No Molasses Price Rise
Friday, 28 January 2011 10:18

“MOLASSES prices have not and will not rise this winter,” the excellent news for farmers from David Malseed, managing director at Belfast based United Molasses.

Record price rises this winter for other raw materials such as maize, wheat and soya means that using more molasses makes sound financial sense for local livestock producers.

David Malseed of United Molasses

Daily feeding rates of molasses to dairy cows can be gradually increased from 0.5kg to one kilo a head to reduce the amount of costly cereals in the diet. Molasses typically includes 50% digestible sugars so is a superior source of energy at a reasonable cost and stimulates both starch and fibre digestion.

Molasses also binds and moistens the ration making the animal’s diet much more palatable and dust free. On dairy farms, for example, dry matter intake can be boosted by 10% when molasses levels in the ration are increased. Rising grain prices regularly feature in the national news as one of the causes of high street food price inflation. Price rises that are only partly caused by natural disasters such as the Russian drought and fires last autumn or the on going floods across Queensland.

According to David Malseed of United Molasses the main cause of these raw materials becoming more costly is the rapidly rising demand from Asian nations such as India and China. Lands where a booming economy means millions of hard working citizens now aspire to enjoy the same varied diet as those of us living in western countries.

“Since early last January maize has risen from £142 a tonne to £215 per tonne with wheat firming over the past 12 months from £127 to £215 per tonne. Soya costing £311 a tonne in Belfast on 5 Jan 2011 was £296 a tonne the same week last year.

“By contrast molasses prices have not risen dramatically and will remain at current levels until at least April. A cost certainty dairy farmers in particular find very attractive when grain prices seem set to remain high for the foreseeable future.”

For further details and advice on using molasses to reduce your animal feed costs contact United Molasses, tel; (028) 9074 7011 or visit

Lamb Reviver Box Launched
Friday, 28 January 2011 10:11

A Lamb Reviver Box to save lamb lives and farmers’ time for many years to come has been developed by farm based Solway Recycling of Dumfries. Lambs suffering from Hypothermia are provided with a constant flow of warm air to heat them up in the safety of this draught free Lamb Reviver Box. Easily kept clean to avoid a build up of disease the Solway Lamb Reviver Box is manufactured from 100% recycled agricultural waste plastic The durability of this plastic also means a Lamb Reviver Box should go on saving your valuable lambs for a lifetime.

Solway's Lamb Reviver Box

Designed to give weak lambs the best possible chance of recovery the new Solway Lamb Reviver Box can be supplied flat packed or erected ready to use complete with a convector heater. It has four compartments, but is easily adjusted into two or three warm spaces to suit the size of lambs.

Why make do and mend, wasting your time and loosing lambs when the Solway Lamb Reviver Box is available at a special, introductory offer of £199 plus VAT, including a free heater and free delivery.

Dimensions – 900mm long x 500mm wide x 650 mm deep, excluding heater protection compartment. Weight - 29.5 kilos

For further details contact Solway Recycling Tel; 01387 730666, e-mail This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it or visit

The Law and The Land are Yours
Tuesday, 09 November 2010 17:06

Brian Walker, a prominent Portadown solicitor specialising in agricultural affairs, proved a thought provoking speaker for a thronged British Blue Breeders meeting in Moira.


“THE law of the land exists to protect the rights of ordinary citizens, including farmers, not to benefit our numerous bureaucrats” Brian Walker, told Blue Breeders and their guests.

“I urge you to use the law to protect your family asset, the land you and yours have and will farm for generations. Making use of professionals, be they lawyers, accountants or valuers with specialist knowledge of rural affairs you can protect your farm from damage by bureaucrats and unnecessary tax!” However, it is the law of economics, which Brian believes will finally generate action on the TB front as regards removing this disease from the badger population.

Solicitor Brian Walker was the guest speaker at this months Northern Ireland Blue Cattle Club Meeting in Moira. Sharing the top table is Robert Johnston, Club Chairman.

