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**DF Feb Cover_Layout 1 25/01/2013 11:12 Page 1

DAIRY February 2013

Good Evans


Gearing up for a tractor cull? Pages 54-55 Volume 60 Issue 2

Building up a top yielding dairy herd


Growing advice and varieties focus MAIZE SPECIAL Pages 28-42

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Tip of the month: Secrets of growing good maize crop – p38

FG House Com WP DF_FG House Com WP DF 25/01/2013 13:09 Page 1 Visit 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 the 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 Online events – from our popular Farming Prospects series to our conferences streamed live to your computer Classifieds online – More than 130,000 people visited last month. Make sure your ad gets noticed

Visit now for in-depth and exclusive stories 

**DF Feb p1 Leader_Layout 1 25/01/2013 11:42 Page 1


a word from the


ou could positively hear the collective sound of dropping jaws at the recent Semex conference when retail analyst Alex Bandini got to speak. What he startlingly revealed was the impact last year’s milk protests had actually had now the sales figures have worked their way through the number crunching machinery. You’ll remember the outcry only too well with the countless interviews and the baring of the soul to the whole wide world as angry producers related the imbalance in the industry. Enough you’d think for every retailer, without a dedicated scheme, to be comprehensively embarrassed for weeks on end at just how little they paid their producers, and the obvious recourse would be to put the milk price up, if for no other reason but to get farmers and media off their backs. Well you’d be wrong totally. Prices actually fell in the shops. Despite all the hullabaloo, there was in fact less money



in the supply chain as a result, not more. While retailers on the one hand wheel out their PR machines to defend their purchasing policies and their treatment of farmers, their buying teams, on the other hand, do the financial opposite. That’s OK, of course, if the price drops are funded entirely by the retailers, but they don’t have a particularly good record on that. As we said last month, until there is more money coming into the supply chain and it’s more equitably distributed, producers will continue to feel hard done by, and even the code won’t put that right. As the FFA claims we are still 3-4ppl short of a decent price and Mr Bandini’s revelation shows just how much work still needs to be done!

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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.




**DF Feb p2 3 Contents_Layout 1 25/01/2013 11:01 Page 1


CONTENTS february Volume 60 Issue 2

Yield secrets On farm

10-12 Comment

4-6 8-9 14-15 54-55

Latest news Cowmen Comment Potter’s View Good Evans

Secrets of the high yielding pedigree Holstein herd at Wilderley Hall, Shropshire

Regulars 22-23 44-46 48-49 50 56

Vet’s View Milk Prices New Products Workshop tips Finance


Dangerous vocation Vet’s View

Catch up with our newly-qualified vet who has had to face some difficult situations in the course of her work




**DF Feb p2 3 Contents_Layout 1 25/01/2013 11:01 Page 2



Focus on maize Special feature

Establishment tips for next season, maize varieties, fertilisers and nutrition

Industry vibes

Potter’s View

This month, Ian Potter reflects on the Semex conference and his take on the voluntary code



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**DF Feb p4 5 6 News _Layout 1 25/01/2013 11:44 Page 1

NEWS News in brief Cheese market

JCheese prices are firming for both the UK and Ireland, with some manufacturers reportedly asking for increases of between £200 and £300 to drive the market to, and over, the £3000 per tonne mark. Cheese prices here are already nudging 30ppl for an increasing number of farmers, which equates to a £3000 level. Powder prices are generally firm, although forward whey prices are reducing in line with the forthcoming flush. Whole milk powder was the most significant gainer – up $89 to $3288. It is also the second consecutive auction increase after two months of price falls and forward prices through to June are all up significantly. US prices are continuing to fall for butter, but the cheese price drop has halted.

Cuckoo land

JThe TFA is warning many landlords and agents are taking ‘an unrealistic stance in current rent review negotiations’. With many rent reviews up in March, the organisation’s chief executive George Dunn has said ‘there are a number of landlords continuing to live in cloud cuckoo land with regard to expectations of levels of rent achievable’.



Coalition urging code be taken up without delay ilk buyers who fail to implement the dairy code of practice will ‘face the consequences’, the dairy coalition has warned. This has been brought about by rising fears the implementation of the code will be difficult, if not impossible, to do without formal legislation. The dairy coalition wants to see uptake of the code ‘without delay’ and has set March as a realistic deadline, threatening companies not complying ‘will be made public’. The main bone of contention is over the ‘freedom to move’ clause, which states the contract ‘must allow the producer to

terminate their contract without penalty on a maximum of three month’s notice from the date of notification to the producer of any change made by the purchaser to the price adjustment’. Transition However, there is an opt out on this for cooperative members or for those ‘in transition’ to co-op membership – primarily Arla Foods Milk Partnership. NFU dairy board chairman Mansel Raymond said: “If co-ops, smaller processors or any milk buyer for that matter thinks the code doesn’t apply to them, they are wrong.” NFU President Peter Kendall urged Farming

Minister David Heath to put his full support and force behind the implementation of the code, and praised his recent comment to Dairy UK ‘if contracts do not improve via the voluntary route Defra will look to legislate’. The coalition also called for further price rises. Farmers for Action chairman David Handley said: “Despite all of our efforts, farmgate milk prices for deliveries in January are typically only 1ppl to 2ppl higher than in April 2012. Since then, however, costs of production have risen by 3ppl to 4ppl. Farmers need to see improving dairy market conditions translated into farmgate milk price rises.”

JCanada and the US are discussing the re-issuing of semen import licenses from Europe following the implementation of a ban 12 months ago as a result of Schmallenberg virus (SBV).

EU product collected prior to June 1 2011 is currently eligible, but the ban has restricted use of top bulls including genomic young sires. Semen licensing from

animals tested negative for SBV 30 days prior to collection and 35-100 days post collection are under discussion between Canadian and US authorities.


Semen import licences under discussion


**DF Feb p4 5 6 News _Layout 1 25/01/2013 11:45 Page 2


Demand for strategy

JThe dairy industry needs leadership and above all it needs the market place to work, NFU president Peter Kendall told this year’s Semex conference. He said: “It can’t all be about protesting and pleading. We need a strategy. We can’t hold the industry back in a defensive mode. The question is how we drive the industry to get a bigger share of the market in the future, because if we can get past 2012 and the price pressures we could be in a great place.” Speaking about the dairying specific Voluntary Code of Practice on

contracts, he emphasised the NFU would push for legislation if it did not work because the retailers had ‘never delivered’ when there was a voluntary code for supermarkets. Improvements The prospects for Q2 and Q3 2013 are bullish, and he pledged to ‘do everything he could to make sure any price improvements would be fed through to UK producers in milk prices’. But it would be through good leadership that this would be achieved. “Leadership doesn’t just apply to the NFU, but to

farmers as well. It’s no good us saying we want fairer contracts if farmers don’t demand it as well. Make sure your producer representatives get your messages across about how you want the code adopted,” he said. “We have got to take the opportunity of tightening markets and put the blocks in place so after the removal of quota in 2015 the industry thrives and does not stagnate. But I am remaining optimistic for the future of the British dairy industry.” ■ More from the Semex conference on page 16.

JThe NFU has welcomed the appointment of former Co-operative farms managing director Christine Tacon as the first Groceries Code Adjudicator, stating it

is ‘an important step in the battle to ensure fairness across the supply chain’. Ms Tacon will be responsible for enforcing the Groceries Supply Code

of Practice, which regulates interactions between the 10 largest supermarkets, with an annual turnover of more than £1 billion, and their direct suppliers.

Adjudicator appointment welcomed

Win a Musto jacket

This is your chance to win a super Musto jacket worth £120. The National Mastitis Survey gets bigger and better each year – more than 1600 of you took the time to participate in 2012. Simply spare a few minutes to tell us how your herd is performing and you could be in the running to win one of our 10 Musto jackets. Dairy Farmer has always supported the survey along with MSD Animal Health, but this year we are pleased to welcome Genus ABS and Promar as partners. Results are analysed by a vet in practice and published in a future issue. Closing date is March 22, 2013. So look out for your entry card in this month’s issue – or go online to m/mastitis2013 for a copy.

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**DF Feb p4 5 6 News _Layout 1 25/01/2013 11:45 Page 3

NEWS News in brief Leif sire death

JThirteen-year-old German sire Leif has had to be put down following an undisclosed accident at the stud. The renowned sire by Lukas has proved popular with UK breeders because of his impressive health traits and appeal as an outcross sire. Used globally, he produced more than 400,000 straws and the sire’s latest proof run, based on 694 daughters across 171 herds in the UK, shows a PLI of +155, somatic cell of -26, with a score of +0.85 for legs and feet and +1.23 for udders. Such figures gave him a Type Merit of +1.24. Marketed by Bullsemen. com, semen is still available, although limited, at £14 a straw.

Dairy outlook

JWhat will be the dairying state of affairs in 2013? Well, the AHDB/DairyCo Outlook conference will discuss experts’ views, and be chaired by Dairy Farmer columnist Ian Potter. The conference will take place in London on Wednesday, February 13, and is jointly hosted by DairyCo, Eblex and Bpex. Presentations will incude price volatility and the outlook for feed prices. Details at



Labelling doesn’t work for industry ccording to The Grocer magazine the Department of Health (DoH) has dealt a blow to the dairy industry by suggesting front of pack labelling will not differentiate between natural and added sugars.

Dairy contains the natural sugar lactose, and if any labelling scheme does not allow for the differentiation between natural and artificial sugar, then this will make it impossible for any such products to get a green light, even if they contain no added sugar. The Provision Trade

Federation wrote to the DoH, and the response said ‘the EU was against the idea’. But in addition to this inability to differentiate between sugar types, the industry could also be on the receiving end of high fat and high saturated fat ratings too.

JNot to be outdone by Muller-Wiseman, Arla Foods has also outlined its five-year strategy. Its focus will be on Russia, China and the Middle East and Africa regions, with the 2017 target being to increase overall revenue from about DKK3.5 billion to DKK10bn. The abolition of EU milk quotas in 2015 will lead to Arla’s farmers producing at least one billion kilos more

milk each year. The extra milk ‘cannot be sold as profitable products in the EU due to growth stagnating’, it said, and hence the expansion into new markets. Arla’s CEO Peder Tuborgh said: “We are four years into the 2015 strategy period and have achieved many of the strategy’s objectives, and are close to the revenue target of DKK75bn.”

JA vegan extremist is planning to brand three fellow anti-dairy protesters with a hot iron in London in a bid to highlight animal cruelty in the dairy industry. According to the Daily Mail it will take place on March 21, and echoes those which took place in Israel in October. The act is not illegal because the adults are consenting.

JUK production in December was 1035.9 million litres, which was 61.69m litres lower than the same month last year (-5.6%) and 35.69m lower than two years ago.

Cumulatively we have produced 9821.8m litres for H1+Q3, which is 298.4m down on last year (-3%), and 223.2m down on two years ago. For the first two weeks of

January, UK volumes are down 5.88% compared to last year, meaning cumulative production is 3.17% below last year. GB production is down 6.75% and cumulatively down 3.44%.


Arla outlines five-year plan Branding

UK production figures down on last year


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What if a third of your cows have a costly secret?

You can’t see hidden ketosis. But it’s there, and much more common than clinical ketosis. 9LJLU[Z[\KPLZZOV^P[JHUHMMLJ[HYV\UK VMJV^ZL]LUPU^LSSTHUHNLKOLYKZ While it’s invisible, it’s not inexpensive. Hidden ketosis hurts cow health, reproductive performance, milk production and quality. And it can lead to displaced abomasums, cystic ovaries, retained placenta and metritis, increasing culling risk. The effects could cost from ÂŁ200 up to ÂŁ500 per cow. Now you can screen your herd for this hidden threat with Elanco’s easy, cowside milk test. Keto-Test™ takes just a minute and a few drops of milk. ;VĂ„UKV\[TVYLHIV\[2L[V;LZ[JVU[HJ[`V\Y]L[LYPUHYPHU Elanco, Lilly House, Priestley Road, Basingstoke, Hampshire RG24 9NL Tel: 01256353131 ;OL2L[V;LZ[SHILSJVU[HPUZJVTWSL[L\ZLPUMVYTH[PVUPUJS\KPUNJH\[PVUZHUK^HYUPUNZ Always read, understand and follow the label and use directions.


