12th December 2019 - Page 16

NOVEMBER 23 2017
Farmers encouraged to attend
fodder meetings
HE Ulster Farmers’ Union
is encouraging farmers
concerned about
winter feeding to attend the
remaining CAFRE workshops
to help them prepare for the
months ahead.
UFU president Barclay
Bell said: “We have been
monitoring the fodder
situation closely given
the localised flooding and
prolonged wet weather,
which has put major feeding
pressure on farmers this
As a result of the weather,
many farmers had to house
cattle in August and struggled
to get silage cut.
“I suspect forage quality this
year will be average enough
after the first cut is taken
out of the equation. It is
imperative that farmers start
now to best manage feeding
arrangements,” said Mr Bell.
At the meetings, senior
CAFRE technologists will be
on hand to provide guidance
as to how to best manage
fodder stocks over the next
few months. Farmers can
also use DAERA’s fodder
calculators, which are
available online.
“The recent short spell of
good weather may have
allowed some farmers to
Test to improve liver fluke control
salvage fodder. However,
we still don’t know the full
extent of the problem across
the country. By attending
these meetings farmers
will get support to manage
fodder levels but also help
DAERA better understand
the situation,” added the UFU
The remaining meetings are:
Thursday, November 23,
7.30pm-10.30pm – CAFRE
Enniskillen Campus.
Tuesday, November 28,
7.30pm-10.30pm – Lodge
Hotel, Coleraine.
All farmers are welcome to
attend and no pre-booking is
new test to screen herds for liver fluke
has been developed, which could help
to reduce the risk of cattle developing
immunity to existing deworming treatments.
Cattle become infected with liver fluke
by eating grass contaminated with cysts
containing fluke eggs, shed from mud snails
found in damp, marshy areas of pasture.
Infection is very common and even low levels
can lead to serious losses in production. It
can extend time to slaughter and reduce milk
yield by up to 15 per cent. The wet weather
during late summer is likely to increase the
risk of liver fluke infection for cattle on many
farms this year.
The test involves the collection of faecal
samples from a number of cattle in the herd
which is then analysed by a lab and a single
count reported.
The new method was created as part of a
joint project involving AHDB and led by the
University of Liverpool with the Moredun
Research Institute.
Mary Vickers, AHDB Beef & Lamb Senior
Scientist, said: “Controlling liver fluke
is a difficult task, particularly because
of emerging resistance to some of the
flukicidal products used to treat cattle and
sheep. Looking to the future, reliance on
deworming treatments alone is likely to be
unsustainable so treatment informed by
diagnosis is crucial for disease control.”
The new testing method known as
‘composite faecal egg counting’ is suitable for
both dairy and beef cattle and allows herds
to be screened for infection, with targeted
treatment administered as required.
This composite test was found to be at least
as good as other diagnostic methods, such
as the copro-antigen ELISA, for identifying
infected herds. To save time testing in labs
in the future, the project team is working
to develop pen-side tests, which farmers
and vets can use to give diagnostic results
straight away, allowing immediate, targeted
The project was funded by a large multicentre grant from the Biotechnology and
Biological Sciences Research Council in
partnership with AHDB, Hybu Cyg Cymru
(HCC), Quality Meat Scotland (QMS) and
Agrisearch Northern Ireland to improve the
control of liver fluke infection in beef and
dairy cattle.
How to assess relative feed value
By Dr Eileen McCloskey and Dr Norman
Weatherup, Beef and Sheep Technologists,
CAFRE, Greenmount
HIS summer and autumn has seen
rainfall totals at least 30 per cent
above average each month since
July and 17-21 days with rain each
This prolonged unsettled weather has
resulted in many issues around harvesting
silage and cereal crops.
Grass growth has been reasonably good
but managing and utilising it has been more
problematic. The knock-on effects have been
early housing of some stock, a potential
shortage of fodder for some businesses,
poor quality silage with low dry matter and
metabolisable energy (ME) contents and
silages with soil contamination.
Therefore winter feed budgeting and
planning is critical. The initial step is to
assess fodder requirements, quantity and
q Know how much fodder is required to
carry all livestock groups through the winter;
q Calculate the amount of fodder available
on farm; and
q Have silage analysed to determine quality.
These figures can be calculated using the
DAERA silage calculators at the following link:
Ideally the majority of the diet on beef and
sheep farms will be provided by good quality
conserved forages. However if silage is of
poorer quality or there isn’t enough for the
winter, some additional feed will have to be
purchased. There are a range of feedstuffs
to substitute and/or complement what is
available and it is essential to ensure value
for money.
Purchasing fodder - points to consider:
q Round bales are highly variable
depending on the dry matter and density
of the bale. It may be difficult to obtain an
accurate weight or tonnage and hence final
price paid may be much more expensive
than expected.
q Silage also varies considerably in terms
Table 1. Relative feed values of
straights compared with dried
rolled barley at £185 / tonne and
soyabean meal at £310 / tonne.
Values based on rolled Barley at £185/
tonne and Soyabean at £310/tonne. These
prices were valid at time of printing.
of nutrient content and the price paid may
bear little reflection of its quality – water has
no nutritive value!
q There may be areas of spoilage in a bale
Table 2. Relative feed value of forages compared with dried rolled barley at
£185 / tonne and soyabean meal at £310 / tonne.
or clamp due to damage to the cover or wrap
and there may be losses at the face during
feedout. Hence tonnage actually consumed
by the animals may be significantly lower
than the tonnage purchased.
q It is therefore vital to weigh and analyse
purchased forage to avoid paying over the
odds for a poor quality feed.
Relative feed value of feedstuffs:
In some cases hay, silage or straw is simply
not available, irrespective of price and it will
be necessary to purchase a concentrate. A
wide range of feeds with differing nutrient
contents is available.
The relative feed value is a technique used
to establish whether a particular feed is
value for money compared to reference feeds
such as barley and soya.
It is based on the energy (ME) and protein
(CP) of the feed. The figure for each feed
indicates the highest price at which it will
be value for money relative to barley and
soya. Feedstuffs are good value if they can
be purchased at less than the price in Tables
1, above left, and 2, above.
The values have been calculated using
the DAERA relative feed/value programme,
other feeds stuffs not listed above can also
be calculated if energy (ME) and protein (CP)
values of the feed is known. The programme
can be accessed at the link below:
Key points to consider:
q Compare the price of compounds/
straights/roughages from several different
q Consider the use of value for money byproducts to replace a shortfall in roughage
q Ensure the concentrate purchased
complements the forage available
q Analysis of roughages should be carried
out before any rations are formulated
q Prioritise best quality forages to the most
productive stock such as dairy cows in peak
lactation, finishing cattle and pregnant ewes.
q Purchased straights, compounds and
forages must be selected based of relative
feed value to ensure value for money
q Restricting the amount of good quality
silage fed and increasing the amount of
concentrates will be more economical than
purchasing poor quality forages at high


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