“The sheer shortage of funding will finally force a reality check in Defra and the agricultural departments of the three devolved administrations, including DARD. Already senior government vets admit that badgers are part of the reason why, unlike most western nations, we have been unable to control, never mind eradicate this costly killer disease. Government Officials now confirm the question is not whether badgers carry the disease, but the extent to which they do.

“Economic reality, not the lobby groups, will at long last remove TB from the countryside saving money, farm businesses and cattle, a move vitally important for human health.”

For the farm family facing a TB disaster Brian, well known nationally as UK legal advisor to the National Beef Association, had very practical suggestions. “When reactors are found get that camera out and take lots of pictures of the individual animals, isolate them as requested and provide DARD officials with photocopies of paperwork such as mart receipts, pedigree certificates and records of genetic progress.

“Remember the folks from DARD are usually friendly decent people, but they are there to do their job on behalf of the Government.

“Compensation will never, ever cover your true losses, especially if a herd is wiped out. There is sometimes no limit to compensation payable per animal and you are entitled to the true value of the animal as if sold at a dispersal sale.

“Be very careful and realise the dangers of quoting the price gained by ‘an equivalent animal’ at a reduction rather than a dispersal sale!

Visitors to Moira for the recent Northern Ireland Blue Cattle Club Meeting.

“Legislation covering some animals taken by DARD says the owner should get the open market value with no limit shown in law. Talk of a £4000 per animal ceiling is just barrack room lawyer chat from around the mart. “Get you ducks in a row and be prepared to put your case politely and logically to DARD and, if need be, to the appeals tribunal.

“Never, ever attend for ‘a wee interview’ in DARD premises without a solicitor present specialising in these affairs. Many farmers have gone along to find their interviews being tape recorded as seen on TV police series.

“Those tapes can be used for criminal prosecution by DARD so do not think that wee chat is just between you and your friendly local ‘ministry man.’ You could be walking into a huge court case, even a criminal rather than a civil action, under TB, Brucellosis, environmental or other legislation.”

As regards Brucellosis outbreaks Brian Walker suggests DARD is strong on churning out PR, but not on providing scientific facts.

“How can the disease be eradicated in the Irish Republic, but not here and why does the problem become worse every time legislation here is changed in a vain attempt to save money in the short term? This suggests the lack of progress is due to poor government rather than any idea that farmers in Ulster are poorer at livestock husbandry than their peers in the Republic.

“Farmers must understand some key facts. There is not and has never been a conclusive, accurate test for Brucellosis other than by post mortem of suspects. The blood test for Brucellosis is only an indicator of the disease. Live blood tests can give wrong results.

Solicitor Brian Walker, second from left, was the guest speaker at this months Northern Ireland Blue Cattle Club Meeting in Moira and he is pictured here with, from left: Harold McKee, Club Secretary and Gladys, Henry and Natalie Hodgen, Clare, Tandragee.

“Right across these islands Brucellosis has been controlled other than in this tiny province. DARD failure to do so here is a disgrace and a huge threat to human health, not least for farmers, vets and their families. Vets tell me it is almost impossible to handle cattle with Brucellosis safely as just one splash of fluid may give you a disease that may not be cured and may damage key body organs such as the heart.

“When, one wonders, will DARD and our devolved administration deal conclusively with this deadly danger?” 


AS a breeder of pedigree Limousin and Shorthorn cattle on his family farm Co Armagh solicitor Brian Walker was well placed to give practical advice to British Blue breeders.

“As you look forward to your annual autumn export status sale in Moira Arena on Sat, Oct 23 pay attention to every detail of paperwork. Be polite with DARD staff, who often are trying hard to understand confusing paperwork, but do call a spade a spade.

“At home think ahead when TB testing looms and do not, ever, inject an animal on the same side as the reading is taken because some animal health products, however good, leave a small lump. The very last thing you need around the site of a TB reading!