**DF Feb p8 9 Cowmen Murley _Layout 1 24/01/2013 14:05 Page 1



Christopher Murley farms in partnership with his parents and two brothers at Higher Bojewyan Farm, Pendeen, on the extreme west tip of Cornwall, where they run 310 pedigree Jerseys and 140 youngstock.

ur cows, along with us, have had the toughest year we can remember for a long time. But we cannot complain because, although we had extreme rainfall, we have not had to re-house animals and none of our buildings have been flooded. Growing plenty of grass was our aim this past year and we achieved it, but making good use of it proved more difficult. I think it is fair to say we overestimated the amount of feed value in the grass and expected cows to eat more than was actually possible. This is fine provided you can have a break in the weather for long enough for cows to regain condition, but this never happened and, as a result, some cows went dry at a lower condition score than we would like. The cows started calving in late July and, although thinner than we’re used to, calved really well with no major problems. But in late September we started having some strange happenings with them. They would be looking normal and milking well and suddenly they would have no milk and a high temperature, with no obvious reason. This happened with just odd cows to start with, and two to three days later they would pick up and look better, and the milk would come back to normal in a week or

O Talking to our vet he said it was highly likely our cows have Schmallenberg




so. But we kept having one to two per week and some of the poorly cows would also get mastitis. In December, we had our annual TB test which, luckily, was all clear. Talking to our vet, he said it was highly likely our cows have Schmallenberg to some level and they had seen quite a lot of it in west Cornwall this year. Some herds had very mild infections affecting a few cows, while others saw most cows affected and lost a lot of milk. It would appear, now we are into 2013, that for the last four to five months a lot of the problems we’ve been unable to explain look like being caused by Schmallenberg virus. At least we know. Improving situation Some farms have also had deformed calves, but we have only had one which was born without a tail. After some more problems with the virus in December, things are looking a lot better and cows are settling back to milk reasonably well and hopefully it won’t affect fertility too much. Despite this, compared to last year, we’re still about two litres a cow down on milk sold. We have just scanned 84 cows and 80 are in calf, which shows fertility is good so far and the pedometers and heat detection are working well. Last winter we outwintered our bulling and in-calf heifers on stubble turnips

**DF Feb p8 9 Cowmen Murley _Layout 1 24/01/2013 14:05 Page 2


A lot of the unexplained problems over the past four to five months may have been owing to the effect of Schmallenberg virus.

Farm facts

rFarm size: 140ha (350 acres), mainly grass with 16ha (40 acres) spring barley for alkalage rHerd size: 310 pedigree Jerseys milking and 140 youngstock rYield: 5300 litres at 5.75% butterfat and 3.97% protein rRainfall: 1400mm (55 inches) rMilk buyer: Arla Milk Link.

planted after spring barley, but we felt by the time they made a good crop, it was too late in the year, so this year we planted them in mid-August as a winter keep mixture with kale and rape. This was ready to feed in October and has made a big difference to the crop with plenty of bulk. We also put round bales of haylage in the crop to save having to go in with a loader every day. We were a little concerned about the bales as we are surrounded by houses and worried kids might cut the wrap, but we neednâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t have worried as they only moved one bale about three foot and gave up. Crows and seagulls have been more trouble, along with foxes, for putting holes in the plastic. The silage season finished for us on

December 6 with 11ha (28 acres) made into round bales! When we were first told of a possible Milk Link/Arla merger, we were quite pleased as we thought it has to be a good thing to be part of a bigger co-operative, better able to compete on the world market. Unfortunately Arla Milk Link has not got off to as good a start price-wise as was predicted, but we are still confident of the long-term benefits which will hopefully come in due course. Most commentators see a bright future for British farmers, but we wonder when we will see it. Along with most other farms, we are more than a little disappointed with our current milk price, especially as we were told we were to expect better.

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**DF Feb p10 11 12 On Farm_Layout 1 25/01/2013 10:16 Page 1


Milk production at Wilderley Hall, Shropshire, has reached 12,600 litres, replacing a modest yield based on cake and grass. Ann Hardy reports.

Secrets behind achieving one of top yielding herds or brothers Andrew and Bill Higgins, who run one of the highestyielding herds of pedigree Holsteins in the UK, dairy farming boils down to one simple philosophy. “Our aim is to maximise the time cows spend doing exactly what they want to do – be that eating, standing up, lying down or socialising,” they say. To this end, the brothers have put in place a management system at their family’s Wilderley Hall in Pulverbatch, Shropshire, which will run on auto-pilot when either brother is absent from the farm, and which rarely, if ever, deflects from the agreed protocols. The brothers have run the dairy operation – now comprising 295 cows – alongside parents Bill and


Left to right: Bill (senior), Bill, Margaret and Andrew Higgins.

Margaret for all of their working lives. Achieving the high health and welfare critical to reaching their over-arching goal they say is almost entirely dependent on dry and transition cow management. “From day seven until the end of lactation is the easy bit,” says Andrew. “But managing the dry, calving and immediate post-calving groups is

Dry cow ration (fresh weights)

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critical,” he says. “If you can get the cow through this with no hiccups, she will come into heat, be inseminated successfully, have a reduced chance of mastitis, and the next time she will flag up is when it’s time to dry her off.” While the brothers say they cannot quantify the importance of getting the transition management right, the reality of its value is seen in a cross-section of performance figures. This includes annual milk sales of 12,640 litres at 3.87% fat and 3.06% protein, a 12month rolling average cell count of 84,000 cells/ml, a Bactoscan of 10, a proportion dry of just 10%, and a

lifetime daily yield of 18.22kg – for all of which they have won many prizes. But it all begins in the run-up to calving, according to the brothers, who stress time invested here will reap rich dividends later. “If you get that wrong, you might as well pack your bags and go,” says Bill. “You will get milk fever, displaced abomasums, metritis and knock-on effects on fertility.” Drying off Drying off in the right condition is vital, says Andrew. “Maintaining, rather than gaining or losing condition during this time is central to success – fat cows are hard work in the post-calving group.” Managing the dry cows on a diet of haylage (from a dedicated 6-ha (15-acre) field on which the N, P and particularly K indexes are kept at 0 or 1), maize silage, good quality wheat straw, rape, soya, yeast and dry cow minerals (see Table), they say it is also essential eight litres of water per cow are added to the mix. “Before we added water,

**DF Feb p10 11 12 On Farm_Layout 1 25/01/2013 12:56 Page 2

ON FARM the dry cow diet was being sorted,” says Bill, who takes responsibility for nutrition. “Some cows were getting udder oedema, we had a milk fever blip and most of this traced to inadequately mixed feed,” he explains. Even mixing “Now we’re adding water, we know the minerals and other components are stuck to the rest of the feed and they’re evenly mixed.” Remaining on this ration from drying off until calving, cows then move on to a watered down version of the milking herd ration. “She will calve in the calving shed, where she can

be separated from the rest of the group, and then move into the small post-calving group within a matter of hours,” says Andrew. Having been offered 40 litres of tepid water after calving, she will remain within this group for around seven days. “She will be monitored for dung consistency, rumen fill and yield throughout the week and on day seven we will take her temperature and measure her ketone levels,” says Andrew. Pulling a ketone monitor from his pocket, he says: “If ketones are high, she may be burning body fat – perhaps because she was

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**DF Feb p10 11 12 On Farm_Layout 1 25/01/2013 10:16 Page 3

ON FARM over-fit at the time of calving – and we may need to take action, such as giving propylene glycol.” After a final post-calving check to ensure there are no signs of infection, she will move to a main milking group when the brothers are satisfied she can cope with the change. “The milking groups could comprise 170 cows,” says Andrew. “If we moved her straight after calving, she could easily be missed, but by having a postcalving group she will only be with the 15 or so cows we really need to focus on.” With the ensuing lactation set up to succeed, the brothers say there will be no further movement between groups in the lactation. “We only have groups because of the size of our sheds, but they are all on the same ration,” says Bill. “If you want to wipe milk off the cow, change her group mid lactation.” Another way to reduce

What’s the point in stopping the cow that’s giving 37 litres – she is your bread and butter Andrew Higgins

milk production, the brothers say, is to serve cows early. They insist on a 70-day voluntary waiting period (VWP) pre-service. “Why ask the cows to calve again any sooner,” says Andrew. “For a start it will knock the peak off their production, and if they lose, say, four litres a day after conception, they will lose that every day throughout the rest of their lactation. “What’s the point in stopping the cow that’s giving 37 litres – she is your bread and butter.” With good conception rates, a calving index of 420

Wilderley Hall Farm facts r12,644kg milk at 3.77% fat and 3.01% protein (870kg F+P) – Sept ’12 NMR Report rLifetime Daily Yield: 18.22kg rYear-round calving rYear-round TMR rThree-times-a-day milking rA rota of 10 people



undertake milkings rAge at first calving: 24.7 months (target 24 months) rAnnual somatic cell count 84 rAnnual Bactoscan 10 rMastitis rate is 48 cases/100 cows/year rMobility – 95% scores 0 and 1.


Cows are kept in a small post-calving group for at least seven days.

days is achieved, despite the VWP being around 30 days longer than the national average. At the other end of lactation, drying off time is tailored to the cow and the dry period will vary between six to eight weeks. “If they are doing over 27 litres at eight weeks, they will continue until six as the high yielders have the potential for mastitis during the next lactation,” says Andrew. Consistency in management is critical – whether it be milking times, ration or parlour routines. “Milking time is milking time,” says Andrew, praising the team of 10 milkers who stick to the guidelines. “If it’s 2pm then it’s 2pm – not 10 to or 10 past,” he insists. The other milkings take place at 5.30am and 9pm. Also, ensuring maize is unopened for at least six weeks and only a late (late May/early June) first cut grass silage is included in the milking ration, all help

with consistency. No grazing or parlour concentrates are offered. ”If you want to give them acidosis and screw up their insides give them young lush grass silage,” says Bill. Breeding The brothers focus on producing a uniform herd of cubicle cows which are not too big, but have plenty of strength. “Locomotion and lifespan are important in bull choice, and legs and feet, and even teat length, could be a deal breaker,” says Andrew, who has straws of Tiergan, Ross, Armstead, Bossman, Destry and Gillespy in the tank. “But we don’t particularly select for milk production, and find even daughters of low milk bulls will hit our herd average.” Bill adds: “I believe 90 per cent of Holstein cows in the UK have the potential to give 12,000 litres – it’s just management and nutrition which haven’t kept pace.”

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Only Leptavoid-H protects against both strains of Leptospirosis. The disease causes milk drop, abortion, fertility drop and loss of appetite. Leptospirosis can also be passed onto humans and an infected herd can pose a risk to you, your family and staff. Only Leptavoid-H is licensed and proven to improve fertility in herds where Leptospirosis has been diagnosed. In a UK study on herds with a high prevalence of Leptospirosis, vaccination with Leptavoid-H increased the overall conception rate by 69%1 Reference 1. Dhaliwal GS et al. Vet Record 1996; 138: 334-335 Use medicines responsibly. For more information visit Leptavoid-H is a vaccine containing Leptospira interrogans serovar hardjo 204 (inactivated). Legal category: POM-VPS . Contact your veterinary surgeon for further information and advice. Leptavoid-H is the property of Intervet International B.V. or affiliated companies or licensors and is protected by copyrights, trademark and other intellectual property laws. Copyright Š 2012 Intervet International B.V. All rights reserved. Further information is available from: MSD Animal Health, Walton Manor, Walton, Milton Keynes MK7 7AJ Tel: 01908 685 685


**DF Feb p14 15 Potter_Layout 1 24/01/2013 14:05 Page 1



This month, Ian Potter concentrates on the widely acclaimed Semex conference and tells us about the vibes he picked up there about the future of the industry.

