Dairy Farmers wanted
Thursday, 28 July 2016 16:38
Dairy Farmers wanted to participate in an exciting international project

AgriSearch (The Northern Ireland Agricultural Research and Development Council) is looking to recruit a small number of innovative dairy farmers as “pilot farms” for an exciting new European project.
EuroDairy is a network being initiated to increase the economic, social and environmental sustainability of dairy farming in Europe, at a time of unprecedented challenge for the sector.

Funded by the EU Horizon 2020 programme, EuroDairy will foster the development and dissemination of practice-based innovations in dairy farming, targeting key sustainability issues following the abolition of milk quotas: socio economic resilience, resource efficiency, animal care, and the integration of milk production with biodiversity objectives.  

EuroDairy spans 14 countries, from Ireland to Poland, and from Sweden to Italy, encompassing 40% of dairy farmers, 45% of cows and 60% of European milk output.

EuroDairy will establish a network of 120 innovating dairy farmers (pilot farms) across Europe to demonstrate best practice, and push boundaries in the application of new knowledge.

AgriSearch is seeking to recruit a small number of Northern Ireland dairy farmers to participate in this European network. Pilot farms should be implementing innovations in one or more of the following areas:
Resource efficiency
Animal care
Socio-economic resilience

Pilot farmers should have:
Good physical and financial performance
Good communication skills
Good record keeping
Be willing to host farm visits from both local and international farmers
Be willing to participate in local meetings (including operational groups)
Be willing to go on an exchange to visit other farmers in Europe

Pilot farmers will be financially benchmarked for two years using the European Dairy Farmers financial comparison system.  For this reason, we would particularly welcome applications from farmers who are already participating in the EDF financial comparison programme.

Farmers will also be required to submit additional information (which will depend on the type of innovations they are implementing on their farms).

AgriSearch will be seeking to form farmer-driven ‘Operational Groups’ to target specific problems or opportunities for the dairy sector. The EuroDairy network will link these groups cross-border, so that innovations identified in one country or region, can be shared with another. Pilot farmers should be willing to participate in such operational groups.
Farmers who are interested in applying to become a pilot farmer should download an information pack and application form from the AgriSearch website www.agrisearch.org or request one by contacting Jason Rankin on 028 92681613 or email: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .

Thursday, 28 July 2016 16:32
A new in parlour feeding system has proved a profitable investment for Herman Pieper, a progressive goat milk producer reports Jos Borsten.
Since fitting a new in parlour feeder milking time for 300 goats in a carousel parlour has been reduced and training new members of the herd made easier.
Farming near Eibergen, pop; 12,000, close to the Dutch border with Germany   Herman was primarily a beef and pig producer until 1999 when the decision was made to establish a dairy goat enterprise.
 So over the next two years he built up a milking goat herd and installed a 48 station carousel milking parlour.  However, after 15 years it was clear by last winter that the original in parlour feeding system needed replaced.
Dairy goat farmer Herman Pieper is delighted with a new Hanskamp in parlour feeding system that cuts costs, enhances performance and saves time.
 “It was not a very precise feeding system as the motor worked with a timer and feed often ended up on the floor beside the trough instead of in the trough. There was a lot of costly spillage around the rotary parlour and goats were not being fed to optimise their performance and our profits,” explained Herman.
 “A reliable feeding system that can dose pellets precisely is very important in ensuring individual goats are fed accurately to ensure they remain in good condition and that margins are maximised.”
 With the PipeFeeder HighSpeed system developed by innovative Dutch company Hanskamp already popular with dairy cow herd owners across Western Europe Herman decided to have it installed last February.
This control panel lets Herman preset the amount of pellets offered to each animal by the PipeFeeder HighSpeed system. Hanskamp feeders are designed for use with all major makes and models of milking equipment.
 “Now we have no pellets left scattered around the parlour and each goat gets exactly the correct amount of feed as the PipeFeeder has a very accurate braking system on the motor.”
Having deliberately installed the new feeding system before the start of kidding time Herman Pieper found that goats now learn the parlour routine much easier and faster than in previous years.
 “I also really like the way Hanskamp have designed their very robust PipeFeeder so that from the ControlPanel the amount of pellets dispensed per group or per individual goat can be simply set.
 “For young goats I can easily set the system to dispense 300g to 400g per animal. This ensures they remain eating and standing peacefully right through milking until turned out.
“The certainty that every goat will always receive feed helps get young goats moving quickly into the parlour. Early in the season when young goats coming into the herd are learning the milking routine this has cut milking time by half an hour as 300 animals go through the parlour.”
 When ordering the PipeFeeder Herman Pieper pointed out to Hanskamp that the exit point designed for dairy cows would need adapted to suit goats.
 “As a result we were the very first to install a new exit point for the PipeFeeder system designed by the Hanskamp team specifically for goats. It is no surprise that more diary goat farmers have since also opted for this PipeFeeder HighSpeed package. 
 “For those producing milk from cows or goats and seeking a precise feeding system with no problems I would strongly recommend the PipeFeeder HighSpeed from Hanskamp. Safe and simple to use it has proved an excellent investment as time and money is saved.”
 For further details tel; 0031 3143 93797, e mail This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it or browse www.hanskamp.nl/en  