“Remember if a vet was to carry out a TB test according to the EU rule book he would take several minutes with even a quiet Holstein dairy cow. Thus the practical vet may find a compromise between what is possible and what is ideal or theoretical. Therefore do not risk injecting anywhere near TB injecting and clipping sites, ideally inject on the other side of the neck.

“On your own farm ask all DARD staff to maintain full bio security when they visit and keep records, on the day every day, of stock movements and animal health actions.

“The NI Assembly has just pushed into law a new Diseases of Animal Act, which allows DARD to enforce new standards with huge implications for any farm business.

“Wearing the same clothes to the mart as on your farm can now lead to reduced compensation in cases of disease outbreak. Failure to meet the standards laid down such as double fencing and changes of clothing puts large amounts of money at risk.

Visitors to Moira for the Northern Ireland Blue Cattle Club Meeting included from left: Jason Edgar, Downpatrick; Jim Sloan, Kilkeel; Ivan Gordon, Kilkeel, Vice Chairman of club and Richard Cleland, Downpatrick.

“Fail to meet bio security standards when an inspector calls, even if he called on some other matter, and you may be in big trouble. For example, during a test the inspector you have known for years is required to check the percentage of cattle without ear tags and the standard of record keeping. “So if you want Single Farm Payments kept safe and compensation secured keep the farm records as required and be aware of new rules and regulations oozing out of Stormont.”


FARMING families must sit down and discuss plans for passing on their land and update wills every five years if much hurt and high inheritance tax bills are to be avoided Brian Walker says.

“ Tax officials are out to raise revenue so you must plan to pass property on without giving your family problems. With every will, do give enduring power of attorney to responsible family members to act should your mental health fail as diagnosed by your GP.

“Far cheaper to do it with your will than to have your family pay thousands of pounds for a court action when a parent can no longer make their own decisions.

“Naturally I want farmers to use lawyers with specialist knowledge, but also urge you to use accountants and valuers, who are fully qualified and experienced in rural affairs. People, who can appear on your behalf before tribunals and courts to really make a case as expert witnesses.

“Turning to inheritance tax and issues such as conacre land and nursing home care for the elderly please do not panic.

“Using local professionals who know their subject and know you most problems can be avoided at a fraction of the cost likely if matters are let drift. “As ever, record keeping and planning ahead yields dividends, not least when it comes to conacre land and inheritance tax. Show HMRC that you are paying for fencing, cleaning sheughs, hedge cutting, water and public liability cover.

Alex McKinstry, Hillhall; Raymond Boyes, Broomhedge, Moira and Bert Cooper, Rural Support, Lisburn enjoying the speaker at the Northern Ireland Blue Cattle Club Meeting.

“To avoid social services taking a family home to pay for nursing home fees ensure the property is in join names or tenants in common. Again action, even months before full time care is needed, can save huge sums.”


EVEN an errant wife perceived by some as the ‘guilty party’ is entitled to a share of the farm business, as the law does no longer apportions blame for a marital break up British Blue cattle breeders were told.

Brian Walker adding that those married for a long number of years might expect 50% of the farm and more recent wives around a third. Getting a current value at divorce plus records of input to the business was vital. “For example, land with development value three years ago of £1 million an acre is now, typically, worth £80,000 per acre.

“As regards spouses ‘leaving the house to herself her day’ is no longer possible unless by mutual agreement. The law states that the surviving spouse is entitled to reasonable provision.

“The old idea of the farm to the son, but daughters left with little is from another age. At many deathbeds elderly fathers have realised that the one, who cared for them in their final months has not been properly taken care of in the will.

“Hence the need for family members to sit down and discuss their future plans and the future of the farm. Action, which can avoid those horrendous family fallouts after a will is read!

Blue Bus Outing
Monday, 19 July 2010 16:51

All with an interest in first-rate livestock farming are welcome aboard the NI Blue Cattle Breeders Club coach run to two leading Leinster farms on Sat, July 31.