From April, purchasers who do not adopt the code will be publicly named and shamed



FU president Peter Kendall trumpeted the leadership shown by former Farming Minister Jim Paice in getting the Voluntary Code of Practice signed off, but he stressed that it does not exclude co-ops. That is a point for discussion, however, and what is clearly frustrating Mr Kendall is the fact AFMP members negotiated an exemption from the code on the basis they were a business ‘in transition’ to becoming a co-op. Despite this, five months later, AFMP has failed to produce a road map or timetable. They are clearly directs, and Mr Kendall wants its members to bang the drum to demand their organisation signs up to the code. In my opinion, the uptake of the code has, to date, been painfully slow. I reckon if Jim Paice were still around he would be kicking backsides very hard by now given that five months have elapsed since it was signed off. From my research about 1773 British dairy farmers are able to change milk buyer within three months notice, and they supply Dairy Crest, Muller-Wiseman Dairies or Lactalis. Note an additional 843 producers supplying Dairy Crest and Muller-Wiseman on aligned retailer formula prices are excluded because they have signed up to an independently verified formula. Mr Paice’s successor, David Heath, will



be judged according to how successful the code of practice will be, but as I write, only these three processors have implemented or will implement the code’s three month notice. Mr Kendall was all guns blazing at the Semex conference, declaring the coalition will push Government to regulate if the code is ‘not adopted and functioning as designed’, and if processors and co-ops delay they ‘will face the consequences’. There is little doubt that from April, the 80 approved purchasers who do not adopt the code will be publicly named and shamed. So what do I think of it? Well I would argue a milk supply team dealing with exfarm gate milk price changes has a dramatically different attitude when it knows it could lose producers within three months, as opposed to one who bathes in the comfort of a 12 to 24-month notice period, and which believes if it gets it wrong any dissent can be smoothed out during that oh-so long notice period. But I can also understand why a company which has invested £250m or so in UK dairying hasn’t had a culture of three-month notice periods, especially if it is still grappling with a merger etc, etc, and isn’t going to gleefully shout ‘how high?’ as soon as the NFU (which hasn’t invested a penny, remember) says ‘jump’. Equally, I can also understand why a buyer at the bottom of the milk price table might be nervous too. The voluntary code has the potential to

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‘Jim Paice would be kicking backsides hard’

Ian Potter

rIan is a specialist milk quota and entitlement broker. Comments please to

add power and value, and needs courageous producers and processors who want to make it work. The success will be dependant on dairy farmers, so, if you want the code applied to you it’s down to you and your representatives to make it work. Two purchasers have rather smugly suggested to me that they will not adopt it either, because, as a co-op they are exempt, or simply because it states it is ‘voluntary’. I detect some naïve protectionism creeping in, but in my opinion such a policy will work in the short term but not in the long term. It is perhaps no surprise the bulk of producers who have been in contact with me claiming they want to leave their current milk buyer, do not supply either Muller, Dairy Crest or Lactalis. Muller-Wiseman boss Ronald Kers was bullish and positive as he took to the podium. He outlined the devastating numbers behind the 2012 collapse in cream values – with 450,000 tonnes of UK cream valued at £710m in 2011, and one year later its value was £520m – representing a loss to the industry of £190m. (And the processors knocked it off the farm gate milk price, remember – the last domino in the pack rule again!) Muller intends to take charge of its own destiny and to be in a better position if cream prices collapse again, hence the building of the UK’s largest butter plant at Market Drayton costing £17m. This will have the capacity to process all MullerWiseman’s bulk cream (90,000 tonnes) into 45,000 tonnes of butter, and puts the company in a much stronger position. Mr Kers pointed out the UK imports £2.24bn


of dairy product and exports only £1.11bn, leaving a staggering deficit of £1bn. He also asked a similar question to that which I have previously posed in this column, namely: “What is the strategy to capitalise on the opportunities these figures present?” In reality, with quotas ending in two years do we have a plan to restore the UK dairy trade balance? On recruitment, it is set to be the battle of the giants with Arla recruiting to fill its new plant at Aylesbury and Muller keen to have a larger percentage of its milk coming from direct suppliers. I wonder how this will play out for First Milk, which currently brokers close to 60% of its milk. Finally, I will comment on the Irish Farmers Association’s plan for the ending of quotas in 2015, as presented at the conference by Catherine Lascurettes. Its 18,000 farmers currently produce 5.2bn litres of milk, of which 85% is exported with a staggering peak to trough production ratio of 1 to 7. Its target is to increase production by 50% to 7.8bn litres and to export 7bn litres (90%) of its production to an expanding global market. Ms Lascurettes confirmed rapidly rising heifer numbers of all ages are now on the ground in preparation for expansion, with numbers expected to be 50% up by 2016 compared to those in 2010. The only question is whether Ireland will be able to find circa £2bn to achieve its ambitions. So, can GB compete with the Irish? Is it a question of mind-set or are some of our leaders lacking the ambition and vision shown by the Irish?




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If anyone had doubts about Muller-Wiseman’s ambitions for its presence in the UK dairy industry, they won’t have after this year’s Semex dairy conference in Glasgow. Chris Walkland reports.

MW launches plans for its £17m butter plant

eynote speaker Ronald Kers, chief executive officer for Muller UK and Ireland, used the platform to announce a major £17m investment in a butter plant and a significant recruitment campaign. Most of MW’s 90,000t annual cream production has to be exported, and converting it to butter will reduce the 102,000t of butter imports to the UK and reduce the company’s exposure to volatile cream prices. While that, and the proposed recruitment, were good news for farmers, he presented some sobering financial statistics. The retail value of milk had fallen £231m between 2009 and 2012, he stated, with volume growth only up 36m litres. And in 2012 there had been a £190m loss in cream values too. That financial loss was a key driver in the decision to invest in butter. “Although this will not protect us completely from volatility in global markets, it will give us options which we currently don’t have.




Ronald Kers: butter plant.

That’s good news for us, and for the dairy farmers who supply us,” he said. Part of MW’s plan for the industry, he said, was to displace imports and grow the number of farmer suppliers, and to do that with ‘a sense of urgency’. Its recruitment drive is to begin in the spring. Irish market Catherine Lascurettes, executive secretary of the National Dairy and Liquid Milk Committee of the Irish Farmers’ Association, spoke reassuringly about the growth of the Irish market post 2015. She believed that a 50% increase in Irish production, which had been outlined as a target by the Irish Government, was probably not feasible, but that a 25%


Alex Bandini: price falls.

to 30% increase might be. But that would depend on margins to farmers being good, and provided they can secure around €1.5bn for the investment needed to facilitate the growth. And that investment is not just for farms. The Irish co-ops there will need money too. The trouble is the banks there are even more reluctant to lend than they are here. Even if farmers produce a lot more milk it will not end up in cheese in the UK, she said. Its major stainless steel investment in Ireland is in two new powder plants. No new cheese plants have been announced yet. She said Ireland was well placed to capitalise on 2015 and the freeing up of the quota regime. It has low production costs, good

grass and a politically supportive Government. “But there are a lot of difficulties to overcome too. No one should be worried the UK market will be flooded after 2015. There will be new markets for Ireland in Asia, the BRIC countries, North and South Africa and Europe, and we will continue to make the full range of dairy products, not just cheese,” she added. Alex Bandini, consumer insight director at consumer experts Kantar Worldpanel, undoubtedly stole the show for the most startling comment of the conference. Speaking about the retail milk price at the time of the price protests last summer, he provided figures to show fresh milk sales remained stable with just 0.9% growth through the two key protest months of July and August. However, prices fell by 5%. Aldi and Lidl stores saw volume growth up 18%, and a price fall of 0.2%; the Co-operative and Waitrose saw a volume rise of 10% each, but price falls of 10% and 6% respectively; while Asda also saw prices fall 6%, with its volume sales down 4%.

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You may not have heard much about A2 milk, but that is about to change with a big marketing campaign to raise public awareness. Delegates at the British Cattle Conference heard how it is about to boost producer incomes, as Ann Hardy reports.

Gearing up to promote the benefits of A2 milk campaign to promote A2 milk is hitting the media through early 2013, supported by a welloiled operation orchestrated by a joint venture company called A2Milk UK. Behind the campaign with A2Milk UK are a


group of milk producers from Shropshire, Staffordshire and Cheshire, whose story was unfolded at the British Cattle Conference by Pete Nicholson, agricultural affairs manager for Muller Wiseman Dairies – the UK partner in the venture created with Australia’s A2 Corporation.

Gearing up for A2 milk production began when participants’ herds were tested for the frequency of A2:A2 cattle. “We obtained the equipment from Australia, trained a small team of staff and set about taking samples from 2600 cattle,” said Mr Nicholson.

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Pete Nicholson: supply premium.

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BREEDING Based on the Australian experience, about 35% of each herd was expected to be A2:A2, reassuringly close to the UK figure which came back at 37%. So incentives were established to recruit participants, with the requirement that they were sited close enough to supply the Muller Wiseman Droitwich processing plant. Producers would not only receive a 2.5ppl premium over the standard nonaligned MW price, but a further 1ppl would be available for the first 12 months for milk from existing cows in the herd that tested A2:A2.

Other animals which had to be purchased would not qualify for the additional 1p on the milk produced, but instead attracted a subsidy of £350 a head. Strategies Strategies have varied across producers, with some having sold out all non-A2 cattle and some keeping two separate ‘herds’ and investing in the tank and infrastructure to keep the A2 milk separate. This milk is tested weekly and has to be to a tolerance of 99%. Today, 20 farms have signed up and 16 are now supplying milk totalling more than 50,000 litres a

A2 Milk Q&A What is it and what are its benefits? All cows’ milk contains beta-casein proteins of either the A1 or A2 type, or a mixture of the two. The difference between the A1 and A2 proteins lies in just one amino acid. Some people appear to resist the digestion of A1 betacasein and say they feel discomfort after its consumption. Milk which contains only the A2 form of betacasein is produced by cows which have two copies of the A2 allele. In other words, they are

homozygous A2:A2 animals, and it is only this type of animal that can supply so-called A2 milk. Animals which produce both types of beta-casein have a copy of each allele, are designated A1:A2 and cannot supply the A2 chain. Who is behind it? The campaign to produce A2 milk in the UK has been orchestrated by joint venture company, A2Milk UK, formed between Australia’s A2 Corporation Limited and Muller Wiseman Dairies.

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AUTUMN calving herds may well be turning their attention to calf management at this time of year, in particular dehorning or disbudding this season’s calves. Preferably carried out as disbudding, when calves are between two and six weeks old, the aim is to remove the horn bud before it fuses with the skull. Removing horns at this stage is not only quicker, easier and a lot less messy, but it can be easier on calves1. In recent years there have been major advances in our understanding of pain in farm animals, which has led to changes in the way we approach painful conditions and procedures.

Stress Pain in farm animals can increase stress, adversely affect normal behaviour such as lying and feeding, reduce weight gain, and ultimately reduce animal welfare2,3. Dehorning is no exception. Studies have shown adverse physiological and production-related effects due to pain associated with dehorning. These include an increase in stress hormone levels, an increase in head shaking, a reduction in the time spent grazing, more time spent lying down and a decrease in ruminal activity in older calves4. The acute pain of dehorning is normally controlled by using local anaesthetic. UK legislation states that local anaesthesia must be used to desensitise the horn area prior to undertaking dehorning. However, it is important to recognise that the routinely used local anaesthetic agents have only a short duration of activity – about one to two hours. As a result, it is common to witness an increase in pain responses around one to four hours after dehorning in the absence of other pain relief as the local anaesthesia wears off5. Research has shown the pain associated with dehorning lasts up to 44 hours, and this is where the long-acting non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID), Metacam for Cattle® – now licensed to control the pain associated with dehorning – can be used to bridge the gap2,6. This new licence for dehorning is the first for an NSAID. The analgesic effect of Metacam® has been shown to last up to three days. Knowing it reduces the pain and stress of dehorning and also increases feed intake7, means Metacam is ideally suited for calves undergoing dehorning. References: 1. Petrie et al (1996) N. Z. Vet. J. 44: 9–14; 2. Heinrich et al (2009) J. Dairy Sci. 92:540–547; 3. McMeekan et al (1999) N. Z. Vet. J. 47: 92-96; 4. Sylvester et al (2004) Aust. Vet. J. 82: 697-700; 5. Stewart et al 2009 J. Dairy. Sci. 92:15121519; 6. Heinrich et al (2010). J. Dairy. Sci. 93:2450-2457; 7. JF Coetzee et al (2012) BMC Vet. Res. 8(1):153.

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day. A further four will join by mid-2013, taking the total daily production to over 60,000 litres. “We have sufficient suppliers to match demand for the time being, so while we are happy to discuss the opportunity with anyone interested, we are not currently pushing for more,” said Mr Nicholson. “However, we know we will have to spread the milk field wider than the existing counties if we replicate the Australian experience.” An advertising campaign fronted by celebrity Dannii Minogue – an advocate of the product – began at the end of January and will impact on demand and the eventual requirement for more suppliers. Meanwhile, 750 stores –

A2 Milk Q&A How is it inherited? The inheritance of the A2 allele is simple, such that a homozygous A2:A2 female bred with a homozygous A2:A2 male will always produce A2:A2 offspring. However, an A1:A2 animal bred to an A2:A2 animal could throw an A2:A2 calf, but there is a chance the calf could be A1:A2. Dairy bulls are increasingly being tested for the A2:A2 gene. How big is the UK market? Projections for the UK market are based on the Australian experience where 4% by volume and 6% by value of the liquid market is now taken by A2 milk. This is larger than organic, lactose-free, fresh soya and goat’s milk sales combined. Studies show around 20% of British

including Tesco, Morrisons, Budgens, Waitrose and Booths – are stocking A2 milk, where two litres retail at about £1.99. Mr Nicholson says the company will not be making sensational claims, nor delivering messages which are non-proven. “The proof for A2 is in a product that continues to build a passionate consumer base by way of improving the quality of life for thousands in Australia and an increasing number in the UK. “We need to get value back into the sector, and while A2 will not do it alone, we believe it will help. A2 offers a strong consumer benefit, delivering a natural answer to the needs of the one in five UK consumers who struggle with drinking milk,” he said. consumers do not drink milk but that only 5-6% of these have been clinically proven to be lactose intolerant. The remainder are said to be potentially intolerant of A1 beta-casein, so that A2 milk could allow them to drink milk. Who can produce it? Technically, anyone who wants to breed and buy A2 cows. However, Australia’s A2 Corporation owns a suite of intellectual property rights relating to testing, breeding and herd formation of animals used to produce A2 MILK® (which they have registered as a trademark), and its subsequent production and sale. Any person producing and selling A2 milk outside the A2Milk UK joint venture may be infringing those IP rights.

