Wednesday, 07 April 2021 14:38

Aerospace engineer Paul Trimble of Moira, Co Down in Northern Ireland sets sky high standards when it comes to innovative ways of providing farmers and horse owners with quality haylage and silage bales.

This bale accumulator designed by Paul Trimble of Moira, Co Down for use on a MF 1840 baler is now in production and attracting orders nationwide. No bale sleigh is needed as the computer controlled on board accumulator leaves neat batches of four bales on the ground undamaged. The key to the success of  this accumulator is the IT package in the white box. Paul has also developed an easy to operate on board applicator for the Volac Ecosyl range of additives.   Using an in line MF1840 baler makes road journeys and entry into fields simpler. Seen by Paul as an example of how modern technology can give an idea in use this 80 years, pick up balers, a new role. In the first 4,000 bales made last year a shear pin only went once. Knotters proving equally resilient. Being in line also saves time. Simply drive into the field and start as if using a big round baler.


  “At Bale Baron NI we solve engineering problems, including how to produce consistently high quality haylage and silage in small and large bales,” explained Paul. 


 Having trained at Shorts Bombardier and worked on aircraft such as the Tucano, Paul became an independent engineering problem solver across a range of industries from agriculture to drones used in search and rescue.

 Paul and Lydia Trimble of Bale Baron NI demonstrates how carefully, yet quickly small silage bales can be handled using a front fitting he designed for the loader. The 44hp John Deere 4WD 3720 proving ideal for loading in the field or unloading to stack in farmyards with restricted space.


 For example, his computer controlled bale accumulator for the top of the range Massey Ferguson 1840 in-line pick up baler. This attachment accumulates small bales in batches of four, with no need for a bale sleigh and ready to be collected using a loader mounted flat 8. 


 Each bale having been easily treated with DA Ecobale silage additive from Volac using an on board computer controlled applicator also designed by Paul.


   When making small haylage and silage bales the Bale Baron NI team use an Inagra small bale wrapper. This leaves them in batches of three, but small wrapped bales are hard to lift due to their weight and having no strings. 


  Paul explained that, “We saw this problem and listened to user requests for an engineering solution. This proved to be a three bale lifter that we now use on the loader on our 44hp John Deere 3720. This transports small haylage bales quickly and easily without damaging them. This can be used on the loader of a small tractor or the 3 point linkage.


  “For our clients, including many pedigree sheep and horse enterprises, getting every wrapped bale opened waste free the following winter is vital, not least for animal health reasons. Thus our emphasis on making good bales not damaged during handling.


  “Above all, using the Volac range of Ecosyl silage additives is a simple, cost effective means of maximising haylage and silage feeding value, whether made in ideal or far from ideal weather conditions. 


 “Every sweet smelling haylage and silage bale treated with DA Ecobale proves very palatable to those connoisseurs of haylage and silage - sheep and horses. The sheer lack of waste in professionally made and handled bales treated with a Volac additive always impresses our clients.”


   Paul's daughter and work colleague, Lydia Trimble, having her own small sheep flock gets a special pleasure in seeing the reaction of every animal to Bale Baron NI winter feed. “We offer clients a complete small and big bale service using a unique range of equipment, with enhanced engineering designed in our own workshop,” affirmed Lydia, a day-release student at CAFRE Greenmount on the Level 2 Agriculture course.


 “From mowing through tedding, raking, baling and wrapping to drawing in and stacking,  Bale Baron NI takes a precise and professional approach to helping clients enhance animal performance by producing quality fodder.”  


 To contact the Bale Baron NI team for engineering repairs and solutions or contracting services, visit their Facebook page or tel; 077 4040 2356.


  Highly impressed with Paul Trimble's problem solving engineering expertise Volac NI silage specialist Ken Stroud explained the role of the two Ecosyl additives used making higher DM bales.  “DA Ecobale is ideal for those making really high dry matter haylage with a DM reading between 60% and 70%. The very popular Volac Ecocool additive is recommended when making top quality silage for beef or sheep, winter feed with a DM  ranging from 45% to 55%. 

The sweet smell of success. Sheep cannot resist eating every pick of small bale silage made with Volac additives. Free from moulds and yeast with no waste.


 “These additives keep yeasts and moulds at bay so right through the winter bales are opening to give that 'must eat” smell, even the most selective of sheep or equines cannot resist.


  “Using Ecosyl additives gives great peace of mind as regards avoiding animal health problems due to moulds, and ensures bales in storage or opened stay fresh longer.”


