW) has been hit hardest by the FiT cuts with income falling from 28.1p/kWh to 21p/kWh. We would expect to see a slowdown in the number of installations of these small turbines. The cuts to medium-scale wind (15-500kW) have been about 20%, but nevertheless most projects should still make economic sense. Despite this, the planning regime is becoming an increasingly difficult place for wind turbines. We have managed to maintain a very good success rate for medium-scale wind turbines by submitting thorough applications in sensible locations. There has been a slight decrease in the number of largescale wind developments, but there is still a steady number coming forward and rent levels are still very attractive. We are submitting an increasing number of planning applications for larger
DAIRY FARMER SEPTEMBER 2012
scale turbines on behalf of farmers – typically 225-500kW – which at between 45m-80m tall are impressive structures with the ability to create a substantial income.
Biomass The other main renewable source is biomass. With the introduction of the Renewable Heat Incentive last year biomass boilers have become an attractive proposition. The scheme works in the same way as the Feed-in-Tariff in that there is no capital grant available but an annual payment is guaranteed for 20 years. There are varying types of boiler ranging from wood pellets to whole log systems. They also vary in price considerably from a small domestic system costing £3000, up to a large commercial boiler in the region of £300,000. Generally, you will see payback in about 6 years on biomass boilers. Despite all the changes we have seen over the last year or so, renewable energy is a great opportunity for farmers to reduce costs and create additional income streams.
Endurance WP DF_Endurance WP DF 08/08/2012 12:55 Page 1
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**DF Sep p60 62 Renewables_Layout 1 10/08/2012 10:26 Page 1
All power generated is automatically fed into the National Grid.
Alistair Wannop believes the system is complementary to the farm.
Digestor set to earn its keep on Cumbrian farm A massive £2.8m digestor is already up and running in Cumbria and is projected to earn £700,000 a year. Jeremy Hunt investigates the economics of such ventures.
Cumbria dairy farmer who has invested £2.8m in an anaerobic digestion plant expects it to earn £700,000 a year in income – a level of return which it is hoped
will pay off the installation loan within seven years. Alistair Wannop, of Linstock Castle Farm, Carlisle, who has been planning the project for three years, has created a power generation unit which will turn
maize silage, manure and cow slurry into electricity which will be sold to the National Grid. It is one of several farm-based power generating schemes based on renewable energy which are springing up across Cumbria. Clydesdale Bank has provided the investment capital for the project at Linstock Castle Farm through its Investing for Growth Strategy. The business, G Wannop and Son, is run by Alistair and his wife Julie. The family also owns Eden Golf Club and has a 1000acre dairy and arable farm milking 200 cows. “We felt anaerobic digestion would give us a good return and would fit in with our existing farming system. Looking around we couldn’t see any other alternative opportunities we felt were as good. We aren’t in the best of arable producing areas, a large area of the farm floods most winters, and we have to fight the
climate when it comes to producing good cereal yields – but we can grow forage very well including maize and grass,” explains Alistair. Convinced that anaerobic digestion was something which could be ‘complementary’ to the business’s existing livestock system, Alistair visited Germany to see anaerobic digestion systems working on farms. “The Germans are way ahead of us on this and I was expecting to spend quite a bit of time travelling around looking at different digestors on farms that were miles apart,” he adds.
Surprised “But I was surprised to find that so many farms have an anaerobic digestor as part of their livestock system and all we had to do was hop around neighbouring farms to do our inspections. “What struck me forcibly in Germany was the ability of these
The digestor is currently producing 500kW of power an hour.
DAIRY FARMER SEPTEMBER 2012
DF_09_P61_DF_09_P61 10/08/2012 14:51 Page 21
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**DF Sep p60 62 Renewables_Layout 1 10/08/2012 10:26 Page 2
Silage is also used to fuel the AD. enterprises to run within conventional livestock units and to bring much needed extra income into those businesses. Not all of the farms have large digestors – some were only generating 75-150kW an hour – but every one was an important part of an existing beef or dairy farm.” Alistair says the anaerobic digestors he saw in Germany were bringing in a different source of income into the rural economy, and yet it was still very closely linked to everything normally associated with the existing agricultural business. Slurry, farmyard manure, silage and maize – all home-grown at Linstock Castle Farm – will be used to feed the anaerobic digestor which is currently producing 500kW of power an hour. The system began generating power in spring this year. At its 500kW an hour output the digestor is producing power valued at £88 an hour – enough to provide electricity for 1200 homes. The agreement with the National Grid guarantees an index-linked subsidy for 20 years. The current rate is 13.6p per kW hour. The physical task of putting material into the digestor has become part of the daily routine for farm staff. “It’s a case of feed the cows and then feed the
The generator room for the digester at Linstock Castle Farm.
Alistair Wannop in maize which is used to feed the digester. digestor. It’s just one of the day’s jobs,” says Alistair. The digestor holds material for 120 days and produces methane which is ignited to run an engine which generates the power.