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VET’S VIEW This month, freshly qualified vet Emily Gascoigne is brought face to face with the dangers involved in the job as she starts the second phase of her dairy internship with Synergy Farm Health in Dorset.

You just can’t be too careful when working with livestock s a young vet, the job is full of challenges. Tricky calvings, first nights on call, and your first large TB test are some of the many obstacles you have to face. Farm safety is discussed from an early stage in veterinary school with an emphasis on machinery, bull handling and pharmaceuticals. But some hazards are obvious and risks can be easily mitigated whereas others cannot. One of my aims for my year as an intern is to improve my surgical skills, and with the opportunity to




shadow experienced colleagues the practice offers the perfect learning environment. At the end of my first working week, I assisted with wound surgery on an adult dairy cow. Despite being restrained in a crush, sedated and given local nerve blocks, she still managed a well-aimed kick during surgery. The swift blow to my left hand meant I was unable to finish the surgery singlehandedly, so reinforcements were called, and a visit to A&E proved unsuccessful in detecting anything


significant. I subsequently developed an impressive swelling and a bruise to match but both quickly subsided.

Fracture However, two weeks later, I decided another trip to the doctor was warranted. I had developed an unusual bony swelling and something didn’t feel right. A quick x-ray revealed a ‘whopping’ fracture of one of the metacarpals in my hand. The delay in diagnosis meant it was too late to cast and that I would have to wait the healing process out – in the office. No manual

work for me until at least six weeks post-trauma. This young vet was grounded! The weeks passed quickly at first. At the practice we have a ‘phone-duty’ vet who waits in the practice in the morning to assist with telephone advice and help in the Synergy dispensary. Although daunting at first, with calls ranging from mastitis queries, through choking goats to alpacas with weepy eyes, it was a good learning experience. Phone duty can present with a great variety of cases. Some are very straightforward queries about drug doses or worming advice, but some cases can be more complicated. A memorable case involved a young pedigree dairy bull. His owner contacted the practice requesting an extension to an antibiotic course. Discussion with the client revealed the bull had become inappetent and was passing little or no faeces. I recommended a visit and the bull was found to have an inoperable hernia and euthanasia was required. Although I felt like the grim

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VET’S VIEW Joint ill facts rBacterial joint infection in animals usually under seven days old rOriginates from navel and spreads via blood rDry clean bedding and dip navel with iodine. reaper, encouraging the client to have the bull examined in this case potentially prevented this bull from having a slow and painful demise and the client the additional expense of drugs. A less dramatic case involved a client who

contacted the practice concerned about a group of young calves who had developed stiffness in their back legs. The animals affected were less than two weeks old and were otherwise generally bright and content. The farmer was concerned these calves were developing joint ill and wanted to know the most appropriate treatment and how he could prevent cases in future. Discussion revealed the affected calves had been born outside during the floods and navel dipping was not common practice, despite meticulous colostrum management.

I recommended a bedding change, navel dipping with tincture of iodine twice within the first 12 hours of birth, and to continue with their current colostrum routine. A follow up phonecall revealed the affected calves had improved with treatment and no more cases had developed. Young farmers Despite having my wings clipped professionally, I have begun to spread them socially. Joining the Dorset Young Farmers has been a double-edged sword as, inevitably, some of them are clients of the practice. ‘Busting moves’ at the

annual young farmers ball on the Saturday, followed by a farm visit on the Monday, can make for plenty of ribbing. Likewise, the legend of the ‘vet who broke her hand in week one’ spread like wildfire. Although only just starting out on my journey as a farm vet, it has already thrown up trials and tribulations. My time in the office was both frustrating and rewarding, but mostly it invigorated my passion for the job. In reality, working with livestock can be unpredictable and dangerous, and sometimes, despite minimising the risks, accidents can still happen.




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If your herd isn’t already playing host to the disease, it can very easily be brought onto the farm. Vet Drew McGurren, from MSD Animal Health, tells us how to minimise exposure.

Is your herd at risk from leptospirosis? L eptospirosis is typically a hidden disease causing widespread losses in dairy herds and even posing a threat to human health. Tests show the bacteria is present in hundreds of herds throughout the country, meaning all dairy cows are at risk. In fact, as the disease has become endemic across the UK, so the background symptoms – such as poor fertility, depressed appetite and sick calves for which no one may have suspected a specific underlying cause – are a more likely consequence of leptospirosis than the obvious visible signs. Estimates put the cost of the disease at £70/cow, equating to a loss of up to £7000 per 100 cows. A large proportion of this comes from lost pregnancies and poor fertility.

Biosecurity Consider all potential sources of infection on the farm. These include: ■ Co-grazing sheep ■ Bought-in animals ■ Natural service sires ■ Water courses Develop a biosecurity plan to limit these routes of infection.

Regularly test for presence of the bacteria.

In a study, unvaccinated herds had an overall conception rate (OCR) of 29% compared to an OCR of 49% in vaccinated herds. And with a massive 64 per cent of UK dairy herds recently shown to have been exposed to leptospirosis, the disease may be inflicting a huge financial burden across the whole of our milk production. But these losses can be avoided according to vet Drew McGurren, from MSD Animal Health, who says there’s a good argument for regularly testing your herd to see if the offending bacteria are present.


To offer a safeguard, ensure bio-security controls are in place and consider vaccination, which can protect animals that are free from disease. Similarly, if the herd is already infected,

Drew McGurren: losses.

vaccination can help to raise the level of immunity and reduce shedding of the bacteria through the cow’s urine. One likely strategy is to tackle every source of infection, which for leptospirosis comes down to two key strains of bacteria. “In the UK this will mean using LeptavoidTM-H as it is the only vaccine licensed to protect against both Leptospira hardjo prajitno and Leptospira hardjo bovis,” he explains. Similarly, protocols for using the vaccine should be carefully applied to ensure the vaccination programme has the desired effect. “This means following manufacturer’s recommendations, using the right dose at the right time and through the right route, and looking after the vaccine properly when it is stored,” he adds.

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SPONSORED SERIES Leptavoid-H The product is licensed: ■ Against both strains of leptospirosis ■ To improve herd fertility, where L. hardjo is diagnosed ■ To be administered at the same time as Bovilis BVD.

“Careful planning is needed to ensure animals are protected before turnout in spring which is a key time for transmission,” he continues. “The bacteria are waterloving and can survive for months in the environment.” Biosecurity considerations should revolve around any potential source of infection. “Research has shown herds are more likely to be positive for leptospirosis if stock are bought in, natural service used, have contact with sheep or access to watercourses,” says Mr McGurren. Transmission Further concerns revolve around its transmission to man through the shedding of bacteria in the urine of infected animals which may splash into eyes, wounds or even the mouth. “If you have flu-like symptoms such as a fever, headache or muscular pain, it’s important to mention any connection with cattle to your doctor,” says Mr McGurren. “If you’re suspicious leptospirosis may be impairing herd performance, it’s better to vaccinate rather than waste time agonising over whether you should or shouldn’t,” he claims.

Protect your cattle from unseen danger aximising herd fertility while at the same time as minimising the disease risk from bought-in animals has been central to the decision to vaccinate for leptospirosis at Farley Farms, Reading. Coupled with that is the reassurance of protecting the health of staff and any visitors to the farm. While vaccination comes at a cost, farm herd manager John Trott is keen to minimise any potential losses that may arise from various on-farm challenges. "We have watercourses running through the farm and over winter sheep, both of which are high risks when it comes to leptospirosis,” he says. “On top of this, dry cows graze some low-lying water meadows during the summer, and in a wet year like last year there is often standing water on this ground which can pose a significant risk of disease spread too. “Vaccination cuts out any worry of these risk factors affecting the herd,” says Mr Trott. The 200-cow herd at Farley Farms has a target yield of 9000 litres/cow/year and supplies Marks and Spencer with milk for its low saturated fat range. And being on the Marks and


Standing water from floods can cause a significant risk.

Spencer contract is another driver for keeping the herd healthy and fertile, he says. Youngstock for the herd are sent off to a calf rearer at one week old, and remain there until six weeks before calving. They are also under a strict vaccination programme which features Leptavoid-H among other vaccines, says their vet Phil McIntosh of Westpoint Farm Vets.

Embryonic loss “They are vaccinated at 10 months old to ensure they are fully protected before being served at 13 to 14 months. This helps to prevent the chances of early embryonic loss and abortion which can result from leptospirosis infection.” Protecting staff health from the zoonotic risk leptospirosis poses is another key part in the farm’s vaccination policy, says Mr Trott. “There are only two of us

SD Animal Health, manufacturer of Leptavoid-H

on the unit, working one weekend on and one off. “We also host a number of school visits on the farm and we couldn't afford the risk of any health issues affecting the children,” he maintains. To cut down the risk from on-farm watercourses, Mr Trott has fenced most of them off to prevent cattle access. “We vaccinate the herd prior to turnout to ensure they're protected for the full grazing season,” he adds. Mr McIntosh says: “In this situation with this number of risk factors, vaccination is without doubt the best way of protecting cattle staff and visitors. “Leptospirosis can cause significant fertility issues and at a time when dairy farming margins are under pressure then anything which can be done to protect herd health and productivity is an essential insurance policy,” he says.




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Buying-in cows can be risky strategy for herd

TB outbreak and the loss of 25 milking cattle in six months forced Cullompton-based Richard and Sally Reed to vaccinate for leptospirosis; despite their pedigree Allerways herd having always been free of the disease. “We’d been a closed herd for more than six years and have no sheep on the farm and cattle can't drink from watercourses, so we had managed to avoid the disease.,” says Mr Reed. “As a result we'd never felt the need to vaccinate before. However, having lost so many milking cattle to TB we needed to buy in replacements to keep the herd yield up.” But limiting their choice to naive stock would have significantly cut their choice. “As soon as you start restricting the type of cow you can buy, you leave yourself with much less choice, and it may have been a backward step for the herd's development. “As it happened there was a sale in December with some cows we liked the look of, so we decided to vaccinate the herd at home in readiness for buying something in. Staying naive and buying-in wasn’t an option as there would have been a leptospirosis titre showing up in the bulk milk sample, and we wouldn't have known if it was a vaccinated animal or not.”


Richard and Sally Reed with new options to safely buy in replacements.

The Reeds now use Leptavoid-H to vaccinate all their milking cows, in-calf heifers and bulling heifers, with youngstock due to be vaccinated this spring. “We already vaccinate for both BVD and IBR, so we’ve got everything covered now we're vaccinated for leptospirosis too,” adds Mr Reed. Risk to staff With a relief milker also working on the farm, Mr Reed says human health was also a consideration. “The relief milker has had leptospirosis before and had been suggesting we ought to vaccinate, but with the herd always being clear it was hard to justify the cost.” Looking ahead, Mr Reed says being vaccinated may be of further benefit in the longrun as it could help future stock sales.

“Before we went down with TB we were just starting to sell a few surplus heifers and that is one area of extra income I'd like to expand in the years to come. “The herd is averaging about 9000 litres and I'd sooner milk fewer cows at 10,000 litres and sell some surplus heifers. Expansion would be difficult because of slurry storage on this farm but we could boost income by selling heifers. Being leptospirosis vaccinated would be a help with sales I'm sure,” he believes. The farm’s vet, Duncan Findlay, of the Vale Vet Group, says the family was left with no choice but to vaccinate following the loss of so many cattle to TB. “If they had bought in an infected animal, then their naive herd could have suffered a catastrophic breakdown,” says Mr Findlay. “That isn't a risk anyone can afford to take,” he adds.

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**DF Feb p24 27 Lepto Month VER 1_Layout 1 25/01/2013 12:17 Page 4


Vaccination is key in keeping leptospirosis under control

ncoming stock represent the biggest disease risk any herd faces and with leptospirosis having the potential to have a devastating effect on herd fertility and productivity, vet Richard Thomas of XL Vet member practice Willows Vet Group, says quarantine and vaccination of new animals is essential. “It may seem a trivial thing to consider, but whenever you are buying in new cattle, be they milking cows, heifers or simply a stock bull, you should always ask about their vaccination status,” he warns. “While both co-grazing with sheep and drinking from natural watercourses are significant risk factors for leptospirosis, by far the greatest risk is from new animals entering the herd.” Cheshire-based Mr Thomas says wherever possible new stock should be isolated from the main herd until they have completed their vaccination course to ensure there is minimal risk of infection passing to the resident herd. “Taking the time to consult your vet before buying new stock is also important as it allows time for a quarantine


Buying in a new stock bull can be a big risk factor.

