godroThe newsletter for the Welsh dairy industryPreparing foroutwintering– pgs 2 & 3Keep hooveshealthy– pgs 5 & 6ISSUE 18. JULY 2013Steve Hughsonin the Hot Seat– pg 7Come and visit us atthe Royal Welsh Show– pg 8
Note fromthe EditorWith everyone looking forward to theRoyal Welsh Show next week, onpage 8 you will find a special RoyalWelsh Show preview with details ofwhat the Dairy Development Centrestand, which will include a DairyCopresence, has to offer each day.Successful outwintering needscareful planning and attention todetail in order to deliver financialbenefits and ensure that high animalwelfare and environmental standardscan be maintained. To learn howone farmer has managed to reducehis winter feed costs throughoutwintering see pages 2 and 3.On pages 4 and 5 Grass Valueproject officer John Owen comparesthe grass growth between Januaryand May in 2011, 2012 and 2013and reveals an exciting extension tothe Grass Value project.Current lameness prevalence inGB dairy herds suggests that up toone cow in three is lame to somedegree – but it’s hard to spot in itsearly stages and varies greatly fromfarm to farm. Find out about thelatest DairyCo research to tacklelameness on page 5.In the Hot Seat this time isSteve Hughson, the new chiefexecutive officer of the Royal WelshAgricultural Society. With the RoyalWelsh Show fast approachingthe Godro team set out to learnmore about the farmer’s son fromNewbridge-On-Wye and hisaspirations for the future.Please continue to send us yourfeedback as well as suggestions forcontent in future issues.Editor:Menna DaviesE-mail: email@example.comTel: 07875 098173Demo farm focusPreparing for OutwinteringFarming Connect Demonstration Farm,Ifton Hill Farm at Portskewett, Chepstowis a 200 acre dairy unit where Pauland Melanie Rymer milk 150 Holsteinsaveraging 9700 litres/cow and run upto 130 followers, 200 store cattle and asmall flock of ewes. A further 600 acresis down to arable crops.Paul felt that outwintering his drycows gave him a good opportunity toreduce winter feed costs, and keep morestock on the farm without compromisinganimal health or investing in extralivestock housing. He therefore workedwith Sue Buckingham of IBERS GrasslandDevelopment Centre on a FarmingConnect Demonstration Farm projectto consider his options for outwinteringduring 2012.Outwintering is an option for healthydry cows in the first month of the dryperiod and youngstock weighing at least200kg. It is not suitable for “transition”dry cows in the last month of the dryperiod.Sue Buckingham, IBERS GrasslandDevelopment Centre said: “Outwinteringshould only be considered on farms withsuitable ground and where it is carefullyplanned at every stage. There are 10 keyareas to consider and if any one can’t bemet then outwintering is not an option.”Suitable soils and field selection:1. Soils: free draining, loamy2. Good air flow: soils dry after rain3. Shelter and grass run back:dry lie4. Well away from water courses5. Flat/gently sloping fields, grassbuffers6. Five year break betweenbrassicas.Site SelectionIn 2012, Paul chose 35 acres of gentlysloping free draining grass leys andfields in the arable rotation whichwere well away from water coursesand surrounded by hedges to provideshelter from the prevailing wind.Crop choiceA number of brassicas were consideredtogether with fodder beet, forage ryeand deferred grazing (grass allowedto grow and left ungrazed during latesummer). Cost of establishment, yield,energy, protein, dry matter %, sowingto grazing time and ease of feedingwere taken into account. On balance,Paul decided kale was the most suitablefor the system at Ifton Hill with a sowingto grazing time of 22 - 30 weeks.Paul selected a winter hardy kalewith a high leaf to stem ratio basing theselection on key traits including:• good disease resistance (mildew)• good DM yield• good digestibility (stem and leaf)• clubroot resistance• winter hardiness• grazing flexibility.EstablishmentSoils were tested eight weeks before the10 Key Areas to meet Production, Environment andAnimal Welfare StandardsRight attitude and approach:7. Attention to detail: crop choice,establishment, husbandry, feedout, brief local residents8. Organise in summer: fibre in fieldsso no tractors in fields in winter9. Balanced ration, minerals andwater10. Plan B: management options ifthings go wrong, cattle handling,alternative accommodation.PAGE 2
