Tuesday, 29 July 2014 11:09
HOW do you make a living from 450 ewes on 70 lowland acres in West Tyrone?
 The key question that drew almost 200 sheep farmers to an AgriSearch farm walk hosted by Isaac Crilly of Lislaird, Castlederg. The answer, Isaac explained, is to maximise your kilos of lamb sold per ewe and above all per acre.
Isaac Crilly takes questions during the AgriSearch farm walk.
 “A U grade lamb returns an extra £2 over a run of the mill R grade, but producing an extra 0.1kg lambs weaned per ewe means another £8 so carcass quality is not our key consideration,” Isaac revealed.
 Closely involved in AFBI on farm research selected for support by producers through AgriSearch Isaac‘s 2013 sales averaged 1.58 lambs per ewe, including ewe lambs. 19kg carcasses averaging £119 a piece to leave a benchmarked gross margin per ha of £548. An impressive £170 per ha more than the NI benchmarked average thanks to high stocking rates.
At the AgriSearch event farmers showed tremendous interest in breeding systems used to produce this impressive profit.  Isaac has Belclare, NZ Suffolk and Meatlinc rams put to composite ewes and is one of five producers involved in an AFBI, Hillsborough rotational breeding investigation.
 Findings from this work on selecting ewe replacements demonstrated the potential of using composite ewes in terms of production efficiency, that is, lamb output per kg ewe.
The benefits of selecting homegrown ewe replacements, as well as terminal sires, on performance records rather than looks alone were clear to see on the bottom line of this impressive farm business.
With limited acreage Isaac and Elizabeth Crilly make no silage so ewes are fed only on grass, straw and concentrate thus showing that silage is not the only option in the winter sheep menu! However, silage quality generated an excellent discussion between visiting farmers, CAFRE advisors and AFBI scientists. 
 To view a booklet produced for the Crilly farm walk browse www.agrisearch.org or ph; (028) 8778 9770.

Isaac Crilly at the AgriSearch farm walk.
Isaac and Elizabeth Crilly run 450 March April lambing ewes on 28.3ha, 70 acres. 
Stocking rate 19 ewes per ha.
2013 output 567kg carcass per ha.
Hosting AFBI on farm research for 15 years
Increasingly sheep research projects have been those selected for support by farmers through AgriSearch. 

Dairy Unit Unique in Europe
Tuesday, 29 July 2014 11:03
PipeFeeders in the Rapid Exit parlour!

BELGIAN milk producer Rudy Rotsaert was the first farmer in Europe to install PipeFeeder concentrate dosing units in a Rapid Exit milking parlour.
BELGIAN milk producer Rudy Rotsaert, who farms at Klemskerke close to the West Flanders coast, is the first in Europe to install PipeFeeder concentrate dosing units in a Rapid Exit milking parlour. 
 Expanding his business onto a second farm gave Rudy the opportunity to invest in a totally new dairy unit with the emphasis on achieving a more efficient way of milking.
 On the advice of Rommelaere NV, a Belgian dairy equipment company, he opted for a 2 x 16 Rapid Exit milking system. This has a cantilevered, vertically moving steel frame that allows cows to leave the parlour quickly. 