Richard Thomas: quarantine.

and vaccination strategy to be put in place.” It is not just new stock which require careful thought and planning. It is of paramount importance to ensure home-bred replacements are vaccinated in good time before they are at risk, and that means before they are served for the first time, explains Mr Thomas. Maiden heifers “Maiden heifers should receive both of their initial leptospirosis vaccinations before they are served to cut out the chances of them becoming infected and subsequently aborting and having fertility issues.” In one case seen by Mr Thomas, a replacement stock bull was identified as

the most likely cause of a significant, and costly, leptospirosis outbreak. “It presented as a major mastitis flare up, with a number of cows affected in all four quarters and antibiotic tubes failing to get on top of it,” he says. “Finding the cause was a challenge and the sudden death of one freshly-calved cow left us none the wiser. On post-mortem inspection, the only major sign was a myriad of small haemorrhages throughout the body. “The AHVLA could find no obvious cause of death and it was only further research which prompted the thought of leptospirosis.” But once that had been identified as a possible source of infection, the decision to vaccinate a

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previously naive herd was the only course of action, says Mr Thomas. “Remarkably the problems started to clear up almost immediately and within a week or so of the whole herd having had their second initial vaccination the mastitis disappeared completely.” It did though leave its mark on the herd, with 40 out of 130 cows infected before the cause was identified. “Taking the time to check the health status of the new stock bull, and quarantine and vaccinate him accordingly, could have avoided the issue in the first place. As a consequence the herd is now routinely vaccinated along with all the youngstock to avoid a repeat situation.”




**DF Feb p28 29 Vogelsang _Layout 1 24/01/2013 14:07 Page 1


A new tanker-mounted slurry injector from Vogelsang creates tilled soil strips in stubble into which maize can be established. Martin Rickatson watched the machine at work.

Strip tillage system set to slash drilling costs he concept of strip tillage, leaving the soil between cropped rows uncultivated to reduce fuel usage and support later field traffic, is becoming increasingly popular in combinable crops. Now a recent introduction by German equipment

specialist Vogelsang aims to enable maize growers to benefit from this principle Mounted on the rear of any compatible slurry tanker, the XTill has been specifically designed to cultivate bands of soil and inject slurry at a depth of 15-25cm into the tilled soil strips. Using GPS-guided



steering to ensure exactly the same tracks are followed, itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s then possible to subsequently drill maize into these cultivated strips, with the slurry nutrients being available immediately to the crop roots without risk of seedling scorch. Less odour Vogelsang UK agricultural sales manager Sion Williams says: â&#x20AC;&#x153;In addition to creating a method of min-tilling maize, the system also offers a much improved way of applying slurry so its odour is contained and risk of runoff is minimised.â&#x20AC;? With a six-metre working width, the XTill, which weighs just 3.3 tonnes, can

be easily handled by most tanker-mounted external linkage systems with category 3, 3N or 4N ends. Its eight width-adjustable units are mounted on parallelogram linkages, with individual hydraulic press and depth control. â&#x20AC;&#x153;Each unit comprises a cutting disc with a centre base for accurate depth control, followed by an angled star wheel to clear stubble and straw,â&#x20AC;? Mr Williams says. â&#x20AC;&#x153;Behind this, a tine coulter runs in the opening created, and slurry is fed from the tanker down a pipe which runs down its spine. â&#x20AC;&#x153;Angled pairs of notched discs then follow to refill the slot with loose soil,










Units comprise a cutting disc, angled star wheel, tine coulter with slurry pipe, notched refilling discs and angled press wheels.

**DF Feb p28 29 Vogelsang _Layout 1 24/01/2013 14:08 Page 2


Germination The process is claimed to give seed the best chance of germinating quickly, with roots able to grow unimpeded straight down towards moisture and slurry nutrients. In dry conditions, water evaporation is prevented by the previous plant matter on the surface and the non-inversion of the soil, while in heavy rain, water absorption is aided by the untilled soil rows. Mr Williams says other benefits of strip tilling maize include reduced potential for weed establishment because of less seed disturbance, and improved soil water storage. In addition to the S-spec slurry version, Vogelsang is also offering a B-spec version of the XTill without slurry injection equipment for use with liquid fertiliser systems. More information at www.vogel Plus, an online calculator showing savings in establishment costs is available at rechner.php.

Using GPS, maize drills can later follow the tilled strips created by the XTill slurry injection system.

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while the final component is a pair of angled steel or rubber press wheels which firm loose soil back into the slot,” he says. By moving only the soil into which the seed rows are sown, the cost of establishing maize using strip-till is considerably lower than comparable conventional tillage, says Mr Williams. “As well as fuel use being reduced there are also a number of environmental benefits. Soil structure is enhanced because the majority remains undisturbed, and rain retention is improved because of the pore spaces opened up by the loosened soil rows.”


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**DF Feb p30 31 Maize Grainseed_Layout 1 25/01/2013 10:12 Page 1


According to Grainseed’s James Todd, an analysis of 50-plus UK trial sites from the last three years suggests most of us should be growing earlier, more robust maize varieties.

Marginal varieties stake claim for better ground

he established thinking of high yielding group 6 and 7 varieties for warmer regions, and ultra early group 8s and above for more marginal areas, is seriously under question. According to James Todd, of forage specialist Grainseed, the experiences



of many growers in 2012 have underlined what many in the industry have felt for some years. But it is no longer just a hunch – three years of data from Grainseed’s extensive trials programme analysed by the Crop and Environment Research Centre (CERC) at Harper Adams shows early varieties

outperforming traditional high yielders across most of the UK. “In all but the most ideal locations, group 8-10s have outperformed the group 6–7s that previously would have been the first choice for yield and quality. “If you focus on the south-west of England, where a lot of maize is grown and we get relatively high heat units, the stand out variety has actually been a group 9 which has consistently produced around 15-20% more starch in both 2010 and 2011 than most group 7 varieties.”

Regional data Even at Grainseed’s most southerly trial site at Helston, Cornwall, the group 9 variety Coastguard delivered a total starch yield of 6.1 tonnes/ha – some 12% higher than the nearest group 7 variety at 5.4 tonnes/ha in 2010. Similarly, at the company’s St Austell trials site, top slot over the last three years has been held by group 8 and 9 varieties, while at Crediton, Devon, an ultra early group 10



James Todd: high starch yields.

variety achieved the highest dry matter yield in 2011. Bill Blake of Paschoe Farm, where the Crediton trials are situated, says the findings made him totally rethink his varietal choice. “We used to go for Group 6 and 7 varieties, but found much more consistency, and similar yields, from earlier varieties such as group 8 variety Ballade and even Group 10s and 9s such as Picker and Coastguard. “Last year both Picker and Ballade delivered high starch yields. The late crop of Coastguard we drilled after another failed, also finished properly with a good yield,” he says. Mr Todd says it is not just in the South West where the

**DF Feb p30 31 Maize Grainseed_Layout 1 25/01/2013 10:13 Page 2


New varieties such as group 9 Coastguard (centre) and group 8 Ballade (either side) are outperforming conventional group 6-7 varieties.

The genetics of earlier varieties have improved to allow them to achieve 90% performance in marginal years when 6-7 groups would suffer.

tables are being turned. “Even in the most stable maize growing areas, the top spot is likely to be held by a group 8 or 9 rather than anything lower.” At the trials site at Jeremy Wilson’s farm near Canterbury, the group 8 variety Dominator has produced dry matter yields of 24t/ha, with starch contents approaching 40% giving a total starch yield of 8.9 tonnes/ha. “In a perfect year in a perfect location, the real high yielders will still deliver, but our trials show a much safer bet is to step up to a higher maturity group or two,” says Mr Todd. “We all know in 2012 many people, with hindsight, would have been better off growing earlier varieties than they chose, but the fact these findings are based on the last three years suggest the issue is deeper.” Far more relevant is the considerable strides made in genetics of the new earlier varieties which allow them to perform virtually the same as high yielders in good years, but achieve 90% of this performance in more marginal years when the group 6 and 7s can suffer more heavily. “But our trials clearly suggest far from this being a formula for reduced yields and quality, most producers will achieve more than they do now by following this route,” he claimed.




**DF Feb p32 34 Maize Yukon_Layout 1 25/01/2013 10:17 Page 1

MAIZE Although wheat as an energy source may be easier to grow than maize, it does lack some of the beneficial attributes when it comes to rumen digestion.

Maize starch benefits from slow degradation

nergy in the form of starch is one of the main drivers of milk yield and quality, but fastdegrading starches, as found in wheat, can upset rumen pH balance and reduce optimal rumen fermentation, affecting milk yield and quality. The starch in maize kernels has a slower rumen degradation, making it a ‘safer’ option, and it can also boost production through the presence of bypass starch. “Wheat and maize crops provide most home-grown


starch for dairy rations in the UK,” says Mole Valley Farmers’ senior nutritionist Peter Isaac. “Typically, wheat starch is included in rations as wholecrop silage, or the grains are crimped or caustic treated.” Maize is mainly fed as silage, or crops can be combined for the grain, which is then crimped. Alternatively, corn cob mix CCM (ground ear maize) can be made by harvesting the whole cob – grains, sheath and spindle. For CCM, the crop does not need to dry down as much as for crimping, so it

Starch potential will not be reached if cobs have not matured by harvest.

can be cut just a few weeks after the forage harvest, rather than months later. Mr Isaac says: “On paper, the relative starch and energy contents of these wheat and maize deriva-

tives look similar.” (See Table). “However, in practice, their nutritional value is very different due to the speed of starch degradation in the rumen.

Table 1: Yields and energy contents of different sources of maize and wheat starch

Dry matter ME range Starch content Freshweight DM yield Starch (%) (MJ/kg DM) (%/DM) yield (t/ha)* (t/ha) * yield (t/ha) * Maize silage 30-35 11.0-11.5 30-35 39.0 11.7–13.6 3.5-4.7 Wholecrop wheat silage 25-55 9.0-12.0 20-25 25.0 6.3–13.7 1.3–3.4 Corn cob mix (GEM) 50-60 12.0-12.5 50-55 12.5 6.3–7.5 3.1–4.1 Crimped grain maize 65-75 14.0-14.5 65-70 10.0 6.5–7.5 4.2–5.3 Crimped wheat 65-75 13.0-13.5 55-60 11.0 7.2–8.3 4.0–5.0 *The actual yields of each crop will be influenced by agronomic practices, variety choice and growing conditions at the site in a given season. The figures shown are a general guide.




DF_02_P33_DF_02_P33 25/01/2013 10:26 Page 21

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**DF Feb p32 34 Maize Yukon_Layout 1 25/01/2013 10:18 Page 2

MAIZE “The starch found in wheat and barley grains ferments quickly, and can lead to an over-production of lactic acid in the rumen, upsetting the pH and killing off some of the rumen microbe population. “This reduces rumen fermentation and the situation can spiral into SARA – sub-acute rumen acidosis – and potentially full-blown acidosis. “By comparison, maize starch ferments much more slowly, representing a ‘safer’ source of starch energy for the cow,” he says. “In a well-balanced ration with adequate sugar and fibre sources, increasing the level of maize starch results in some of it leaving the rumen undegraded. This is known as bypass starch. “This is digested in the small intestine and the glucogenic nutrients which directly drive milk yield and protein content are then directly available to the cow. “Formulating rations to create an amount of bypass



starch will increase milk yields by around 2 litres per cow per day. This increase is still evident in mixed forage rations. “However, this response is dependent on an adequate starch supply being present for the rumen bacteria. If this is lacking, rumen fermentation becomes sub-optimal and performance will only be maintained or could be reduced,” he says. Whether intending to supply maize starch into the diet through forage, CCM or crimped maize, farmers will need to choose varieties which can reliably deliver the best starch yields, says Limagrain’s Tim Richmond: “The varieties selected need to have the proven genetic potential to deliver high yields of starch per hectare and the ability to mature early. A crop’s starch potential will not be reached if cobs have not matured by harvest. “If making CCM or combining grain, crops


Choose a variety with proven genetic potential to deliver high yields of starch per hectare, says Limagrain’s Tim Richmond.

need to be left longer in the field, so varieties need to have the additional attributes of good standing power and resistance to fusarium,” he says. New on the 2013 NIAB List for maize is Yukon, a very early maturing variety. On the Less Favourable List, it delivered a starch yield of 5.97t/ha (2.41t/acre) – 108% of the controls. Last year, in a trial with 13 forage maize varieties carried out by Mole Valley Farmers, Yukon had the best DM yield of 14.01t/ha (5.7t/acre) and the highest starch yield of 4.70t/ha

(1.9t/acre). At this marginal site, in what was a poor growing season, the average yield for DM was 10.4t/ha (4.2t/acre), and for starch 3.2t/ha (1.3t/acre). “Yukon’s earliness and high starch potential also give it the flexibility to be grown for CCM or crimped grain,” says Mr Richmond. Mr Isaac adds: “High purchased feed costs are emphasising the value of home-grown feedstuffs. “Dairy farmers should consider sowing some extra acreage to maize this year and making CCM or crimped maize in addition to silage.”

DF_02_P35_DF_02_P35 25/01/2013 11:40 Page 21


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**DF Feb p36 37 Maize Walley_Layout 1 24/01/2013 14:08 Page 1


After last year’s disastrous season, growers need to go back to basics believes Agrovista’s seeds manager Nigel Walley, who says the first thing to do is undo last year’s field damage.