Precise Having undertaken considerable research into the project, he says it’s doing ‘exactly what it says on the tin’. “When we visited Germany and decided on the digestor we wanted, we were told how much material it would require to generate its power output – and its daily needs are precisely what we were told.” But he acknowledges it is a big
investment for any farming business to commit to – one of the reasons he believes anaerobic digestion is taking a while to become established in the UK. So how did Alistair Wannop select a digestor he felt would be reliable and warrant such a large investment? “We wanted a well-engineered, robust system, but one that was easy to operate. We looked at how the digestors in Germany were being operated and were satisfied we could do the same. Keeping the digestor fed, and the fact you are using some of the waste material produced from the animals you’ve just been feeding, certainly makes this something that seems an appropriate enterprise which fits in with what we’re already doing on the farm. “And we can use the digestate that’s left behind after processing to put back on the land to feed the soil to produce more crops so we aren’t using finite resources to produce this power. It ticks every box.” He admits it is proving very straightforward to operate. Most of the skills required to manage the digestor on a day-to-day basis will be found among staff already
DAIRY FARMER SEPTEMBER 2012
working on a livestock unit, says Alistair. “You feed it just like you would feed a cow – and if you are going to change the diet you have to do it gradually. You just have to adopt a common sense approach.” All power generated is automatically fed into the National Grid. Alistair is aware of the on-going debate over the issue of growing crops for fuel rather than for food, but he believes there is room for both. “Some areas of the UK are better suited to growing crops to generate power, so it’s about achieving a balance of land use to meet all requirements. It doesn’t seem so long ago that the Government was asking us to setaside 15% of the farm and not to grow crops at all.” The locally-based company Border Construction has been used to build the plant. The anaerobic digestor has a diameter of 42 metres and a depth of six metres – all housed within a concrete structure. “We’re transforming farm waste into electricity. It will become an important and sustainable part of the business,” he says.
DF_09_P63_DF_09_P63 10/08/2012 09:19 Page 21
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**DF Sep p64 Workshop Tips_Layout 1 10/08/2012 10:28 Page 1
Lely harrow gets new lease of life Larger machines are causing severe compaction on many farms and as a result are depressing grassland productivity.
he weather this season has certainly made fools of many of us. As the dry spell persisted, politicians were jockeying to become the new minister for drought and forecasters were busy searching for new superlatives. Then the heavens opened, and the story suddenly reversed to became one of flood, sodden fields and how best the surplus rain water could be controlled. The spiker/aerator must be the only machine which has a value in both times of drought and flood. When the season is very dry, this machine helps any moisture which does arrive to percolate down to parched
roots, and when the rain is continuous the millions of slits across the field provide the rain water with a channel into the lower soil structures, reducing field run-off.
Grass growth Getting water, as well as air, to grass plant roots is a vital way to promote growth, yet soil compaction still gets only half a nod from many farmers. Compaction is the consequence of heavy machinery and intensive livestock, and to check out how your soil is affected get a spade, dig some holes, and you’ll soon see how consolidated the soil is. Take the spade to a corner of the
This Lely power harrow has an extended life opening up grassland.
! n i W 64
field, or dig up some verge which has had no traffic on it, and see how much easier the blade goes in. Here’s a machine which was entered in to the Farm Workshop Competition at the Essex Young Farmers show in May this year. Steve Mynott from Halstead, Essex, re-engineered a worn out Lely power harrow by welding worn tines to the axle of the crumbler roller which was shorn of all its bars. The angled base of each tine provides a useful area to weld on the tube. Steve used the back end of the flat piece which squares up reasonably well with the tube, which is fitted with convenient flanges against which the tines can be positioned. Every other row has no flange, and for these he used a short length of angle as a support for the other side. The tines are located so their straight back edge is leading into the grass rather than the curved front. Like commercial aerators, Steve finds the effect is to raise grass yield by around 30%, which provides a very worthwhile saving on fertilisers. And with better water percolation the fields have a drier surface in wet weather. Surface applied slurry is washed into the soil faster than before and as his main grass crop is hay, yields are pretty easy to measure. Working the machine
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Mike Donovan Mike is a respected machinery columnist who gives us useful tips on building or modifying our own farm equipment. Sign up for his free newsletter at www.farmideas.co.uk requires some patience, as the 3m width can only be pulled relatively slowly. This is not because of a lack of power but because the whole thing can be lifted when a tine hits a buried stone. In the field, Steve adds extra weight to the back to help with penetration, and this makes it as good as any machine I have ever seen – between 4-5in on each tine is shining.
Worthy winner Despite its lack of paint and sophistication, the slitter-cumaerator was a worthy prize winner in the workshop competition, and using all spare parts the machine is the ultimate in recycling. The only cost was in the welding, done using a stick machine. Grass aerators provide benefits all round, and deserve serious consideration from all farmers looking to improve grass output. In addition you get great environmental improvements with less water run-off, less stream pollution, and an increase in underwater aquifer flow.