planned sowing date and slurry andfertiliser were applied to meet the needsof the growing crop. Kale requires apH of 6.0 to 6.5 and higher levels ofnutrient inputs than other brassica cropsto get good yields. A crop yielding40 tonnes fresh kale/ha with a soilnitrogen supply and phosphate indexof 2 and potash index of 2- will need110kg nitrogen plus 50kg phosphateand 200kg potash/ha. At Ifton Hillslurry plus 34.5% N was applied plusmuriate of potash as soil analysesidentified that additional potash wasneeded.The first field was ploughedand sown on 30 June 2012, withthe challenging weather conditionsdelaying planting of the remainingfields until the end of August. Grass leyswere sprayed with glyphosate then leftfor seven days when they were grazedhard to remove any dead grass beforebeing direct drilled after discing. Thearable land was direct drilled once thecrop had been harvested.Where soil is not compacted, directdrilling is a cheaper method to establishbrassicas than ploughing and providesfirmer soil surface that is less prone tohoof damage during grazing. It alsohelps to retain soil moisture in a dryyear.Seed was treated to protectseedlings against flea beetle and fungalattack and slug pellets were appliedbecause slug numbers were high in thewet conditions.Grass headlands were left aroundall the fields to provide a source of fibreand provide a dry lying area for thecows. Last year because of the highrainfall over the summer, Paul decidedto leave additional wide grass stripsacross the grass fields.Feeding• RationingKale is a high energy (11 - 13 MJ/kg DM), high protein (12 - 20% crudeprotein) feed with a dry matter ofbetween 10 and 17% and low fibrecontent so is best described as a “wetconcentrate”. It can be fed up to amaximum of 70% of the dry matterFrom left: Sue Buckingham IBERS, Paul andMelanie Rymerintake. In addition ad lib fibrous forageis needed to maintain rumen functionand to prevent acidosis. At Ifton HillPaul fed 35 - 45% dry matter wellfermented silage bales with the grassrunback providing additional fibre anda mineral formulated to balance kalefeeding.Outwintered cows use more energythan housed ones and need 10 - 15%more energy in the diet so correctrationing is crucial. Assessing cropyield is essential to work out daily feedallocation and guide electric fencemoves.Cows should be introduced to kalegradually, initially offering it for 1 - 2hours/day when they already have fullstomachs and building up to 70% drymatter intake over 7 - 10 days.• Crop ManagementAn electric fence was used to createa long narrow feed face allowing allcows to access it at any one time tomaximise crop utilisation and the kalewas strip grazed. Ideally the fence ismoved daily and grazing should startat the top of a slope to reduce the riskof runoff.Cow ManagementFoot trimming before winter helpsto reduce lameness problems. Stockshould be checked daily, ideally at aseparate time to moving the fence andany cows showing signs of conditionloss or health problems should beremoved.CostsThe overall feed bill typically representsat least 50% dairy unit variable costs,growing and efficiently utilising largeamounts of good quality forage withminimal waste is one way of cuttingcosts.Paul recorded the growing andestablishment costs of kale and thenmeasured dry matter yield and croputilisation. The cost of growing the kalevaried between 3.5 and 9.0p/kg drymatter, at least 50% of the kale wasgrazed giving an utilised feeding costof between 7.0 and 19p/kg dry matter,and a significant saving compared toconcentrate feed at over 27p/kg drymatter.Research carried out by DairyCoshowed savings in variable and fixedcosts of 89p/kg daily liveweight gainfor dairy heifers reared on stubbleturnips (DairyCo Research 2012).For further information contact FarmingConnect on 01970 636565 or e-mail:firstname.lastname@example.orgPAGE 3
Grass Value updateMonitoring grass growthArticle contributed by Grass Value project officer John OwenFollowing what was a very challengingyear in 2012 (wettest in 100 years),who would have thought that the springof 2013 could also be so cruel (coldestfor 50 years). The Grass Value Projecthas continued to monitor performanceon the twelve farms throughout thevariable weather and I guess that in aperverse way you could say that we havebenefited from extreme conditions for theduration of the project.2011 saw a very good spring withexcellent growth as the dry conditionsresulted in good grass utilisation. 