Ensure basics are right for this season’s crop ne of the first things to do is to check soil indices which will have declined on the back of nutrient loss with all the rain. In addition, there needs to be well-timed cultivation to restructure the soil profile once conditions allow. “Then on the back of this, growers will need to use varieties which have the vigour and maturity to cope with any drilling delay this entails,” says Nigel Walley. One of the big effects, he believes, of the very wet year has been significant leaching of a range of nutrients including potash,


nitrogen and sulphur. Drains have been running constantly and there has been significant field runoff, so nitrogen in particular will have leached, and that was not helped by poor crop uptake and poor root development. Soil testing Mr Walley also says soil pHs – particularly on lighter land – may well have declined over the last year and soil testing is essential to check pH. “At levels below 6.0, potassium, phosphate and magnesium availability drops, so growers need to aim to bring the pH back up to 6.5-7.0 prior to drilling,” he says.

Nigel Walley says check soil status as nutrients will have leached out.

“Many will be using manure to supply nutrients, but rather than take a half educated guess as to what it contains get it tested to provide a true picture of what is likely to be released for the next crop. “This should be supplemented with fertiliser to support periods of peak


need and growth, and phosphate should be applied down the spout, particularly on cold soils, to ensure good establishment. “In addition, potash is crucial and always required in large amounts upwards of 225kg/ha K2O, as without it cob development and ripening is badly affected.

**DF Feb p36 37 Maize Walley_Layout 1 24/01/2013 14:09 Page 2

MAIZE “Equally, a maize crop needs 135-150kg/ha of nitrogen to fuel crop growth and drive forward yield, and this needs to be available from the start of crop growth.” Physical soil conditions remain pretty poor, warns Mr Walley, particularly in fields which were in maize last year. “It is no good dropping the subsoiler leg into the soil and hoping for the best,” he says. “You will need to use a spade to check the depth and extent of any structural damage and plan a series of cultivations to put it right. “Then, before carrying out any work at depth, get the spade out again and check soils are workable at the depth you need to operate. Above all, be patient and if needs be put the contractor off until soils have dried down. “The same goes for seedbed cultivation. We have seen growers and contractors try and get

away with one pass of a power harrow before drilling. This is often not enough and provides a cloddy bed resulting in seed left on the surface and poor seed-to-soil contact. Drill timing “I wouldn’t start drilling before April 12-15, especially if soil temperatures have not reached a consistent 10degC. Drilling in March only works occasionally unless plastic film is used. “The best crops last year were drilled around April 20, benefitting from soil moisture and establishment before the seedbed became waterlogged and anaerobic conditions set in,” he says. While Mr Walley accepts getting the soil, crop nutrition and drilling conditions right will take time and can work against a crop which requires a long growing season, new varieties can cope. Last year, even some of the earliest of types strugg-

Soil conditions will be poor, particularly in fields in maize last year.

led to compile starch in a summer where heat units were at a premium. “The key differentiator between those which did and those which didn’t was their early vigour. Those with the highest vigour scores and an ability to get out of the ground and ‘going’ made the difference. “We’ve seen Kentaurus set the pace in this ultraearly market, and while it continues to deliver on good sites, it is now off the pace and lacks the early vigour of newer types.

“Our preferred choice for the later drilled and early harvest slot is Ramirez. It combines exceptional early vigour with a higher yield than Kentaurus, and has done well in our trials and on-farm across two contrasting years,” he says. “For those looking at a longer season variety, then Kontender will suit more favourable sites. Both Ramirez and Kontender can provide fresh weight yields of at least 42t/ha (17t/acre) if the basics are right,” he claims.

Your herd needs dependable forage maize feed. So choose Poncho seed treatment. Poncho protects the crop by controlling major seedling pests. It encourages early, healthy growth and enables every plant to capture maximum sunlight. Co-apply with Mesurol and you’ll get even better establishment and biomass: Mesurol increased Poncho’s 70% biomass boost by a further 50%*. It also H]VPKZJVZ[S`YLZV^PUNI`WYL]LU[PUNIPYKKHTHNLHUKJVU[YVSZMYP[Å` .L[TVYLKY`TH[[LYPU[OLJSHTWHUKTPSRPU[OL[HUR Talk to your distributor, call 0845 609 2266 or 01223 226644, or see *1 trial vs. untreated, 2009. Poncho® and Mesurol® are registered trademarks of Bayer. Poncho contains clothianidin. Mesurol contains methiocarb. Use plant protection products safely. Always read the label and product information before use. Pay attention to the risk indications and follow the safety precautions on the label. For further information, please visit or call Bayer Assist on 0845 609 2266 or 01223 226644. © Bayer CropScience Limited 2013.


**DF Feb p38 39 Grandfield _Layout 1 24/01/2013 14:09 Page 1


Think twice before you g

Many people were disappointed with 2012’s maize, but one North West consultant says growers should think carefully before they abandon the crop. Jeremy Hunt reports. ast year’s maize season presented some deep disappointment to dairy farmers who rely on the crop’s value as a winter milk yield booster. But a knee jerk reaction not to grow maize in the future fails to recognise precisely what the crop has to offer. That is not only in terms of the price of the dry matter it provides but also what alternative forms of bought-in dry matter would actually cost. Shropshire-based maize consultant Ian Grandfield says: “You only have to study the averages of what maize has delivered in terms of yields of dry matter to realise alternatives don’t come close. “Those who suffered with the weather, and grew what they considered to be a poor crop, need to sit down and look at the figures. For example, a 12-tonne yield


would be a disappointment in a normal year. There were yields worse than this and also better than this last season. If you take this 12tonne yield at 33% dry matter it equates to four tonnes of dry matter. “To replace this four tonnes of dry matter with a bought-in replacement feed, the first question would be what would you buy, how would you feed it and what would it cost? Fodder beet Fodder beet at £40 a tonne at 16-18% dry matter would mean a cost of £225 per tonne of dry matter. “Stock-feed potatoes at £40 a tonne and at 20% dry matter are producing a feed with a dry matter cost of £200 a tonne,” he says. “Dairy farmers who are disappointed at the four tonnes of dry matter from their maize have actually produced £1000 worth of

This stunted and patchy crop shows the effect of soil compaction.




dry matter an acre. “This means a dairy farmer has to spend £1000 for every acre of maize he doesn’t grow. Let’s take this down to rock bottom – at just two tonnes an acre, maize will produce £500 worth of dry matter. So any decision not to grow maize in future based on last season must not be taken lightly at a time when feed costs are at an all-time high. “It would be far better to look at the changes which can be made to the way the crop is grown. This may enable it to cope more effectively with the vagaries of the seasons. If this crop can produce an 18-tonne yield, it’s producing six tonnes of dry matter worth £1500 an acre. That takes some beating.” The difficulties of the 2012 season were not caused solely by excessive rainfall. The unseasonally dry conditions, which prevailed in March, saw too many maize crops drilled too deeply. “Maize must not be drilled too deeply. Only in May can the seedbed be warm and dry enough to cope when deep drilling enables the seed to locate the moisture it needs.”

Mr Grandfield says maize used to be a crop which was ‘treated with kid gloves’ and given all the help it needed. “In a lot of cases where crops failed, things might not have been as bad if an element of complacency had not been allowed to creep in to the way some growers now approach maize growing.” Seedbeds Seedbed preparation is an area warranting closer attention. The wide use of power harrows isn’t helping. “Power harrows put a seed bed down, they don’t bring it up,” says Mr Grandfield. “A maize seedbed needs to be brought up and it needs to be fluffy and light. This will allow for better drainage because there isn’t the tightness and there will be much better root development. In fact the best piece of equipment for creating the ideal maize seedbed is a crumbler, which can be hard to find these days. “There are still a few second-hand crumblers around and they are ideal for those growing maize on light to medium soils.”

**DF Feb p38 39 Grandfield _Layout 1 25/01/2013 09:48 Page 2


give up maize

Ian Grandfield in the new Pirro variety grown at his Chester trial plots last year.

Mr Grandfield used a crumbler to create the seedbeds on the maize trials he organises each year, but adds disc aerators also work well on heavier soils. “Everyone comments on the

seedbeds, even in October when we open the trials for farmers to inspect. The land is light loam, not light, but we grew some tremendous crops despite the weather conditions,” he adds.

Trials confirm value of nitrogen Ian Grandfield’s trial covering 38 varieties clearly show the benefit of applying additional nitrogen to a maize crop. Where ammonium sulphate was applied at 100kg/acre, crops showed a yield of 22 tonnes against 16 tonnes for untreated. All plots were sown on May 3. He says: “This showed a sixtonne per acre benefit from a cost of £40 an acre for the ammonium sulphate. It proves that forcing the crop to rely solely on nitrogen available from slurry applied during winter has a detrimental effect on the crop’s yield potential, yet many growers don’t apply additional nitrogen.” The trial also looked at the effect of spraying applications

of the urea-based product Efficient 28 directly on to the leaves of the growing crop in July. “We achieved a staggering yield benefit from crops treated with this product which applied 7kg of N an acre to the crop.” He says: “We found treated crops were producing five tonnes an acre of fresh yield more than the untreated part of the same crop. This is a tonne weight of cob. “The July foliar application reduces the risk of nitrogen leaching and has had similar good results in the four other trials conducted so far in the UK. If this result is typical of what this product can achieve, it’s going to be unbelievably cost effective.”




**DF Feb p40 41 Maize Agiraxx _Layout 1 24/01/2013 14:10 Page 1


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Early vigour gets despite last year

Last year’s maize growing season in Somerset was the worst for more than 30 years, according to Terry Bratcher of Bowerings Animal Feeds – so what lessons can we learn from it? he season started well with most farmers sowing into good seedbeds, but the heavy rains in April caused soil capping. Seed germinated well, but could not penetrate the soil surface which turned like concrete on many farms. Any maize which did get through was crooked and very poor looking. Wet seedbeds in April and May then prevented contractors travelling on fields to apply herbicides, adding higher than usual weed burdens to compete with the lack-lustre crops. “With these conditions, complete crop failure has been all too common in the region this year, and where crops did survive they were severely stunted, with many standing crops barely reaching waist height. Adding to the issues, the ground was so wet over October and November that contractors still could not get on to harvest,” says Mr Bratcher.

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The sunshine shortage was very apparent on all crops later on in the growing season. “Nosing of the cobs was very typical because the weather was so wet during pollination that it left the end of the cobs white showing that fertilisation had been incomplete,” he said. “But a number of the growers who have fared better have been growing a variety called Agiraxx and I think it's because it has very good early vigour which enabled seedlings to push through the capped soils,” he explains. Analyses “I also think its large cobs have led to significantly better silage analyses particularly as regards starch content,” he adds. He says many farmers have maize silage with starch content in the low 20s, compared to the low 30s in a normal year. “Agiraxx samples are coming back in the high 20s which is good given the lack of sunshine we had.”

Steve Church farms a former council holding near Highbridge, which he bought 15 years ago. He and wife Sandy and son Joe (pictured) milk 150 cows, have 100 head of followers and rear dairy-cross beef stores for fattening. The dairy herd yield average is 7500 litres/cow/year at 4.20% butterfat and 3.25% protein, and milk goes to Dairy Crest. It was the first time Mr Church had grown Agiraxx, which co-incidentally topped the Kingshay trials last year. “The silage results showed the variety performed well despite the weather – my take on last season is, if you got maize to perform last year you can get it to do so in any year.” (See table). He started feeding the maize in early November and the response in milk yield was immediate. “The cows started averaging 250 litres more just from that one change in ration.” His ration is simple – 30% maize silage, 70% grass silage and a 22% protein

**DF Feb p40 41 Maize Agiraxx _Layout 1 24/01/2013 14:11 Page 2


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Joe Church (above) works alongside his dad, Steve, at Highbridge farm where they milk 150 cows.

cake at a rate of 4kg/head per day. Mr Church grew two fields of maize totalling 13 hectares (32 acres). He harvested 8.4ha (21 acres) in early November and the remaining 4.6ha (11 acres) in late November before the cobs were shed. The later harvested field was drilled on the April 28, much later

Steve Church’s silage analysis for 2012 harvest Grass silage Agiraxx maize (first cut) silage Crude protein (%DM) 14.5 8.5 Dry matter 26 32.4 D-value (%DM) 59 72.8 ME (MJ/kg DM) 9.6 11.6 Total starch (% DM) 28.8 than the earlier harvested block. Around the third week in May, the crop stopped growing and had

Forage for Profit award winners rSince 2009, Mole Valley Farmers has seen grass silage averages rise from 0.3MJ ME below the national level to 0.2MJ ME above the national level in 2012 for the 3000 odd samples they do, and they believe this has been helped by the emphasis put on

producing better forage through their annual Forage For Profit awards. The six winners for 2012 are: Most Improved Award – Craig and Lucy Stone, Ashburton, Devon; Grazing Award – Chris Knowles, St Ives, Cornwall; Big Bale

to be sprayed with a foliar feed Maizetrack at the end of May to encourage it to continue photosynthesising. Award – Lloyd Mortimore, Newton Abbot, Devon; Beef and Sheep Award – Jim Cleave, Camelford, Cornwall; Maize Award – Richard and Ian Plummer, Chippenham, Wilts; Dairy Award – Trevor and Carol Johnson, Axminster, Devon.