Wholecrop cereals ‘no brainer’
Thursday, 28 July 2016 16:28
Wholecrop cereals could be ‘no brainer’ for livestock farmers facing tight silage stocks 
Low cereal prices could mean making wholecrop cereal silage is a ‘no brainer’ for topping up this season’s tight grass silage stocks on dairy and other livestock farms, says Ecosyl silage specialist, Derek Nelson.

This, coupled with the drive to maximise use of home-grown forages to reduce reliance on bought-in feeds, makes wholecrop an obvious option, he maintains.

“We’ve seen in the past that wholecrop cereals have proved an ideal silage where grass yields or quality levels have been low,” says Mr Nelson.

“With cereal grain prices still relatively depressed, if you are growing cereals and need to make up for grass silage shortfalls, it makes sense to consider ensiling at least some as wholecrop this season – rather than harvesting the entire crop as mature grain. 
Ensiling cereals as fermented wholecrop makes a lot of sense for farmers needing to make up for grass silage shortfalls this season, says Ecosyl silage expert, Derek Nelson, with high yields and high starch contents achievable, but it is important to protect against aerobic spoilage

“Wholecrop wheat can deliver 12-15 tonnes of dry matter per hectare, which is more than three cuts of grass in a dry year. Also, including wholecrop as part of a mixed forage diet can increase dry matter intake, which is important for high-yielding herds. Even if you aren’t growing cereals, you can often buy standing crops.”

As with all silage, Mr Nelson says getting the maximum feed value from wholecrop demands effective preservation – with many farmers opting to make fermented wholecrop as a low cost and straightforward method. 

“Fermented wholecrop is a highly palatable and nutritious forage and can have starch contents as high as 35% dry matter. Also, harvest can often be slotted in immediately after second cut grass – which means you can assess grass silage stocks before deciding how much wholecrop to make. 

“Ideally, wholecrop for fermenting should be harvested at 45-50% dry matter, which is typically three to four weeks before combining when the grain is at the ‘soft Cheddar cheese’ stage but with no ‘milk’ detectable. 

“Because of its relatively high dry matter, wholecrop can be prone to aerobic spoilage during storage and at feedout, shown as heating. So it is well worth considering a dual-acting additive. A new product Ecocool, for example, which was launched last year for exactly this purpose, contains the bacteria Lactobacillus plantarum strain MTD/1 for efficient fermentation plus Lactobacillus buchneri PJB/1 for reduced heating and spoilage.”

When planning wholecrop harvest, Mr Nelson says, cutting at 45-50% dry matter provides a good balance between providing moisture and sugars for fermentation and achieving a good starch content in the grain to maximise feed value. However, be careful not to miss the optimum harvest window, he says, since cereals mature rapidly, and, once dry matter reaches 45%, it can increase in hot weather by 2% a day.

“You can still achieve a good fermentation at dry matters of up to 50%, particularly with a proven silage inoculant. Also, it is possible to produce well-fermented wholecrop below 45% dry matter, but early harvesting will affect yield and starch levels.

“Chop length is also important. For optimum rumen conditions, diets must contain sufficient effective fibre. Aim for around 20 mm,” Mr Nelson adds.

Thursday, 28 July 2016 16:26
ORDER pink Topwrap bale silage film and for every roll bought Trioplast, your local merchant and Volac will jointly donate £3 to Breast Cancer Now the charity funding projects at 30 research centres.
 Last year this Volac pink wrap campaign generated over £10k for research into breast cancer, a disease impacting on one in every eight women at some stage in their lives.
Jim Davidson, left, of Trioplast helps Volac forage specialist Noel McGrath and NI manager Alistair Sampson display the cheque presented to Breast Cancer Now, which supports research at QUB. Last year £10, 591.65 was raised when farmers ordered pink Topwrap silage bale film.
 These brightly coloured bales across the countryside also serve as a reminder that women should avail of free NHS breast screening health checks. Appointments no woman should miss no matter how busy their precious life has become.
 Currently Breast Cancer Now funding for research includes two projects at Queen’s University Belfast led by Dr Niamh Buckley.
 Topwrap RS1900 pink bale wrap from Volac has 1900m of film on a roll, as opposed to the standard green wrap sold with 1500m. On average Topwrap RS1900 is 7% cheaper than standard wrap and wraps 26.6% more bales.
Farmers and contractors are urged to order their pink wrap promptly from their local merchants.