PipeFeeder concentrate dosators
 Like most milk producers Rudy Rotsaert sees many advantages in feeding during milking as cows then like to come into the parlour, which means there is no need for an expensive push-on gate.
 Therefore he searched for a reliable and efficient concentrate feeding system to match the Rapid Exit milking parlour. At Hanskamp AgroTech, an innovative Dutch company, Rudy found the concentrate dosator that lives up to his expectations, the PipeFeeder.
  Thus above every milking place a PipeFeeder made from robust stainless steel has been installed in a rigid frame. Once every cow is in place and the rear gate has closed the cow-recognition system ensures each individual receives the correct amount of concentrate based on her level of production. 
  During milking the cow receives several 80 gram portions of concentrate until the maximum amount allocated is reached. This is important as it ensures the farmer has control over the amount of concentrate fed and that none is wasted.   “The positive effect of concentrate feeding in the parlour was seen immediately, “says Rudy Rotsaert. “In the new dairy unit our cows are keen to come into the milking parlour, they are quiet and they let go of their milk more easily. Thus the milking time is reduced. 
 ‘We certainly made an excellent choice by installing the very efficient PipeFeeder in parlour feeding system”. 
 For further information on the PipeFeeder from Hanskamp AgroTech please contact Robin Franken, tel; 00 31 314 393 797 or e-mail This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it  
 Hanskamp AgroTech will exhibit at the Livestock Event, Birmingham July 2-3, and the Irish National Ploughing Championships, Sept 23-25.
 To obtain details of how the Rapid Exit milking parlour was constructed contact Van Dinther BV tel; 00 31 486 473 068 or via This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
Press release – Zelhem, 23 April 2014 
Tuesday, 29 July 2014 10:59
Mayobridge dairy farmers Gary and Mairead O’Hagan clearly enjoyed their luxury weekend in Bruges won in the Bekina Wellington boot company’s 50th anniversary competition carried by FarmWeek.
Welcomed to Bruges, the capital of west Flanders by Iris Temmerman, left, of Bekina the Co Down couple were full of praise for their Belgian hosts.
  “Bekina is a family owned firm producing wellies for working farmers, boots that are a real treat for farm feet and our hosts certainly gave us a real treat, a brilliant weekend break,” Mairead noted.
   One highlight of the weekend was a walking tour of Bruges that included visiting chocolate and sweet shops plus an introduction to some of the 1000 beers produced in Belgium. A medieval city surrounded by canals and whose early prosperity was founded on the wool trade Bruges is also home to fine restaurants, world class art galleries and museums.

Content Cows Milk in Half the Time
Tuesday, 29 July 2014 10:38
SEIZING the opportunity to replace outdated, noisy in parlour feeders with the latest Dutch dairy technology has saved Andrew Murray time and money.
 The first British milk producer to install PipeFeeder In Parlour Feeders from Hanskamp AgroTech says milking times have been almost halved, compound feed bills controlled and working in the parlour made much more pleasant.
 Andrew Murray almost halved milking time by installing the PipeFeeder in parlour feeding system from Hanskamp AgroTech.
 Andrew runs the family farm at Murray’s Hollows near Rathfriland in Co Down with the support of his father David.  All milk from their 85 strong Murray Vale Pedigree Holstein Herd going to United Dairy Farmers, the largest dairy co-operative in Northern Ireland. 
 “Our old in parlour feeders urgently needed replaced as they wasted costly compounds and our time. Cows were eating all their feed quickly and then making a deafening noise thumping the feeders trying to get more!  Above all, their milk release was delayed so cow traffic through the parlour was moving ever slower.
 “After some discussion with Andrew Dunn of our dairy equipment suppliers Francis Dunn Ltd at Donaghadee we placed an order for PipeFeeder last year.
 “Simple to install and use the Pipe Feeders were lengthened to suit our dairy unit, which has excellent head room. Thus they are almost 8ft long and so only needed refilled once a day.
 “Our experience since switching to Hanskamp AgroTech PipeFeeders has been entirely positive. The design is very practical and build quality is to the usual high standards of Dutch manufacturers.
  “The big difference anyone coming into our parlour at milking time notices is that the cows are quiet and content.
 “Hardly surprising as the computer controlled PipeFeeder in front of each cow offers the allotted amount of feed in small amounts throughout her milking time. Thus cows come forward into the parlour without fuss, stay calm and release milk quickly.”
 David and Andrew have a De Laval 12 point swing over  parlour and with PipeFeeder in use see no need for a kick back bar. Their herd averaged 8200 litres sold per cow over the past year on 1.85t of compound feed.  Farming in an area of outstanding grass growth means sward management has a high priority as has silage quality with some whole crop wheat also going into the silos.
 In parlour feeding has traditionally been popular as it makes cows keen to come in for milking, but the downside included over use of costly concentrates, cows finishing eating too soon and becoming unsettled. 
 To solve these problems Hanskamp AgroTech developed PipeFeeder, an innovative concentrate dosing system offering cows small portions of feed throughout milking. Thus concentrates are not wasted, cows stay calm and rapidly release their milk.
The PipeFeeder is made of robust stainless steel with concentrates contained in the steel pipe. The ingenious dosing system built into the bottom minimizing the noise of pellets falling on metal.
  The motor housing is available in black, red, blue or green though blue was the obvious choice for Everton supporter Andrew, who also played for many years with leading Northern Ireland amateur side Rathfriland.
 For further information on PipeFeeder tel.; 00 31 314 393 797, email This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it or browse www.hanskampagrotech.nl  
 Hanskamp AgroTech will exhibit PipeFeeder at the Livestock Event, Birmingham July 2-3, and the Irish National Ploughing Championships, Stradbally, Sept 23-25