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**DF Feb p42 Maize NWF _Layout 1 24/01/2013 14:11 Page 1

MAIZE Poor quality forages and a desire to keep high cost concentrate use in check may mean the energy density of herd rations is lower than it ought to be to maintain good fertility levels. NWF Agriculture specialist Rachel Lander explains the value of maize.

Keep energy intake up or fertility levels drop igh producing dairy cows are challenged post-calving with a large demand for energy which can’t be met from feed intake alone, especially if intakes are suppressed and energy density is reduced. As a result this energy deficit is made up by mobilising body condition, but cows in poor condition can ill afford a prolonged period of negative energy balance (NEB). NWF’s Rachel Lander says: “It is vital to reduce the extent and duration of NEB if you want to get cows back in-calf quickly. “NEB affects the hormonal regulation of reproduction. It affects follicle growth and corpus luteum development. If the corpus luteum produces too little progesterone then cows will not return to heat, and eggs developed while a cow is suffering from NEB are less viable. “So it is essential to ensure cows are consuming as much energy as possible, and it is equally important




Look to feed a high quality starch source with a good proportion of bypass starch Rachel Lander

to make sure it is the correct form of energy,” she adds. Most starch is broken down in the rumen to propionic acid, while a proportion will pass through the rumen intact and be broken down in the gut to glucose. These are described as glucogenic nutrients. Miss Lander says research shows feeding cows a diet high in glucogenic energy sources can reduce the


extent and duration of NEB and ensure cows rebreed more effectively. “Glucogenic energy sources are essential for the production of glucose which, when converted into lactose, is a major driver of milk yield. However they also have a vital role in getting cows through the period of NEB and cycling again because they influence insulin production. “Insulin is the key hormone in early follicle development and the resumption of the oestrus cycle. It encourages production of the hormones which stimulate egg production and improves uterine tone, increasing the likelihood of successful embryo implantation. Back fat “Insulin also reduces the rate of back fat mobilisation and so decreases the rate of condition loss. Diets with a high fat content can reduce insulin production and actually increase condition loss in early lactation. Cows fed diets designed to increase insulin production

showed reduced NEB. They also had a reduced interval from calving to first oestrus,” she says. Miss Lander advises feeding a diet high in glucogenic energy sources to fresh-calved and early lactation cows, although she says it is important to make sure a proportion of the starch bypasses the rumen. “If you just increase starch levels you will increase the risk of acidosis and reduce rumen function. Look to feed a high quality starch source with a good proportion of bypass starch. “Whole maize is an excellent source of bypass starch, and this season NWF has introduced whole maize in blends and a selection of compounds specifically to boost glucogenic energy supply. “Alternatively look to feed a rumen protected source of cereals to lower the acidosis risk. The aim must be to increase the proportion of glucogenic energy sources but to also maintain a good balance of energy sources in the diet,”she said.

DF_02_P43_DF_02_P43 25/01/2013 10:29 Page 21



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MILK prices

Cheese makers bid up for their supply

JThe flurry of milk price increases for milk into cheese announced at the end of last year has continued over into this year. Looking back before Christmas, both Belton Cheese and Joseph Heler announced January 2013 price increases of 1ppl, taking our standard litre (4% b/f & 3.3% prot, Bactoscans of 30,000/ml and SCCs of 200,000/ml, 1mltrs/yr on EODC but before seasonality, balancing or capital retentions) price up to 29.05ppl and 28.99ppl respectively. Glanbia Cheese, based in Anglesey, followed by increasing by 0.75ppl taking our figure for its base price contract up to 29.10ppl, and by 0.74ppl on the constituent option taking it to 29.02ppl. Both prices include the company’s 0.5ppl production bonus (for supplying monthly volumes equal or greater to those of the same month the previous year). Into early January,

Lactalis McLelland (via The Fresh Milk Company) confirmed it was adding another 0.1ppl to its Caledonian January milk price taking our figure to 29.74ppl and 30.24ppl on the company’s profile price option, with the price based on our 12-month profile payment to November 2012 of 0.5ppl. Somerset Somerset cheesemakers showed their hand once again, with AJ and RG Barber first to confirm a further 1ppl from January 2013, taking our price up to 30.1ppl. However, not to be out done, Wyke Farms decided to establish itself at the pinnacle of UK cheese milk prices with an additional 1ppl from February 2013, making the price to beat of 30.25ppl (the same as the quoted Dewley price in our December issue), and this puts the price virtually on a par with the standard liquid price paid by Arla Foods and Muller-Wiseman.

**DF Feb p44 45 46 Milk Prices_Layout 1 25/01/2013 10:22 Page 2

Milk price analyst Stephen Bradley on the latest milk industry developments.

News in brief... AML membersâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; currency cut

JArla Milk Link (AML) members have suffered a cut in price. After its 1.33ppl increase from December 2012, AML members have received a drop of 0.23ppl from January 7, resulting from the first quarter of the currency smoothing model for 2013. This decrease takes our standard litre price down to 28.60ppl on both liquid and manufacturing contracts, while our Rodda price in Cornwall slips to 29.0ppl. These prices include the 0.5ppl production bonus on offer for a producer at least equalling their January 2011 production, as well as the 0.3ppl premier bonus. With Arla Foods amba having taken the decision in January to cut its on account milk price by 4 Danish Ore, equivalent to 0.36ppl (on the basis that typically earnings in the first half of the year are lower than the second) AML says it has been able to offset this part of the price reduction for January by making a supplementary payment of 0.36ppl.

First Milk sees prices rise

JJust before Christmas, First Milk was able to bring good news to its producers supplying through the companyâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s cheese and balancing milk pools with 0.5ppl and 0.25ppl being added respectively. This takes our price for First Milk Cheese and Balancing from January 2013 to 28.5ppl. Highlands & Islands also moved up 0.5ppl to 28.96ppl (all prices include the 0.5ppl monthly additional production bonus). Meadow Foods announced a 1ppl increase from January and, by adding the increase to its flat rate element, ensured all producers receive the full benefit. This takes our price up to 30ppl in both the Chester and Cumbrian milk pools. Other cheesemakers followed with Jan increases, included South Caernarfon up 0.75ppl to 29.28ppl, and Saputo Cheese up 1ppl to 28.95ppl and 28.65ppl on level and seasonal contracts respectively. Parkham Farms moved up 1.25ppl to take our price for them to 30.23ppl.


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**DF Feb p44 45 46 Milk Prices_Layout 1 25/01/2013 10:22 Page 3

MILK PRICES Latest milk prices from D.C – M&S ∞ RWD – Sainsbury's Central Scotland RWD – Sainsbury's England D.C – Sainsbury's D.C – Waitrose ∞^ Arla Foods – AFMP Sainsbury's •• RWD – Tesco Scotland RWD – Tesco England Cadbury – Selkley Vale Milk Arla Foods – Tesco •• Robert Wiseman – The Co-op Dairy Group Wyke Farms Caledonian Cheese Co – Profile ‡ Arla Foods – Standard (former Asda) •• D.C – Davidstow ∞ Parkham Farms Barber A.J & R.G Yew Tree Dairy Caledonian Cheese Co Meadow Foods Lakes ± Meadow Foods – Level Meadow Foods – Seasonal Wensleydale Dairy Products Arla Foods – Standard (Former Non-Aligned) •• Paynes Farms Dairies Robert Wiseman – Aberdeen*** Robert Wiseman – Central Scotland*** Robert Wiseman – England*** Grahams Dairies**** D.C – Liquid Regional Premium ∞ ¶ Joseph Heler Saputo UK – Level supply # Milk Link – London Liquid Milk Link – West Country Liquid Milk Link Rodda's ¢• South Caernarfon Arla Foods – AFMP Standard •• Belton Cheese Glanbia – Llangefni (flat) Saputo UK – Seasonal # Glanbia – Llangefni (Constituent) Milk Link – Manufacturing ¢• First Milk – Highlands & Islands § First Milk – Liquid § First Milk – Cheese § First Milk Balancing § United Dairy Farmers ≠ Average Price

Oct'12 4.0/3.3 Before Seas'lty (i)

32.17 30.66 30.66 30.53 30.99 30.54 31.58 31.58 30.16 31.33 30.00 28.50 28.68 29.38 28.11 29.00 29.11 28.75 28.18 28.25 28.25 28.25 28.49 29.38 29.20 27.84 27.84 27.84 27.98 28.12 27.99 27.96 27.00 27.00 27.41 27.52 29.38 28.05 28.35 27.66 28.28 27.01 26.71 27.05 26.25 26.60 28.89 28.73

Nov'12 4.0/3.3 Before Seas'lty (ii)

32.15 30.66 30.66 30.51 31.97 30.54 31.58 31.58 30.16 31.33 30.00 29.25 29.42 29.38 28.85 29.00 29.11 29.50 28.92 29.00 29.00 29.00 29.48 29.38 29.20 29.00 29.00 29.00 29.00 28.85 27.99 27.96 27.50 27.50 27.91 28.28 29.38 28.05 28.35 27.66 28.28 27.51 27.71 28.65 27.25 27.35 31.89 29.23

Nov'12 4.0/3.3 1mltr SAPP **(iii)

33.60 32.16 32.16 32.45 33.29 30.53 33.08 33.08 30.16 31.31 31.50 29.25 29.67 29.37 30.79 30.98 29.11 29.50 28.92 29.00 29.00 30.00 29.48 29.37 29.20 30.50 30.50 30.50 30.00 30.79 29.99 27.96 26.98 26.98 27.29 30.26 29.37 28.05 27.85 29.16 27.78 26.89 26.93 27.90 26.50 26.60 31.86 29.74

12mth Ave Dec'11 Nov'12 (iv)

31.56 30.55 30.55 30.50 30.41 30.16 30.15 30.15 29.60 29.59 29.42 28.81 28.79 28.78 28.62 28.61 28.40 28.38 28.28 28.16 28.12 28.12 28.03 28.03 27.91 27.79 27.79 27.79 27.76 27.65 27.65 27.59 27.57 27.57 27.52 27.43 27.38 27.34 27.33 27.29 27.23 27.17 26.90 26.81 26.49 26.48 26.20 28.31

Notes to table Prices paid for 1mltr producer supplying milk of average constituents 4% butterfat and 3.3% protein, SCCs of 200,000/ml and Bactoscans of 30,000/ml on EODC excluding capital retentions and MDC levies. SAPP = Seasonally Adjusted Profile Price. (i) Oct’12 prices before seasonality. (ii) Nov'12 prices before seasonality. (iii) Seasonally adjusted profile price for Nov’12 taking into account monthly seasonality payments and profiles of supply. ** Seasonal adjusted profile supply for 1mltr supplier (using monthly RPA figures) for Nov'12=2,530ltrs/day, flat supply=2,740ltrs/day. (iv) Table ranked on the seasonally adjusted price for the 12mths to Nov’12. § SAPP reflects 12mth profile adjustment of -0.28ppl. ¢ SAPP reflects 2,723ltrs (Aug to Dec’11 daily average) paid as ‘A’ ltrs with the remaining ‘B’ ltrs paid @ 130% of the ‘A’ price (ie constituents plus Market Related Adjustment) for Nov'12. • No 'B' litres/day applicable for Nov'12 with daily volume of 2,530ltrs/day being below the 'A' volume of 2,723ltrs. 0.5ppl production bonus for Milk Link, First Milk and Glanbia Cheese not applicable for Nov'12 SAPP with daily production not within our 3% tolerance of Nov'11 based on RPA monthly figures. •• No balancing charge from Jul'12 through to Dec'12. ∞ Price before seasonality includes 12mth rolling profile payment of 1.06ppl to Nov'12 (0.02ppl down on previous month). ∞^ Price before seasonality includes 12mth rolling profile payment of 0.45ppl to Nov'12 (0.02ppl down on previous month). ± Price before seasonality includes 12mth rolling profile payment of 0.5ppl to Nov'12 (unchanged on previous month). # Constituent payments priced by volume. ≠ Seasonality built into monthly base price. Arla Foods— AFMP Asda and Non-aligned prices merged into Arla Foods AFMP Standard from Oct'12. *** RWD increase of 1.17ppl reflects the effects of increasing the price from the 15th October. **** Grahams increase of 1.02ppl reflects the effects of increasing the price to 29ppl from the 15th October. ¶ Price includes Regional & Support Premiums. ‡ Nonseasonal price includes 12mth average rolling profile of 0.5ppl to Nov'12 (unchanged on previous month). Tesco milk prices include the 0.5ppl bonus for co-operation with Promar costings. cannot take any responsibility for losses arising. Copyright:




DF_02_P47_DF_02_P47 25/01/2013 13:10 Page 21

Nationwide store and breeding NOW stock averages

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**DF Feb p48 49 New Products_Layout 1 24/01/2013 14:12 Page 1


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This month, a new slurry separator promises ‘green bedding’ and a Friesian bull features strongly in the winter sale.