Thursday, 28 July 2016 16:20
As they prepare for the Royal Highland Show Rodney Magowan reports from the farm of James and Sam Martin.

AT the 1982 Royal Show an Ulster lad hardly into his teens was intrigued by   a small stand promoting the then virtually unknown Belgian Blue breed.
 At the 2016 Royal Ulster he won the prestigious Interbreed championship with stunning British Blue cow Springhill Golden Girl. The first Blue to take the Balmoral interbreed beef award thought certainly not the first time in the spotlight for Springhill stock.
 Reflecting on his family’s Balmoral success James Martin of Newtownards, Co Down recalled returning home from Stoneleigh 34 years ago determined to find out more about the Blues.
Springhill Golden Girl with Springhill Leo at foot making history at Balmoral 2016 with the very first Royal Ulster British Blue Inter Breed Champion. A proud moment for James and Sam Martin seen here with breed steward Conn Williamson, a former British Blue Cattle Society President and, right, judge Arwel Owen from Welshpool. Photograph by Catherine MacGregor.
  “Only in 1987 were we finally able to acquire foundation stock for our Springhill Herd, one of the two oldest British Blue herds in Northern Ireland. Interestingly our herd and that of the Morrison family likewise formed in the 1980s both produce white bulls.
 “Our first Blue was a heifer out of Belgium with further foundation stock coming from the Watford Park Herd in Northants,” added James, who now farms with 21 year old son Sam.
 Aside from their beef breeding enterprise centred on 25 British Blue cows the Martins have a 150 strong dairy herd milk of mainly Holsteins, though the family has long had an interest in Jerseys. 
 “My late Dad milked some Jerseys and more recently we were farmer co-researchers with AFBI, Hillsborough looking at the role of Jerseys in boosting milk value. 
 “So over the years our pedigree Blue breeding has been grounded in the realities of commercial milk and beef production. Indeed the bulls we produce are especially appreciated by dairy farmers seeking white bulls that add colour as well as shape and value to calves from Holstein cows.
 “The sheer docility of the breed is another huge bonus for suckler and dairy herd owners, The British Blue, pure or half bred, is a pleasure to behold and a pleasure to work with in an era of ever fewer helping hands on farms. Our priority is producing bulls that are mobile, willing and able to work siring small, fast growing calves easy on cows at calving time.”
 The 2016 Royal Ulster interbreed championship was won against a tremendous turnout of beef cattle at Balmoral not least in the Blue classes. 
 Explaining that this cow is a five year old homebred daughter of Gitan Du P’ Tit Mayeur out of Springhill Country Girl a delighted Sam Martin said that winning is never taken for granted despite the herd’s decades of success at shows and sales across the UK.
 Springhill Golden Girl was shown with her four month old bull calf at foot, Springhill Leo, a naturally conceived and naturally born son of Springhill Gladiator, one of three bulls from the Martin family currently at AI with Cogent.
 As we go to press Springhill Golden Girl is being prepared for the Royal Highland Show 20 years after the Martins won the 1996 Blue Championship at Edinburgh and came home with the RHS Gold Cup.
 That 1996 Royal Highland winner Springhill Lady is linked directly through four generations to the 2016 Royal Ulster interbreed champion Springhill Golden Girl. An example of how Springhill stock are consistently toppers in the show ring, at main breed sales and above all in putting quality calves on the ground for buyers.
 For Balmoral 2016 interbreed  judge Arwel Owen, a leading Charolais breeder of Welshpool, Powys his Royal Ulster champion Springhill Golden Girl was a “a testament to the British Blue breed, an animal that demonstrates just what the breed has achieved so far.”
  For Sam Martin ag college studies and excellent work placements, including at Borderway Mart, are behind him.  Having come home to join parents James and Sharon in the family business Sam shows tremendous commitment to helping them continue breeding the best of British Blues.
 With continued investment in leading bloodlines internationally and a proven track record of blending traditional husbandry skills with the latest technology the Martin family retain that essential thirst for continued success with Springhill stock.
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