 “On farm trials and the experience of farmers nationwide show that Volac additives boost feed quality, feed intake, livestock performance and potentially your bottom line.”


   For further details contact Ken Stroud tel; 077 1319 7084 or Volac Ecosyl distributors in NI John Thompson & Son Ltd tel; (028) 9035 1321.

Monday, 08 March 2021 14:37

The risk of scour rises as winter turns to spring due to to the sheer number of young stock passing through busy calf rearing and lambing pens.



The battle to keep up hygiene standards getting ever harder over a long, busy winter. Even on very tidy, well run farms outbreaks of scour become more common as ever more wee calves and lambs arrive. So  having AsGold to hand to allow for prompt action is sound common sense. 


 AsGold is an electrolyte with added fibres to promote a healthy gut for both calves and lambs and should be used where digestive upsets are seen or as directed by your veterinary surgeon.


 This well proven product from Volac can be fed alone, with water or added to either milk or milk replacer. Thus there is no need to withdrawn milk from young stock at risk.


Calves with mild and nutritional scours should continue to receive normal amounts of milk or milk replacer as long as they want to drink. Never feed diluted milk to ill calves.


If milk is withdrawn calves quickly lose body condition leading to either death from starvation or stunted growth.  


Volac manager Una Hickey urges farmers to have AsGold in their medicine cupboards for peace of mind and to ensure timely use once scour is  seen.


 AsGold contains glucose and electrolytes to reenergise and rehydrate the calf as well as natural plant fibres and pectins to maintain that vital healthy gut. An ideal first feed for bought in calves ASGold is widely used to aid recovery from digestive upsets in both calves and lambs.


 This unique product, a must have in every calf house and lambing shed, can be obtained from farm suppliers and vets province wide in 500g pouches, 2.5kg and 5kg tubs.

 For further information browse, Freephone 0800 919807 or contact NI business manager Alistair Sampson tel; 07860 626 442.

Friday, 19 February 2021 16:24

Rodney Magowan reports for the UNZT Newsletter


ROBBIE Butler, a member of the Northern Ireland  legislative assembly at Stormont, has praised New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern.


As an MLA for the Lagan Valley constituency Robbie is familiar with the locally based  Ulster New Zealand Trust at Balance House. Home farm of John Balance, a Kiwi PM in the 1890s, who  ensured NZ women were the first in the world to have the vote



 Writing on Facebook the Ulster Unionist MLA noted he did not agree with all of Jacinda Ardern's policies.


  However, the former senior Fire Fighter praised the Prime Minister's key comments about politics.


  That she is really against this idea that politics has to be a place full of ego and where you are constantly focused on scoring hits against one another.


 Adding that we need a robust democracy, but you can be strong and you can be kind.


 Commenting Robbie Butler said that, “In Northern Ireland we are fed a lie that politics must be combative, nasty, negative, aggressive, unkind, slanderous and critical. A constant race to the bottom. Instead  I take a global look and see leaders like Jacinda Ardern in New Zealand. 


  “Her manner of politicking, her ability to challenge, yet be polite, to disagree without ridicule, to critique without criticising is a wonderful reminder of what can be done and what politics could one day be here”. 

Friday, 19 February 2021 16:03

YOUNG Mums are busy and organised, but  New Zealander Gabrielle Burns takes the concept of 'busy and organised' to a new level.


Based in Newcastle, Co Down Gabrielle and husband James have three of a family aged 17, 14  and 12. They also both run international businesses and are currently in the final stages of building their dream home over looking the Mountains of Mourne close to Tollymore Forest Park.


 And somewhere in life Gabrielle finds the time and energy to volunteer to help at some of the major Ulster New Zealand Trust events at Ballance House.


 But how did a native of Invercargill, pop 55,000, the most southerly city in New Zealand come to live in Northern Ireland since 2006?


  A  taste of home when Newcastle, Co Down based Kiwi entrepreneur Gabrielle Burns headed to Dublin for the opening of New Zealand's new embassy to the Irish Republic.


 “Well Northern Ireland was not part of 'the plan' when my girl friend and I came to London to see Europe on the usual Kiwi adventure,” explained Gabrielle.


 “ Having been through boarding school I was a pretty independent individual and ready for adventure. So after graduating in education and marketing from Otago Uni in Dunedin it was OE time. Time to see the world and gain some Overseas Experience.