Slurry separator launched

JBauer has launched a high performance separator to provide a source of bedding material for cow cubicles, and claim cost savings over alternatives. The separator is designed to achieve high dry matter levels in fibrous material separated from slurry for ‘green bedding’. On farms in the US and Europe the system has proven to encourage cows to lie down for longer, and has reduced leg damage, mastitis and cell counts. There are cost savings over buying and storing traditional materials, and it also reduces the amount of slurry to be stored and

spread on the land. The de-watering machine, developed by the Bauer company FAN Separator, is claimed to achieve higher dry matters than the screw separators commonly used for this sort of application. It complements FAN Separator’s £200,000 Bedding Recovery Unit

aimed at very large herds producing, with its integral drying system, a minimum 40%DM fibrous material which stores well. Material from the £40,000 Green Bedding separator is typically up to 36% DM and needs to be used daily. ■ Details: 07708 919 597.

Fodder beet variety offers extra DM yields JIn Limagrain UK trials, fodder beet variety Robbos produced an extra 2.9t/ha dry matter yield compared to the control variety Kyros – worth £397/ha, assuming a relative value



of fodder beet of £137/t of DM. The variety is best suited to harvesting using leaflifting machinery and is an ideal choice for both dairy and beef production.


With its low dirt contamination, it is well suited to co-ensiling with maize to produce betamaize silage. This is a new concept used by farmers in Denmark, which results in

an energy-rich feed which can be fed year round. ■ Copy of The Essential Guide to Forage Crops is available from enquiries@, or

**DF Feb p48 49 New Products_Layout 1 24/01/2013 14:12 Page 2


JThe Friesian bull Kirkby Jayson, claimed to be good on type and particularly feet and legs, is one of 14 bulls in the sale. The Rocket 3 x Sharcombe Beta son featured strongly in the December DairyCo Breeding+ Friesian Bull Proofs, with scores based on the results of 135 proof daughters from 76 herds.


Kirkby Jayson was second on the all-important legs and feet list with a score of +2.26. This, when coupled with a very good

Video offers sward advice

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JTo help farmers improve swards for this year’s season, Barenbrug has produced a video offering guidance on how to identify an unproductive sward. In the video David Long, Barenbrug’s agricultural research and development manager, shows how to find and rectify problems. ■ View the video at www. m3EecLU ■ Details on 01359 272 000 or

New products are featured in each issue of Dairy Farmer. Please send details and pictures to Jennifer MacKenzie at, or call 01768 896 150.

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**DF Feb p50 Workshop tips_Layout 1 24/01/2013 14:13 Page 1


WORKSHOP tips with Mike Donovan

This month, Mike Donovan gives us some mole catching pointers to lift success rates.

Ideas to control moles successfully

a successful record of oil contamination of a silage controlling moles, and he crop can result in says the trap needs to snap shut as fast as a rat trap. So a lot of waste, the joint needs lubricating – and modern he uses WD40 and sprays mowers (with conditioners), upwards, away from tedders and large the jaws. The rakes seem almost leaf springs on designed to mix either side as much soil as ou sure y trap e k a need to slide they can with rMe your mole ast t f a t u ic r h b s with minimal the crop. lu aps o it sn nough. s friction, which A lot of that e soil comes from means cleaning and lubrication. moles. But successful John says modern scissor mole trapping requires an understanding of the life of traps have jaws which are too straight, and he bends these silent and solitary them out at the top and in creatures, who only get together to mate and then the bottom so there is more of a circular shape when immediately part, leaving they are open. And when it the female to look after the young on her own. comes to the striking plate, the shoulder of this needs to The sightless mole has generated a huge amount of be filed so it, too, can release the trap quickly. myth and some of the old wives’ tales are not so helpSo where do you set your trap? Many people look for ful to trapping success. One such is the myth runs which connect fresh hills, but the mole will have that, due to the smell, the popular scissor trap can't older runs which are used by more than a single be oiled or greased. John Finnemore is a farmer with animal and these lead to the






For successful mole catching you need to set the trap finely enough and in a main run, usually found in the hedge bottom.

water source which is vital to them. So older runs going down to the hedge and through into some overgrown land with a bit of fresh water can be regular highways. Make the minimum of disturbance when locating the trap. Dig your hole by using a garden trowel parallel to the run, and ease out the sod. John takes the T handle from a broken shovel with him to firm the base of the run under the trap, allowing the jaws to work lower. If the run is hard, he’ll hit this T piece with a mallet, and he thinks this technique increases catching rates by 75%.

Covering the trap needs handfuls of long grass together with trimmed turf removed to make the hole. The hole needs covering to prevent an obvious change in sound and draught from the wind outside, both of which the mole can sense. For the Farm Ideas mole control report, which covers the topic in greater detail, email

About Mike

r Mike is a machinery columnist offering tips on building or modifying farm equipment. Sign up for his free newsletter at

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**DF Feb p54 55 Good Evans _Layout 1 24/01/2013 14:13 Page 1


GOOD Evans

I fear we will have to cull a couple of our tractors

This month, Roger Evans wonders why the cows won’t eat his oat silage, and is secretly fearful of a root and branch purge of his tractors.



t may be a new year but we still have to live with the legacy of last year as regards our silage quality. Considering how wet it was we were better off than some. The first cut was excellent, but the second cut not as good. The trouble is we don’t use our mixer wagon any more and as the two cuts are in a sandwich, the cows have a bit of both every day. They eat the first cut first with relish and the second cut is just about all gone by next morning, but we all know what happens when we make cows eat something they’re not keen on. However, on the positive side, feeding takes just a fraction of the time it did with a wagon. The bale silage we made is more of a problem. It was snatched between the rain and the wilt was negligible so we’ve got soft, heavy, wet bales which take a lot of handling. We took on two entire fields and some buildings last spring. We had to reseed the fields after turnips for sheep, and a neighbour gave me some oat seed to drill in as well. Where there’s only grass in the bales they are wet and squelchy, whereas the bales which have oats in are firm and round and look excellent, which is good. But the heifers won’t eat it, which is bad. I cannot work out why. It looks good, it



smells good, and when I put oat straw in their cubicles, they eat most of that so what’s the problem with oat silage? I put a bale out yesterday and put salt all over it so we’ll see if that makes a difference. The new year brings plenty of fine talk from milk buyers about achieving sustainable milk prices. One thing I shall never forget about 2012 is it was these same processors who wanted to impose two price cuts last summer. I have nothing but praise for the efforts of the FFA this past summer, and we, all of us, are better off because of their activities. But what has changed? If we have a milky, grassy spring I see very little which will stop price pressure again. I can’t see Producer Organisations (POs) making the least bit of difference. I have been selling our milk to a PO ever since deregulation and that PO is now the only one left of any size. It is different to all other organisations buying milk because it wants to keep the price as high as possible. All the other buyers have an opposite interest, that of making money for the people who own the business. If they tell you any different, just remind them of last summer. Our consultant wants us to sell our mixer wagon as he sees it as an important act of faith in our journey to a lower cost system.

**DF Feb p54 55 Good Evans _Layout 1 24/01/2013 14:13 Page 2


This is an E reg like the Same but the E is at the other end of the number plate

But while we are still coming to terms with that he switches his attention to our tractors. I have always done quite well buying three or four-year-old cars and keeping them until just before the big bills start turning up. So I have used that same theory with our tractors but with conspicuously less success. Our main tractor is an 06 and our main handler is 08. They were both expensive compared with cars, but I also seem to get all the big bills which invariably turn up just after something has come out of guarantee. Then there’s our number two tractor which I think is about 1998. I’m not sure about its age because it’s got a French number plate, and I’ve never bothered to tax or register it. This tractor is usually mine, probably because its lefthand drive. Then there’s a K reg John Deere and an E reg Same. The John Deere is a favourite of mine because it can usually be fixed with a hammer or a spanner and is slowly becoming collectable. The Same has spent its life joined at the hip to the mixer wagon and has not done much work lately. We could manage without the John Deere or

the Same. So you think that’s it, but it isn’t, is it? Then there’s the scraper tractor. This is an E reg like the Same, but the E is at the other end of the number plate. This tractor is just as important as the main tractor or the handler but it’s a sort of Cinderella tractor. It shows lots of scars from its too close encounters with buildings. The cover to the battery is on top of the bonnet and we’ve taken that off because it’s a handy place to carry a watering can. A watering can is very handy as the tractor mostly boils before you finish scraping. But because scraping twice-a-day is so important we have a reserve scraper tractor in the shed. It’s an old Leyland and we haven’t used it for 12 months. It’s stood next to the workshop. Stacked against it all the way round are our electric fence posts. On the bonnet are oil jugs, tea mugs and five bags of hydrated lime. On the cab roof is a Larsen trap. It’s a great comfort to know you have a spare scraper tractor, but you have to say if you had to try to fire it up if you wanted to do some scraping, well it doesn’t look too hopeful!




**DF Feb p56 Finance_Layout 1 24/01/2013 14:14 Page 1


The introduction of Real Time Information (RTI) is set to fundamentally change the way in which payroll information is reported by employers. Sam Kirkham, of accountants Albert Goodman, gives us the details.

Under starters orders for RTI All employees 16 and over will need to be included on the payroll, irrespective of the amount earned

TI is a compulsory programme designed to give HMRC information ‘in real time’ about the earnings of individual employees. All employers will join the programme between April 2013 and October 2013 at a date specified by HMRC. This will support the introduction of Universal Credits from October 2013 onwards. There are no changes to the calculation of tax and National


Expert opinion rIf a business has nine or fewer employees, the free HMRC software can be used. If there are 10 or more employees, the employer will need alternative RTI compliant software or a payroll service.




Insurance (NI) – it is a change in the method and frequency of reporting pay and deductions to HMRC. All employers will need to tell HMRC details of pay and deductions every time employees are paid, on or before the date employees are actually paid. HMRC have recently relaxed these provisions in certain circumstances to allow for reporting within seven days of payment. This relaxation will apply to agricultural workers such as crop pickers.

Payroll Another change which will impact on many agricultural businesses is that all employees 16 and over will need to be included on the payroll, irrespective of the amount earned. This includes seasonal and casual workers and those who work on an irregular basis. As the first return will require year to date information from April 6 2013, every employer will need to be ready and collecting all information required for RTI from that date, irrespective of their

actual joining date. RTI-compliant software or a payroll service will be essential. If a business has nine or fewer employees, the free HMRC software can be used. If there are 10 or more employees, the employer will need alternative RTI compliant software or a payroll service. At the ‘on-board’ date, each employer will align data with HMRC, and having complete and accurate data in payroll records is important for this process. As well as confirming existing payroll data – such as full names, dates of birth, NI numbers, gender and addresses – normal working hours will also need to be included. Collecting this information for seasonal or casual workers will therefore be required. We, at Albert Goodman, are taking part in the current HMRC pilot. Our knowledge is up to date and we have practical experience of the changes needed to operate RTI efficiently and effectively. *For a free no obligation chat, please contact Sam Kirkham on 01823 286 096.

Fabdec WP DF_Fabdec WP DF 25/01/2013 10:44 Page 1


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“On average I can have up to 7 cases of Lameness a month, 80% of these cases arre e picked up by Heatime at least 24 hours ours beforre e I have visually seen them. This can save me es a day in sever sevverre e cases. between 10 to 15 litrres Heatime enables me to identify and give trreatmentt quicker therrefor eforre rrecover ecoverry is quickerr,, this is a huge benefit and definitely saves me costs thatt I could have occurrred”. ed”.

The average cost of lameness is estimated to be in the region of £180 with averages of around 55 cases per 100 cows per year. This equates to a financial loss of around £14,850 for the average 150 cow herd, equivalent to 1.3p/litre or £40.69 per day.

Above: Rumination & Activity graphs

Defra, Oct. 2008

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Boehringer WP DF_Boehringer WP DF 25/01/2013 10:48 Page 1

Dehorning is acutely painful.1 That’s why a local anaesthetic is given – but a few hours later its effect wears off and pain erupts. Administration of Metacam – newly licensed for dehorning pain – provides time-appropriate pain relief.1 So now, at last, you can make dehorning a more comfortable experience for everybody.


Reference: 1 Heinrich A et al. J Dairy Sci 2010;93:2450-2457. Advice on the use of Metacam or other therapies should be sought from your veterinary surgeon. Metacam contains meloxicam. Prescription only medicine. Further information available from Boehringer Ingelheim Vetmedica, Bracknell, Berkshire, RG12 8YS, UK. Email: Date of preparation: Dec 2012. AHD 7409. Use Medicines Responsibly (


Days, not hours


Dairy Farmer Digital February 2013