2012started off well but soon turned very wetwith difficult management conditions: Apattern that was to continue for the restof the season. Spring 2013 has beenchallenging with very cold averagetemperatures resulting in very low growthrates at the sart of the growing season.Monitoring grassland production andutilisation through the three very differentspring periods has at least given usthe confidence to proclaim that we areunlikely to face more testing seasons inthe near future.Achieving the performance recordedto date on the twelve farms, under the mostdifficult of circumstances, adds weight toour belief that we in Wales should makemore use of the grass advantage that wehave over other areas of the UK.When you compare the resultshighlighted in Figure 1 you can clearlysee the contrasting performance of thethree years. The data for 2011 and 2012is the average total grass grown on theGrass Value farms, from the beginning ofJanuary to the end of June, where at thetime of printing we only have completeddata up to the end of May for 2013. Asyou can see 2013 stands out dramatically,showing a very slow start and low growthrates up to the end of March. By the endof May growth rates have caught up to theaverage daily growth rates recorded inthe previous two years, but it is clear fromFig.1SS/kg/haDM/kg/haAverage monthly growth rate2500.002000.001500.0020131000.002012500.0020110.00January February March April May JuneMonthsCyfradd tyfiant misol ar gyfartaledd2500.002000.001500.0020131000.00500.00201220110.00Ionawr Chwefror Mawrth Ebrill Mai MehefinMisoeddFig.2Average readings of the 12 farms (DM/kg/ha)2013 2012 2011January 13.25 6.29 31.42February 119.63 217.30 183.26March 124.40 739.68 597.33April 665.02 1119.24 1698.01May 1918.93 2043.54 1491.27Total 2841.23 4126.06 4001.29PAGE 4
Figure 2 that the accumulated season’sgrowth is considerably down.There is a belief within the industrythat most seasons’ accumulated growthrates will average out and any earlyseason deficit will be made up as theyear progresses. The first two years ofrecording on Grass Value showed that thiswas not true. However, early indicationsfor June 2013 show that the mid-seasondownturn in growth usually seen early inImproving grassland management could be beneficial to all farmers andfollowing two very successful years of recording, we are now looking for morefarmers to join Grass Value.The recruited farmers will be provided with grassland management supportas well as support to set up a grassland recording system.Successful applicants will need to demonstrate dedication to improve theirgrassland management and would need to commit to carrying out weekly grassgrowth recordings. A technician will visit each farm once a month and recruitedfarmers will be asked to liaise with the technicians and project officer, John Owen.Successful candidates that don’t possess a rising plate meter will be askedto purchase one and to record grass growth in-between technician visits usingAgrinet, an online grass recording system.In return the successful applicants will receive free grassland managementsupport from the project officer, free monthly grass recording visits from a projecttechnician, access to peer support and peer grassland management benchmarking.Farmers interested in joining Grass Value should contact John Owen at theDairy Development Centre on 01554 email@example.com by 1 August 2013.Discover Dairythe month has not yet materialised, whichmeans that the continued good growthis contributing towards making up thedeficit, as is shown in Figure 2. To makeup this significant shortfall the remainderof 2013 will need to give us exceptionalgrowing conditions.Visit the Dairy Development Centrestand at the Royal Welsh Show to get upto date results, and to hear more aboutthe Grass Value farms.When we ask you, the dairy farmer, what you would like to seeDairyCo doing more of, the message comes through loud and clear- enhance the public’s perception of dairy.In this vein DairyCo are launching a new marketing campaign this summer ina bid to encourage the British public to ‘Discover Dairy’.The wide-reaching programme of activities will include a refresh of DairyCo’swebsite www.thisisdairyfarming.com, a new twitter programme, PR work andnew video content. The campaign will encourage people to seek out and engagewith www.thisisdairyfarming.com to learn more about modern dairy farming.The website engages with consumers by presenting the realities of moderndairy farming while also dispelling myths and misconceptions about the industry.Farmers can learn more about the campaign by signing up to get regularupdates at www.dairyco.org.uk/sign-up.DairyCo are also pleased to announce that they will have a presence at theFood & Drink Wales Pavilion (stand number E395) at the Royal Welsh Show. Tolearn how DairyCo are working with farmers to promote a positive perception ofdairy farming to consumers; and with others to provide educational resources ondairy farming, why not call in to see us on the stand.News in briefAgri waste exemptionsMany farm activities involve thestorage, recycling and disposal offarm wastes. The waste exemptionsystem has changed and farmers willneed to register their farm in the newsystem by 30 September 2013.There are about 60 wasteexemptions in total – and manyof these are relevant to farmers,including:• anaerobic digestion of