 “We certainly had a great life in London combining work with travel and all sorts of adventures. During this time I met a young chap from Co Down, who had a very cute accent. Long story short he got very lucky and married me!” quipped Gabrielle. 


 “James and I lived and worked in London and Amsterdam for several years, which was tremendous fun and great experience. Working for huge brand names like Nike and Roche was a massive added bonus.


 “Then around 2006 with two of our three children in tow we made the decision to leave London. It was not the place we wished to bring up a family and whilst we could have headed to New Zealand we chose Newcastle in Northern Ireland.


 “A determining factor was that my father in law was very unwell and, of course ,James wanted home to support him.  We had also recently finished  building a house there, which initially we had intended to sell, but as it turned out then became our family home.   “Thus the decision was made, and it has proved an excellent one for both of us and our now three teenagers.


Gabrielle Burns enjoying the New Zealand embassy's opening reception in Dublin during 2018 with two famous sporting heroes also from her native Southland region of South Island, NZ.
 Justin Marshall, left, All Black captain in 1997, who played halfback 1995 – 2005, and Legend Jeff Wilson, who was both a rugby All Black and cricket Black Cap in the 90s.


  “We live and work in a lovely place where our kids have benefited from growing up in what feels like a very safe town, with the added bonus of excellent schools. We are quite ‘outdoorsie’ and enjoy the Mournes, swimming in the sea in the summer and of course trekking Tollymore Forest Park.


 “ I’ve found people really friendly here and I particularly love the creative and humorous way people think, which probably comes from thousands of years of storytelling. It’s amusing and very endearing. “ affirmed Gabrielle.


 “But gosh I do miss New Zealand and think of family, especially my Dad and brother, plus  some really good friends who are like my sisters, every day.


 “Yet through James we have a strong family network here, though there are cultural differences. And I mean differences, not faults.


 “In New Zealand sport is practically a religion with males and females all taking part be it sailing, tennis, rugby, hockey, football or netball. Everyone seems to have a sport. Women's events getting lots of media coverage.


 “ In Northern Ireland the culture means that sport seems less important, although I think that may be changing. Still ladies sporting events get less coverage and a lot of folks instead seem to put their efforts into organisations, such as the UNZT Ballance House or their place of worship.”


 “Though I must say our eldest, Amelia, has really taken to the sporting scene here and is on the NI under 19 netball squad. A role that has let her mix with players from all across the country and take part in international matches overseas. A brilliant opportunity.”


  Asked about her career Gabrielle revealed that while James heads a telecoms consultancy operating UK wide and indeed further afield she is managing director of Bohill Health.


This is a niche recruitment agency placing specialist staff with clients in London, New York and Germany.  Using her experience and vast network Gabrielle connects medical consultants with leading companies. 


 “In addition, having managed to accumulate such a large and strong network of business colleagues, a few years ago I set up ‘Kiwi Lauchpad’ which is aimed at helping young Kiwis find employment in the UK and Irish Republic.  


 “Though 2020 was not a great year business wise for Bohill Health due to Covid we survived and will thrive again.


 “ Thankfully the telecom sector is still very strong and James has been very busy, spending less time travelling and more time working from home which has been great for us as a family.


 “But for both of us and family the big focus amidst all the pandemic worries has been the construction of our dream home a few minutes walk from our current house. We are over half way through the build, which is in a magical location. The design is very unusual for Northern Ireland, as it is based around five ‘pods’ which will force us into more indoor outdoor living. 


 “When you are from Invercargill, travelling anywhere means either a long drive or a flight.  This has probably skewed my idea of what long distance actually is and the fact that France is so close to NI means we certainly have enjoyed some great continental holidays to places across France, Spain and Italy. 


  “Likewise it also means meeting clients or friends in Dublin, London, Amsterdam or Paris to me feels like just around the corner.”


 As regards volunteering at Ballance House with the Ulster New Zealand Trust this Mum and entrepreneur is time short so tries to help out, when possible, at key events.


 “John Ballance was a great New Zealand reformer and Prime Minister, who helped promote our wonderful national  attitude to equality. That men and women, Maori and Pakeha, alike should have a vote and every opportunity to progress.


 “So Ballance House gives me a link with home and a chance to catch up with other Kiwis and NI families linked to my amazing homeland – The land of the long white cloud.”



Friday, 19 February 2021 15:53

DAVID Sheridan farms across several holdings around Letterbreen and Florence Court in Co Fermanagh with  some further acreage just across the border. In fact one of his fences is the border!