Local Growers Soft Fruit Asc
Tuesday, 29 July 2014 10:33
A Northern Ireland Soft Fruit Growers Association has been formed to support local producers expanding output to meet the rising demand for local produce.
 With local produce the time from farm to shop is minimal compared to imported fruit thus giving consumers a much fresher product with a longer shelf.
NI Soft Fruit Growers Association chairman Peter Donnelly of Dungannon is confident the ‘Love Local’ campaign will boost demand for fresh, high quality, strawberries, raspberries and gooseberries from local farms. “Locally grown and delivered promptly to retailers NI produce comes with that superb taste of freshness local consumers love.”
The mew NI Soft Fruit Growers Association (NISFGA) will represent the needs and interests of members as well as helping growers develop and improve their operations.
 According to DARD the NI soft fruit sector’s output is valued at £700k per annum, which, although small in comparison to the apple dominated top fruit sector valued at £10mn per annum, shows great potential. 
 Soft fruit production is dominated by strawberries (184t) followed by raspberries (19.9t) and gooseberries (9t). In the RoI their soft fruit sector is worth €37 million according to Teagasc, the Irish Agriculture and Food Development Authority. The sector having grown by 190% over the past decade in the Republic demonstrates the increasing consumer demand for local soft fruit.  
 Strongly supported by the Dublin government growers in the RoI have invested heavily in the capital infrastructure needed to accommodate such growth. In Northern Ireland there is also an increasing demand for local produce as consumers are now more knowledgeable about the benefits of buying local in terms of quality and freshness.  
NISFGA plan to promote their ‘Love Local’ campaign and offer a range of services to members. The Association is currently in consultation with growers and Government officials to determine the needs of the sector and how it can be supported. NISFGA aims to become the central knowledge base for producers by providing vital information on best practice techniques, industry updates and offering growers opportunities to avail of training courses, best practice visits and agronomy services. NISFGA will also organise regular meetings for members to come together to offer each other advice and support. 

 This new Association for the soft fruit sector was born out of a project, supported by the Supply Chain Development Programme, where six growers met regularly to share information and advice. With government support and that of facilitator Valerie Brown the group was able to avail of best practice visits to strawberry farms in GB and the Netherlands. They also benefited greatly from attending training courses and having specialist agronomists visit their farms.
 The impact of this support was incredible so these growers decided to establish the Association to co-ordinate and offer similar support to growers across the province on a permanent basis. 
 Local strawberries are currently sold mainly in smaller independent greengrocers and convenience stores, but the Association plans to support growers seeking to do business with larger supermarkets. 
  Dungannon producer Peter Donnelly, Chairman of NISFGA, commented that “The learning we all experienced as a result of the supply chain programme was incredible.
 “We are a long way behind our counterparts in GB and the RoI in terms of investment and infrastructure, but with our new found knowledge we have now a clear roadmap of where this sector needs to go. Currently the market in NI is supplied mainly by imports, but the Association is confident that over the next 5-10 years we can grow our local industry to become a success story similar to that in the Republic.” 

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