Saunder’s Grove Farm, pictured, near Baltinglass, Co Wicklow has been home to the Kelly family since Eamon and Peggy move from their home farm at Claudy, Co Londonderry 16 years ago.

Saunder’s Grove Farm

Now farming with their son John the Kellys keep 300 sheep and 70 suckler cows, mainly three quarters bred Limousins run with Belgian Blue bulls to produce stock ideal for the Italian export trade. A farm where nothing is left out according to NI Blue Club chairman Robert Johnston. “This is a very successful operation where quality stock, great grassland management, winter housing and animal welfare are always top priority.”

In contrast to the autumn calving sucklers at Eamon Kelly’s the second farm on the Blue Club outing owned by Irish Farmers’ Association out spoken deputy president Derek Deane at Hacketstown, Co Carlow runs 120 spring calving sucklers. No doubt Derek will also be able to supply the Ulster visitors with some lively debate on the future of farming and food marketing!

For tickets and details of collections points on an away day to remember phone Robert Johnston 078154 95868 or Harold McKee tel; 07711483078. Early booking is most strongly advised.

Embise Excellence Impresses
Monday, 19 July 2010 16:49

Belgian agriculture is dominated by family farms where hard work and high standards of stockmanship are the norm as Rodney Magowan found on a visit to this small nation at the heart of European culture and commerce.

Farming on the southern fringes of the Flemish Ardennes Christian Leleux has devoted a lifetime to building up the Embise Belgian Blue Herd, which has produced numerous award winners at home and abroad.

Christian Leleux, flanked by son Laurent, left, and Belgian Blue Cattle Society CEO Pierre Mallieu, right, explains why the ultimate beef terminal sire so dominates livestock farming in Belgium. Visiting agricultural journalists also heard that some Belgian breeders were using British Blue genetics as a means of increasing size and making calving easier.

On leaving Ath Agricultural College Christain worked as an agricultural mechanic until 1976 when he acquired a 25ha farm and stocked it with 60 Belgian Blues.

His new wife Claire devoting her considerable energies to running a Holstein dairy herd and continuing a career off farm!

Over thirty years later they farm 80 ha with the Embise Pedigree Belgian Blue Herd now their primary enterprise though Claire still runs a dairy herd. Their son Laurent, who is equally enthusiastic about Blues, completed an agronomy course at Ath and came home to the family farm in 2003. Currently the family have 35ha under grass, 15ha wheat, 15ha maize silage, four ha hay, five ha sugar beet and another six ha in potatoes. A 70 strong Holstein dairy herd keeps the cash flowing and provides receptors for Belgian Blue embryos.

In all 210 Belgian Blue cattle are kept, both pedigree and commercial, including 50 bulls deemed not suitable for breeding that are finished entire for beef. Aside from continued investment in quality stock the Leleuxs have invested in an impressive array of stock housing. This includes an airy shed for 100 Belgian Blue cattle in easily managed pens opening out onto grazing with a quarter loft for hay and straw down each side of the shed.

Apart from being natural stockmen father and son, Christian and Laurent, make excellent use of data supplied by the Belgian Blue Herd Book, Only first category bulls are used with size, conformation, meat yield and sound legs high priority traits.

“We also take into account working with the breed society traits such as gestation length, birth weight, suckling ability, vitality, mortality and mouth quality,” Laurent explained.

More than a dozen AI stations across the Kingdom of Belgium have acquired Embise bulls, which are also popular with leading breeders in both the Netherlands and France.

Of the many championships won at shows such as Libramont, Tournai and Brussels the family were delighted to emphasis successes by Embise bred stock at the Royal Show, Stoneleigh and in the American National Belgian Blue Show at Madison.

However, with many of their markets now seeking the British Blue larger framed animal with easy calving traits breeders generally in Belgium are looking towards the UK for genetics. Adapting to meet the needs of different markets has long been at the heart of Belgian success in business be it producing beer, boots or bulls!

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