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New Franchise – Weidemann Telehandlers

Carrs Billington are proud to announce the addition of a new franchise to the machinery division, Weidemann Telehandlers. Weidemann products are synonymous for compact Hoftracs, wheel loaders and telehandlers in the agriculture and the equine industry, forestry and wood industries, municipalities, nurseries, biogas plants as well as various areas in industry and commercial enterprises.Weidemann machinery have great levels of functionality, working comfort, power & endurance, ensuring the right solution for each task. For demonstrations and information contact your local machinery depot. Weidemann machinery have great levels of functionality, working comfort, power & endurance, ensuring the right solution for each task. For demonstrations and information contact your local machinery depot.

Heat Stress in Dairy Cows

Given the record high temperatures recently, it’s no surprise that animals are struggling to cope with the heat as well as ourselves.  Temperatures have been climbing again, and we may still have the hotter conditions in July and August.  Heat stress may be something that will become more common in the UK with hotter summers as a result of global warming.  There is also now a greater proportion of the UK dairy herd being housed all year round in sub-optimal buildings.  Breeding also plays a part with today’s dairy cows being bred for higher production which results in higher metabolic rates that generates more heat.  Cows in the UK are also not acclimatised to high temperatures and humidity as those in hotter countries.

Heat stress affects the metabolic and immune system of dairy cows when the core body temperature is raised above its normal range.  It is the result of high temperatures coupled with high relative humidity.  We can monitor if cows are likely to be at risk by measuring the temperature and relative humidity to get a Temperature Humidity Index (THI).  Heat Stress is believed to occur when a THI of 72 is reached.  This is when cows are unable to dissipate heat quickly enough to keep the core body temperature down.

Visual signs that a cow is suffering from heat stress include; panting, standing for longer periods, sweating, diet sorting and decreased frequency of eating.  These factors then result in depressed feed intakes which in turn means that the cow is not able to consume enough nutrients to meet her energy and protein requirements.  Saliva production is also suppressed, reducing the buffering capacity to lower rumen pH.  In terms of performance, this could result in lower milk yields, poorer display of heat, loss of embryos and a compromised uterine environment.

So how can we tackle heat stress?  This can be split in to two categories – environment & management or nutrition.

Environment & Management

  • provide shade for cows grazing outdoors
  • for housed cows – ensure adequate air flow, either through building modification or installing fans.
  • avoid overcrowding in collecting yards.
  • hosing down individual cows that are in a critical state of distress.

 

Nutrition

  • Water! Ensure adequate availability and cleanliness.  Cows drink between 10 – 20% more in hot weather.
  • Increase the nutrient density of the diet to compensate for the lower dry matter intakes.  If increasing concentrate inclusion, be careful of acidosis.
  • Reduce the fibre content – digestion of fibre creates more heat than concentrates.  *However, a minimum level of high quality fibre in the diet is still essential.
  • Increase the by-pass protein content of the diet, as rumen function may be impaired.
  • Review the mineral content of the diet.  Cows will lose more minerals when drooling and sweating - sodium in particular.
  • Feeding rumen enhancers, such as Actisaf live yeast, Carrs Billington’s TechTonic, AcidBuf or sodium bicarbonate.  These will all help maintain healthy rumen function.
 

Lowri Davies
Ruminant Technical Specialist

Grass growth remains below last year

The latest data from Trouw International show that, thanks to recent rainfall, average GB grass growth did increase last week from 46kg DM/ha/day to 53. However, it remains below last year. Within our trading area the range in growth rates is from 62kg in Scotland to 49 in Yorkshire. The average milk from grass is 12.4 litres, both energy and protein content have lifted as grassland responds to fertiliser washed in by the rain. Typical analysis is 11.8ME, 25% crude protein and 17% dry matter, although as usual there was a wide range and we would recommend contacting your local Carrs Billington nutritionist to take a sample of your grazing paddocks.

Protect your cows from heat stress this Summer

Grass growth falls but potential milk from forage rises.

