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Provita to host series of sheep lameness talks

Provita has confirmed that it is to host a series of sheep lameness talks over the coming weeks. Two venues and dates have been confirmed. The first will take place in Markethill Sale Yard on Wednesday June 29th, commencing at 6.00pm. The address is Markethill Sale Yard, 12 Cladymilltown Road, Armagh, BT60 1RS.  The following day, Thursday June 30th, two events will be hosted by Carrickfergus flockowner Edward Adamson. The address for this event is 6 Fort Road, Killroot, Carrickfergus, Co Aantrim, BT38 9BS. The planned starting times are 1.00pm and 6.00pm. Other dates and venues will be confirmed shortly. Read more

Lameness problems on the increase in sheep flocks


The recent boost in grass growth rates has led to increased lameness problems within sheep flocks,” according to Provita’s Tommy Armstrong.

“The problem is caused by taller stands of grass irritating the skin between the claws,” he added.

“If left unchecked, this can lead to the development of foot rot. Both ewes and lambs are equally predisposed to these problems at this time of the year. And, of course, prevention is better than cure.”

In order to make this sentiment a reality, Armstrong is encouraging flockowners to foot bath their sheep on a regular basis.

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Second cut silage swards are heading fast

Second cut silage harvesting got underway this week with farmers and contractors reporting that grass swards have headed faster than anticipated.

“We started harvesting our own second cut a few days ago,” confirmed Gilford-based milk producer and grass contractor Mark Spence.

“The recent spell of hot weather, in tandem, with the rain of recent days has really boosted grass growth rates.

“On Wednesday of this we harvested 10 acres that had been cut the first time at the beginning of May. The field in question received the equivalent of 1¾ bags of 24: 0: 6 as soon as the first cut had been taken.

“I was truly surprised at how well it had grown on over the past number of weeks. The grass was cut with a mower conditioner, allowed to wilt for 24 hours and then picked up with a John Deere self- propelled harvester. Read more

Don’t ‘over cook’ mown grass

The current hot spell is providing farmers and contractors with an excellent opportunity to make first cut silage of the highest quality, according to Provita’s Tommy Armstrong.

“Most swards are now at the right growth stage for cutting. Sugars are high and with dry matters also high grass nitrogen levels are not a problem,” he added.

“All of this adds up to the perfect scenario, from a silage making perspective, with one possible exception. Read more

Cut your meal bill by 2kg per head per day

With litres from forage on dairy farms in Northern Ireland ranging from 2260 to 4550 (Agrisearch), better forage utilisation is one of the biggest efficiency gains available.

Genetic production alignment, grazing management and better quality silage are the main factors influencing litres from forage. One method of improving forage utilisation is the use of an EU approved silage inoculant such as Provita Advance+. On farm mini-silo tests have shown yield improvements from 0.75 to 2.5 litres per cow per day. At 1 litre per cow per day this would require and extra 2kg of meal to achieve this. Another way of taking advantage of this improvement is, with silage starting quality being equal, cut the level of meal fed by 2kg per day or 300kg per winter and maintain yield at the same level. Read more

Mini silo tests prove conclusive on Co Armagh dairy farm

Co Armagh milk producer Dean Wright believes in having his silage operation made as scientific a process as possible.

“This approach gives me the best chance of having the greatest amount of control over what is a very complex process. Cutting date, weather and a host of other factors come into play when it comes to determining the quality of the silage that comes out of the pit come feeding time.” Read more

Help available to deal with difficult silage making conditions

Farmers and contractors across Northern Ireland are confirming that the return to changeable weather conditions has brought first cut silage making to a halt. But it’s not all bad news, as the rain will help bulk out those crops on which fertiliser was spread quite late in the season.

The break in harvesting will also allow farmers and contractors to get slurry out on fields that were cut earlier in May. Read more

Gettin more liters from forage

Data from the Agrisearch “Grassland performance and its relationship with profitability on 10 Northern Ireland dairy farms” shows milk from forage ranges from 2260 ltr to 4550.

Two of the farms with this highest margin were managed very differently but also very efficiently, one yielding 6000 litres on 1 t of meal and the other yielding 8700 litres on 2.3 t of meal. Both achieved approximately 3500 litres from forage. This should be a realistic aim for dairy farmers in Northern Ireland. Read more

Making better silage leads to faster finishing on Tyrone beef farm

Alastair Doran runs a combined broiler and beef finishing farm on the outskirts of Castlecaufield in South Co Tyrone. The focus of the beef business is the purchase of high quality suckler weanlings – both steers and heifers – which are finished through to beef over a 15-month period.

“I normally finish 200 cattle out of the house from January through until, the end of April,” Alastair explained. Read more

Maximising daily live weight gain from forage

“Research carried out by the Scottish Agricultural College showed that daily liveweight gain increases of up to 0.82 kilos will be achieved by feeding good quality silage with an ME of 12 as opposed to offering poor quality forages at ME of 9.6, cut approx. 3 weeks apart” Provita’s Tommy Armstrong explained.

Detailed analysis carried out by Provita, using mini-silo tests and AFBI prediction equations, has confirmed the added benefit of using the company’s new Advance+ inoculant in growing cattle. Read more