DF_09_P65_DF_09_P65 10/08/2012 11:13 Page 22
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**DF Sep p68 Evans_Layout 1 08/08/2012 19:37 Page 1
We must change or we will end up here again This month Roger Evans tells us about the need for producers to grasp the current opportunity before them, and how we can make the large retailers a little twitchy over their milk supplies.
feel compelled to write about the milk situation and once again I find it difficult because events are changing daily and I’m trying to prejudge where we will be by the time these notes are published, which is impossible. What I can do is write about what I know and, more importantly to me, what I think. My own co-op cancelled the proposed August 1 price cuts which was good news for us here and it led the way for the industry. Producer pressure and consumer sympathy seems to have shown the way but we mustn’t think that’s all we need to do. We’ve been here before and unless we make fundamental changes to how we, as dairy farmers, organise ourselves, we’ll be here again, and quicker than we think. We need to realise when Muller bought Wiseman and Arla took over Milk Link, the dairy world, our dairy world, changed forever, and we need to change with it. If you are what we call a direct supplier, you quite simply need to put your notice in. I’ve felt very close to tipping milk away over the last weeks but I’ve not felt comfortable about it. Next to tipping milk away, putting your notice in would make your buyer twitchy and his supermarket customers would start to ask him questions because the reality would be that, in effect, his supply is under notice as well. So the twitch would spread, and making large supermarkets chains twitchy about the supply of milk is surely what all this is about, isn’t it? So put your notice in and get yourselves organised in to proper negotiating producer organisations. If you don’t, that’s
up to you, but don’t expect me for you (getting to see a doctor to come demonstrating with you around here being much more in 12 months time because, difficult), and he tells me it surprise surprise, things haven’t cleans out your tubes but it can changed. Being a direct supplier thin your blood. In fact, he tells has worked for you in the past me, that if you have to take but the past has warfarin for gone. The end of anything, you quotas will come are advised not quicker than you to drink I’m not sure ginger think and you need cranberry juice. beer is for me. It is a to be part of an I decide who bit fiery and it is organisation that wants thin helps you take costing me about three blood with control of your own Rennies a night, which winter destiny. Most of the approaching, so in turn cost 8p so NFU dairy board are I scan the another litre of milk. direct sellers so they shelves and could start the ball decide to go on rolling and set an example. to ginger beer. So I’m sitting I go to the pub quite a lot, there with this glass of ginger but I don’t drink much alcohol beer in front of me and I’m because my driving licence is actually thinking about milk very important to me. So for a (let's face it, we are all thinking couple of years I drank mostly about milk a lot lately), so I ask cranberry juice as this, I was the landlord how much the told, was good for you. But ginger beer has cost. It's been then, I wondered, is too much part of a round and he tells me good for you? It’s a bit like £2.35. So I look at it again and animal welfare groups telling decide that the ginger beer has you chicken is bad for you, but cost me nine litres of milk. I you find that you have to eat 10 know a dairy farmer on the Isle chickens a day before they do of Bute who works out everyyou any harm. So I ask the vet if thing he buys in litres of milk. too much cranberry juice is bad It’s a useful measure of cost and
DAIRY FARMER SEPTEMBER 2012
we all know it’s very relevant today because it reminds us just how much the price of milk is off the pace compared with its ability to purchase the things we need to buy to run our businesses. So I run this scenario further in my mind. If I drink five ginger beers during the evening it will cost me 45 litres of milk, which, if I remember correctly, is a whole churn! Just how ridiculous is that? Okay, so I don’t have to go to the pub, but I do need spare parts, for the tractor brakes for example, so we make six phone calls to locate the cheapest supplier, and save about £400 against the dearest quote. So that’s good and I’m pleased until I apply the milk price criteria and these parts in one hand cost me the equivalent of a whole days milk output! But I’m not finished at the pub yet. I’m not sure ginger beer is for me. It is a bit fiery and it is costing me about three Rennies a night, which in turn cost 8p so another litre of milk. So next time I go to the pub and the landlord reaches down to the ginger beer shelf I tell him I will have a glass of milk. It all goes quiet, the regulars know where I am coming from immediately as does the property owner. His mind is working overtime because he is trying to work out how much to charge me. However, he falls in to a trap and charges me £1.20. I’m struggling with the maths now. That’s more than four litres of milk to buy half a pint. My audience are more comfortable with pints and gallons, particularly pints, but it doesn’t take long for me to convince them that the landlord is a complete b*stard. However, he quickly gets his guitar out and starts singing, which is his way of getting his own back!
CATTLE SERVICES WP DF _CATTLE SERVICES WP DF 07/08/2012 13:35 Page 1
Hallmark Power WP DF_Hallmark Power WP DF 10/08/2012 14:14 Page 1
Dairy Farmer Digital Edition September 2012