manureand slurry• composting vegetation waste• using clean builders rubble inthe foundations of a new barn orshed• burning hedge trimmings in theopen• spreading dredgings from fieldditches to land.Most activities can be registeredas exempt from the need to have anenvironmental permit – but you willneed to register your exemption withNatural Resources Wales beforeyou carry out your waste activity. Ifsome of those activities are no longerexempt because of changes to limitsand conditions, you will need to stopthe activity or apply for a permit.Register for the new exemptions atwww.naturalresourceswales.gov.uk.Glastir Entry 2014Farmers are reminded that theymust submit their Glastir Entry 2014application by 31 July 2013 if theywish to be included in the next selectionprocess for Glastir Efficiency Grants orGlastir Advanced.The final deadline for all GlastirEntry applications with a start date of 1Jan 2014 is 30 September 2013.Farmers can order an applicationpack from their nearest WelshGovernment Divisional Office.PAGE 5
Mobility and lamenessKeep hooves healthyArticle contributed by Dr. Jenny Gibbons, R&D Manager, DairyCoCows are a prey species, so aredesigned to mask early signs of illnessincluding lameness. In many casescows will go several weeks with painfulfoot lesions prior to showing obviousdiscomfort. This delay has been shownto adversely affect dry matter intake,milk yield, fertility and longevity. Bythe time a cow shows visible signsof lameness, the disease is usuallyadvanced and her productivity will havebeen seriously impaired for severalweeks. Therefore, identifying lame cowsas early as possible is essential.Current lameness prevalence inGB dairy herds suggests that one inthree cows may have some degreeof lameness, but this varies greatlyfrom farm to farm, with some farmshaving very low rates, and otherssuffering with impaired mobility inmore than half of their cows. A recentsurvey funded by DairyCo shows thatcows with small changes in mobilityare not always selected for furtherexamination in a foot crush. This maybe due to the fact that identifying theearly signs of lameness can be difficult.While most farmers can identify cowsthat have severely impaired mobility,identifying cows with small changesin mobility requires some training.The survey carried out by Bristol VetSchool confirmed that lack of time orinadequate equipment were barriersto further investigation of cows withreduce mobility. Research from previousstudies show that if a cow’s feet arelifted at the earliest opportunity, farmerscould save time, reduce costs and theseverity of the cow’s lameness.When aiming to reduce lameness inthe dairy herd, one of the first places tolook is housing. Evaluating the housingfrom the cows’ perspective is importantto identify where improvements canbe made to help reduce lameness.Research demonstrates that the farmswith higher levels of lameness oftenhave older cubicle facilities withcubicle dimensions that are too smallfor modern dairy cows. A recent studyshowed that cows spent 1.5 morehours lying down in heavily beddedcubicles and spent less time standingwith only their front legs in the cubiclewhen mattresses were heavily bedded.These changes in standing and lyingbehaviour indicate they’re hesitant tolie down on poorly bedded mattresses,and may also account for a higherincidence of lameness than cows lyingon deep-bedded cubicles.Studies in Canada have shownthat even when cows have access towell-designed cubicles they only spendabout half of the day lying down. Theyspend the other 12 hours on their feet,so it is important to consider the qualityand cleanliness of the flooring in yourpassageways and collecting yards.Research has shown that there arepositive and negatives to different typeof flooring with results indicating that acombination of flooring types can oftenbe beneficial with regard to hoof health.Lameness is impossible to manageunless you measure it, and routinemobility scoring allows you to do this.Over the years, several scoring systemshave been developed to assess thedegree of lameness in dairy cattle whichare based on observations of the cow’swalking gait, behaviour and weightdistribution. However, the DairyCoMobility Score has been developedto become the industry standard formeasuring lameness in dairy herds. Thesystem enables producers and their staffto pick up the early signs of lamenessbefore they develop into seriousproblems and is simple enough to use onfarm every month.Interested in learning more about lameness?Join Dr. Jon Huxley and Hettie Thomas from Nottingham University at Banhadla Farm,Llangedwyn, Oswestry, SY10 9LD on 26 September. The open event will see the vetsdiscuss the importance of treating lame cows promptly as well as the