12th December 2019 - Page 42



42 FARM WEEK
FARMFAMILY
NOVEMBER 23 2017
FUTURE IN THEIR HANDS
L
AWSON and Jenny Burnett
with lamb triplets born on their
father’s farm at Richhill.
FEMININE FARMVIEW introduces . . .
Mrs Susan McKenna
A
Co Tyrone woman
who has been actively
concerned with
farming all her life regards
the drift from the land
by the younger people
coupled with what she calls
“the squeezing out of the
small man” as the saddest
– and most disappointing –
features of the agricultural
scene as she sees it.
Mrs Susan McKenna,
widow of Mr James
McKenna, Fairview,
Clougher, told FarmWeek:
“Agriculture as it was
known even 25 years ago
has changed in many ways
for the better but surely the
disappearance of cropping
has eliminated the genuine
farmer while the very tough
struggle now necessary
to win a living from small
holdings is an indication
that there is something
wrong somewhere.”
The McKenna holding
was formerly run along
traditional mixed lines but
now beef production
from bought-in stores
is the main line with a
30-year allegiance to
an annual turkey flock
maintained to the
present day.
“Competition from
bigger units has
slashed the poultry
flock,” said Mrs
McKenna, “but I have
managed to maintain
my turkeys over the
years although profits
in recent seasons are
getting slimmer and
slimmer.
“Formerly the birds
were hatched with
our own hens but now the
day-old market makes the
business simpler. However,
the flock is still reared on
free range.
“Experience has taught
me that the birds feather
better and are generally
healthier on free range
compared with those
reared intensively.”
Regaining a life-long
interest in embroidery
and crochet, Mrs McKenna
would like to see a revival
of the traditional Irish skills
at handicraft “formerly
known throughout the
world”.
One of her two sons has
remained on the farm and
the two daughters in the
family are married.
FARMERS ARE ASKED TO HELP
A
N appeal to farmers,
particularly those in the
coastal areas of County
Down and County Antrim,
to house their stock to
try to prevent the introduction of
foot-and-mouth disease by seabirds
has been made by the Minister of
Agriculture, Major J D ChichesterClark.
Speaking at a tree planting in
County Armagh, the Minister said
he could not over emphasise how
critical the position was, and he
appealed to every farmer to cooperate at this time.
In the present circumstances,
he said, with the disease so
widespread in the North-West of
Britain, foot-and-mouth could be
spread by wild birds.
“It would therefore be prudent,”
A
he said, “for our stock owners,
particularly those in the coastal
areas of County Down and County
Antrim to keep their stock housed
to the maximum degree it is
practicable.
“It sometimes takes only one
spark to start a fire.”
Mr Edwin Conn, the Ministry’s
chief veterinary officer who
returned last week from England
where he had discussions with
senior officials of the English
Ministry, has advised farmers and
representatives of commercial
firms not to attend this year’s
Smithfield Show.
“I would say that even I
underestimated just how serious
the position is,” said Mr Conn. “I
talked to people who have had
40 years’ experience of foot-
REVOLUTIONARY new method
of beef production from cattle
housed all the year round and
fed silage from shortly after birth
is to be put on trial at Greenmount
Agricultural College, Muckamore, next
year.
Already a number of aspects of the
system are under test at the college,
and Dr M Brown, the man who is
pioneering this approach to beef
production, in association with Mr T A
Stewart, a member of the experimental
staff at the college, is hopeful that
it will result in a return from beef
production high enough to justify
expenditure on buildings and much
higher than under traditional beef
production systems.
The key to Dr Brown’s (pictured)
LEFT: The precautions being taken
against an outbreak of foot-andmouth disease in Northern Ireland are
reflected in this scene at the entrance
to the Loughgall Research Centre.
and-mouth and they can never
remember an outbreak that spread
so rapidly.
“I would advise anyone who
might be remotely in touch with
people across the water, such as at
Smithfield Show, not to go unless it
is vital.”
The Northern Ireland Seed
Potato Board has cancelled its
potato exhibit at Smithfield and
the Ministry’s intended exhibit of
All-year silage for beef
system is the fact that under
traditional grazing and grass
conserving methods up to 40 per cent
of the grass production is wasted. By
cutting this wastage by half he hopes
to be able to stock at the equivalent
of over two bullocks to the acre with
the only supplementary feeding being
around two lbs of straight barley per
head per day.
“I must emphasis that this is not a
zero grazing system,” said Dr Brown,
“nor is it barley beef”.
“The whole aim and object of the
system is to increase the output of
beef per acre enough to justify the
expenditure on buildings.
“We decided to make a break
with tradition and see if we can
devise a system which would allow
beef production to compete more
favourably with other farming
enterprises.
“Under a grazing system the
utilisation of grass, especially by
younger stock, is very disappointing,
but we decided against zero grazing
because it is a seven day a week job
and has a high labour requirement.”
The method to be used by Dr Brown
will involve the cutting of grass at the
grazing stage and making it into silage
which will then be fed on a “bench”
system.
Stormont Zephyr grass-seed will
not now be shown.
Ministry officials have already
been advised not to attend the
cross-Channel shows and with the
continued spread of the disease
in Britain the Ministry has made
orders prohibiting the import
of vehicles, trailers, crates and
containers which have at any time
been used for the transport of live
animals in Great Britain, except
under licence.
Under this system a seven to eight
cwt block of silage is cut out and lifted
by a tractor equipped with front-end
loader and placed on an open trough
separated from the fattening house by
a tombstone barrier.
In theory the cattle should feed from
the top of the block of silage down and
it is hoped that the block should be
sufficient to last for up to a week.
The ‘bench’ feeding system which
is being tried out on a batch of 20
animals is being further adapted so
that the barley is fed not in a separate
trough but simply along the top of
the silage. It was devised in order to
cut down the capital cost of a silage
feeding set up by eliminating the need
for a concrete apron in front of the
silage face and a roof over the silo.

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