 Lowland sheep and suckler cows are the family's main enterprises, but David has a third passion. Helping save lives as a member of the prestigious North West Mountain Rescue Team. 


 “Back in 2013 our local section of the North West Mountain Rescue Team held an open day at their base beside one of our farms, “ David recalled.


North West Mountain Rescue Team veteran David Sheridan at his day job checking sheep in the hills above Lough MacNean in Co Fermanagh.


 “ Several members were neighbours and friends so I called in and was mightily impressed.  One member that day, the late Maud Cunningham BEM, encouraged me to join. Saying I knew a lot of the  countryside already, was farmer fit, practical and reliable.


 “So with all that praise joining seemed a great idea, And it was!  Eight years later the North West Mountain Rescue Team are again recruiting and I would urge country folk to consider applying.


 “This is a voluntary body covering all of NI, other than the Mournes, from bases in Fermanagh, Magherafelt and Ballymena. The Mournes having their own mountain rescue team.


 “You do not have to be some sort of super fit Bear Grylls or latter day Mary Peters. Just farmer fit or even vet fit would be an advantage!” David quipped.


 But how does he cope if there is a call out when busy in the lambing shed or a cow is calving? Simply by not being on call at very busy times of the year.


 “Though make no mistake being in the team is a serious commitment with training two evenings a month at the local section base beside us and then province wide courses and exercises most months. Often with other organisations such as Coast Guard, police, RNLI, fire brigade and ambulance service.


 “Some folks even get to higher level courses across the water or in the Republic. Indeed we all aim to get Rec3 and Rec4, Rescue and Emergency Care, first aid qualifications.

Remember the team's aim is to find those lost in often bleak landscapes and where necessary stabilise their condition. Then, if need be,  they are packaged on a specialist stretcher, and carried to a place of safety for onward transport to hospital.


 “Calls outs  are mainly local, but in major incidents our section has been deployed to back up other teams  as far afield as Mayo, the Mournes and Cave Hill! Taking part in actual rescues and potentially saving a life gives me a great buzz and the whole experience of working in a team is great crack. “


  At home David farms with the support of his father Robert and son Lee across several holdings miles apart. A contrast to being in the  larger mountain rescue team  extracting casualties amidst horrendous weather conditions.


  Early innovators in many farming techniques David and family were among the first in NI to use expanded metal flooring in sheep sheds and sponging to tighten up lambing.

 Ewes are mainly Cheviot Suffolk crosses put back, almost always, to Suffolk tups. Though some Texel rams are used.


 “We have lambs for sale now most months of the year with ewes lambing in batches  from Christmas through to April. The Suffolk sired lamb tending to finish and get away sooner than those from a Texel tup. Thus making up for that problem of later Suffolks getting dirtier back ends.


 “As regards suckler cows the days of using wee blacks from the west of Ireland are gone. Now we supply what the market wants selling continental bred, single suck weanlings in Enniskillen from 10 months old for others to finish. Most of the cows are Limousin Simmental crosses put in calf to a Charolais.


 “Bidders want well forward suckler calves with colour and prices this year have certainly pleased. Some Co Down customers returning annually. I guess that makes up for all the Brexit red tape hassle when we, as usual, buy our replacement suckler cows in the Republic. Ones without any Holstein in their background as is often the case if one tries to buy suckler cows in NI.”


 With the North West Mountain Rescue Team 40 years old in 2021 David would love to see more farm folk and those from a rural back ground coming forward to volunteer.

 “The training is practical, down to earth and suits a huge range of abilities. You will not be asked to handle anything on call out that you have not been well trained to cope with.

 “Yes, farming is great and producing stock that suits the market is brilliant. But so is helping save a life by bringing a lost, often injured walker back to their family.


 “And remember, the team are also delighted to advise those enjoying out door activities on their preparation as regards lots of layers of clothing, footware and plans. Have they prepared a route, can they map read, have they told others where they are heading and when likely to return? Did they check the local weather forecast?


 “As in farming having a plan and preparing to succeed makes for success and safety on the hill!” David affirmed. 


 ”If in difficulties ring 999 or 112 and ask for police and request they deploy the mountain rescue.  Our role is to rescue you from places no ambulance can reach.”


   For an informal chat about joining the North West Mountain Rescue team email  This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it or  visit  Both active members like David Sheridan  and support staff are required from all across NI. While others stand back you will be equipped to step forward and help those in danger. 


Rodney Magowan reports

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