most effectiveand practical treatment protocols for claw horn lesions. The event will also provide anopportunity to learn more about the DairyCo Mobility Scoring System and how it canbe beneficial to your herd. An event focussing on lameness prevention will also be heldat Coedwynog Farm, Felindre Farchog, Crymych, SA41 3XW on 21 August whenKiwi vet Neil Chesterton will be sharing his expertise on the matter. For more details onboth events contact firstname.lastname@example.org or call 024 7647 8707.The DairyCo Mobility Scoring DVD and other resources are available to all dairyfarmers and can be requested online at www.dairyco.org.uk or by calling 024 76478702. The DairyCo Mobility Score system forms part of the DairyCo Healthy FeetProgramme. A group of trained “mobility mentors” deliver customised programmesfor dairy farmers to reduce and control lameness. For more information or to find atrained mobility mentor near you visit www.dairyco.org.uk/healthyfeet.PAGE 6
In the hot seatSteve HughsonRWAS Chief Executive OfficerAfter being in charge of front-linepolicing for the whole of Dyfed andPowys for several years what attractedyou to the role of Chief ExecutiveOfficer of the Royal Welsh AgriculturalSociety?Firstly I was born and bred a stone’sthrow away from Builth Wells with myparents farming just up the road atNewbridge-On-Wye. My family andI attend the Royal Welsh every yearand I understand the show and whatit means to the farming communityand others. I was an active memberof our local young farmers club andwhilst I did all the usual speaking,drama and reading competitions myfavourite competition by far was stockjudging.Having won at the countyrally, I had the pleasure of competingat the Royal Welsh Show and at theRoyal Smithfield Show. In the police Iworked hard for many years with theSociety during the show to improvetraffic management and the way weresponded to emergencies and otherincidents, so when the vacancy wasadvertised it just seemed like fate haddealt me a perfect hand. Not only isthe job perfect for me in terms of mybackground but also because of theleadership command skills that I haveacquired as a senior police officer.The Brown Swiss breed will beappearing at the Royal Welsh for thefirst time this year, have you got anyplans to further expand the dairysection at the show?To be honest the Brown Swiss is not anexpansion but rather a replacementfor two other breeds, the South Devonand Saler breeds, which have beenremoved following a fall in numbers.The Brown Swiss breed is includeddue to its growth in popularity as theSociety is keen to keep abreast of thechanging trends in agriculture andto be current in our offering. In termsof expanding, as we are already theshow that hosts the largest number oflivestock in the UK with nearly 8000entries, as you can imagine space is aconstant challenge. But we do strive tocontinually improve our facilities andI am confident that if the need ariseswe will be able to meet with the paceand needs of the changing world ofagriculture.The Society will have a new exhibitionof innovation in agriculture at theshow this year. Do you feel the societyshould be leading the way in terms ofinnovation?Absolutely! Part of the Society’sobjectives is not only to organise threeevents a year but to lead the wayin terms of agriculture, horticulture,forestry and new technologies. Ibelieve the Tomorrow Today exhibitionat the Green Pavilion is a greatnew idea as it will showcase newtechnologies that are market ready. Itdemonstrates the Society’s willingnessto play its role in developing theagricultural industry. I very muchbelieve that the Society should showleadership in this area and be at theforefront of agricultural innovation.Do you feel the society has a role toplay in teaching the general publicabout food and where it comes from?Again, absolutely yes! There is a hugegap in knowledge, with a number ofyoung people believing that the milk intheir carton and the food on their platecomes directly from the supermarket.The Society has certainly got a rolein education as it fits with one of ourobjectives. We are looking forwardto welcoming more children to theshow this year due to end of termschool dates and I’m sure they will beeducated during their visit. But we arelooking to expand on this provision inthe future as we hope to develop aneducational trail at the show wherepeople can follow food productionfrom the gate to the plate.What do you feel are the biggestchallenges that lie ahead of theSociety and yourself as the new ChiefExecutive Officer?Firstly my challenge is to follow in thefootsteps of David. They say you shouldnever try to succeed anybody successful,which means that taking on the roleis an error on my part. My