The average GB grass growth rates, produced by Trouw Nutrition, fell to 59kg DM/ha/day last week. This is 10kg down on the previous week and is below the same time last year. Scotland and North West England saw growth rates of 67/68kg DM/ha/day and Yorkshire 54kg.

On the plus side, high temperatures increased the average dry matter of grass back up to 19%, which will have improved potential intakes. With a typical energy content of 11.8 ME this means, on average, grazing could support M + 14 litres although in many places this potential will have been offset by very high temperatures leading to heat stress in cows and reducing forage intakes.

Reasonable levels of fibre in grass and a low acid loading have reduced the risk of low butterfats but, as above, this will have been offset by potential heat stress.

In the USA and Canada, cows are housed to help protect them from heat stress in summer, the barns are equipped with fans which come on at 68 degrees F (20 degrees C) and many have water sprinklers in the feed passages which come on at 72 F (22 degrees C) Last week there will have been many cows in GB grazing outdoors in temperatures of 86 F (30 degrees C). I must emphasise that we are not saying cows should be kept indoors, just that when grazed outdoors in high temperatures, shade and good access to water are very important for cow health and welfare as well as production.

Grass growth falls but potential milk from forage rises

The average GB grass growth rates, produced by Trouw Nutrition, fell to 59kg DM/ha/day last week. This is 10kg down on the previous week and is below the same time last year. Scotland and North West England saw growth rates of 67/68kg DM/ha/day and Yorkshire 54kg. On the plus side, high temperatures increased the average dry matter of grass back up to 19%, which will have improved potential intakes. With a typical energy content of 11.8 ME this means, on average, grazing could support M + 14 litres although in many places this potential will have been offset by very high temperatures leading to heat stress in cows and reducing forage intakes. Reasonable levels of fibre in grass and a low acid loading have reduced the risk of low butterfats but, as above, this will have been offset by potential heat stress. In the USA and Canada, cows are housed to help protect them from heat stress in summer, the barns are equipped with fans which come on at 68 degrees F (20 degrees C) and many have water sprinklers in the feed passages which come on at 72 F (22 degrees C) Last week there will have been many cows in GB grazing outdoors in temperatures of 86 F (30 degrees C). I must emphasise that we are not saying cows should be kept indoors, just that when grazed outdoors in high temperatures, shade and good access to water are very important for cow health and welfare as well as production.

Raw Material Market Update

A year ago, the EU Referendum result caused UK exchange rates to fall by more than 10% so it was perhaps a surprise that the hung Parliament result of the General Election ‘only’ saw a further drop of 3-4% and that seems to be recovering as Brexit negotiations get underway. Still, even that modest drop puts £7-10 on the price of soya meal.

Lack of rain is an issue in some wheat growing parts of the USA and dryness in Australia is cutting their export surplus. Heat and low rainfall in Spain and Portugal could mean they are looking to import more wheat next winter – traditional markets for UK wheat exports. The UK, fortunately, has had some rain now but wheat prices have still hardened by around £4-£5/t. Whether this is sustainable when, despite the issues outlined above, world wheat stocks are predicted to rise for the 5th consecutive year remains to be seen. Strong demand for wheat in the north from the biofuels industry is a contributing factor inside our trading area.

World soya prices have been steady recently. Rape meal remains expensive compared to distillers grains and sunflower; prices should fall when the new oilseed crop is processed but until then other proteins are better value for money.

The GB sugar beet harvest is predicted to be better this year and prices for beet pulp are reducing; however, soya hulls and palm kernel still look better buys at the moment. Palm fat prices are falling as increased supplies become available but they should reduce further and it could be worth waiting if considering buying fat products in any quantity.

Overall, it looks like little change in feed prices over the next few months.

Protect your cows and milk quality

Good milk yields from grass possible but beware of low butterfats and heat stress.

The latest weekly figures from Trouw Nutrition show that grass growth increased to 78kg DM/ha/day last week. This was 20kg more than the previous week but still running below the same time last year. Highest average growth rates were seen in Scotland at 86kg, the lowest in Yorkshire at 62 kg DM/ha.