challengetherefore is to follow on with the legacythat David has built over the years, withthe aim of expanding the legacy evenfurther. The biggest challenge of theSociety is to build on the tradition thathas made the Society successful, suchas the Feature County, County AdvisoryCommittees and the thousand and morestewards that give of their time freely tohelp with the events. All of the abovecreates a sense of shared ownershipwithin the Society, so our challenge isto balance all of that tradition with theneed to evolve and look for new ideas.Another challenge is to be more efficientin the wake of rising costs and one ofour aims is to be more creative in theway we use the showground outside ofthe three main events. Indeed with thisyear being our 50th year at Llanelweddour challenge is to build a strong andsustainable Society for another 50 yearsand beyond.On a lighter note:If you were a dairy breed, what breedwould you be and why?As a son of a beef and sheep farmerchoosing a dairy breed would goagainst the grain. Given my love forthe mountains and the fact that I’mquite independent and given the factthat I am a proud Welshman and aproud holder of this office at the RoyalWelsh Show I can only wish to be onebreed – Welsh Black of course!PAGE 7
The Royal Welsh ShowCome and visit us at the Royal Welsh ShowThe 2013 Royal Welsh Show promisesto be a bumper year with more than7000 livestock entries received. Theentries include 177 dairy animals,which is an increase of 41 animals onlast year. Making an appearance forthe first time in the dairy lines will bethe Brown Swiss breed, with 17 entriesforward. There will also be plenty to seeon the Dairy Development Centre standwhere DairyCo will also be present.To get your show morning off to agood start why not join us for a lightbreakfast from 8.30am each morningwhen we will be serving breakfastcereals and Welsh milk to Welsh dairyfarmers attending the show.MondayEnergy will be our focus on Monday asexperts from the Farm Energy Centrewill be on hand throughout the dayto answer any questions you haverelating to energy and fuel efficiency.On the stand you will also find thelatest electricity prices so that you cancheck if you are getting a fair dealfrom your provider. If you would liketo participate in our renewable energymonitoring programme where we areaiming to monitor existing installationsand compare their actual performanceagainst the performance data providedprior to installation then call in to speakPAGE 8to Energy Efficiency project officer NeilNicholas. If you would also like to getinvolved in our investigation into energycosts where we are aiming to examineand compare diesel, electricity andwater cost on intensive and extensivefarms then please call in at the stand tolearn more.TuesdayCollaboration will be the key message onTuesday as we turn our attention to theopportunities that are available throughcollaborative ventures. Tony Evans fromThe Andersons Centre will be presenton the stand throughout the day and willbe more than happy to explain how ajoint venture could prove to be a goodopportunity for you. You will also finda number of booklets on the stand thatprovide information on the type of jointventures available to dairy farmers, soplease call in to pick up your free copies.WednesdayEfficient grass use will be the focus onWednesday as we will be revealingthe latest results from the Grass Valuemodule including the full results of thefirst two years of grass recordings takenacross Wales. GrassValue project officerJohn Owen will be onhand to discuss theresults as well as answerany grassland queriesyou may have.ThursdayAs the show comes toa close on Thursdaywe will be turning ourattentions to dairy healthas veterinary surgeonsfrom the Royal Veterinary College willbe present on the stand to discuss dairyhealth issues. Therefore, please feel freeto call in with your dairy health queries.DairyCoDairyCo extension officers RichardDavies, Louise Thomas, Hugh Black andNicola Fair will be on the stand duringthe week to answer any dairy queriesyou may have. Our dedicated team ofdairy specialists will also be able toguide you through the host of technicalinformation that DairyCo can provideyou with in order to support yourbusiness development and help youmeet current and future challenges.Opportunities for improvingefficiency are demonstrated clearlywhen farms use benchmarking tools tocompare data sets across a variety offarms and farming systems. Milkbench+provides you with the opportunityto take a really close look at, andcompare your farm’s performancewith that of others. Milkbench+ officerFfion Jones and DairyCo extensionofficers will be on hand throughout theweek to explain how the benchmarkingservice can help your business.