Average energy levels were 11.95 ME, crude protein 23% and dry matter 17.6%, giving a potential milk from forage of M + 13.8 litres. As usual there is huge variation between individual farms, ask your local Carrs Billington nutritionist to test your grazing.

Grass analysis also shows a high acid loading and low fibre index, increasing the risk of low butterfats.

Recent very high temperatures and humidity mean a greatly increased risk of heat stress in dairy cows, especially high yielding ones. A good water supply is vital and ensure cows have access to shade. During times of heat stress, a cow’s appetite decreases and forage intakes in particular, this puts even more pressure on butterfats and increases the risk of acidosis.

Our range of high digestible fibre cakes and blends containing TechTonic rumen conditioner and Actisaf yeast will help to both reduce the risk of acidosis and low butterfats.

Protect your cows and milk quality today with Carrs Billington.

Raw Material Market Update

Politics is having an impact on raw material costs at the moment. The problems of President Trump have weakened the dollar so that the pound rose to $1.30 last week, the first time since last September. If sustained this will help reduce the costs of imports.

Meanwhile, in Brazil, the president has been involved in bribery claims leading to an 8% drop in the value of the Brazilian Real. Soya traded in Chicago dropped $8/t in response; the question now is, will US soya meal futures fall below $300/t?

Soya ex Liverpool for the rest of the summer and next winter is at its lowest price so far and looks good value, as do distillers grains from the biofuels industry. In contrast, rape meal looks expensive. Relatively little is being crushed at the moment and new crop will need to drop in price for the autumn to be competitive. If you are looking to buy DUP, AminoMax protected soya represents the best value per unit of Digestible Undegradable Protein.

Sugar beet looks like a luxury buy at the moment; both soya hulls and palm kernel provide much better value for money. Palm fat products such as Butterfat Extra and Megalac are starting to fall in price so just buy what you need for now.

Old crop wheat and barley continue to trade at around £160 and high £130s/t delivered. New crop wheat is currently only £10/t cheaper than old crop which limits the scope for price drops later in the summer. A good harvest would help bring forward prices down so the recent rain across the UK and W Europe has been very welcome after a very dry April.

Grass growth slows but milk from grass rises

Average grass growth rates, as reported by Trouw Nutrition, slowed down to 54kg DM/ha/day last week. This is 26kg less than the same week last year. There was quite a range across GB, with the best average growth rates seen in Scotland at 59kg and the lowest in Yorkshire at 44kg. Warmer temperatures and rain this week should improve growth significantly. The average milk yield from grazing has risen to 14.5 litres/cow/day, well above last year’s figure of 11.6 litres. Most farms still have plenty of grass to offer the cows, despite growth rates slowing recently, and grass analysis is showing relatively high dry matters and energy content which will help both intakes and yield. Average dry matter was 20%, although the range varied from 13% to 40%! Typical protein content was 21% and energy 12.3 MJ/kg DM. Some farmers are reporting big drops in butterfat, particularly when turned onto grazing paddocks for the second time. Ask is about ButterMax 16 dairy cake to help with the butterfat content of your milk.

Consider taking 1st cut silage early this year

“Consider taking 1st cut silage early this year,” says Duncan Rose of Carrs Billington. Grass growth has been well ahead of average this spring and, in some weeks, growth was measured at double the rate of last year. Despite the cold snap last week, we would recommend that many farmers consider taking their first cut sooner than they may be typically thinking. I have walked over many grass fields in the North West of England during the last week and have been surprised at how advanced some silage crops are. One customer near Preston has already cut new seeds that were sown after a maize crop last autumn and one North Cumbrian dairy farmer has cut Italian rye grass for silage. Another Preston farm I visited last week already had cutting grass at the four leaf stage and they will cut two weeks sooner than usual at the end of this week. A Cheshire client, who grazed some fields down to 1600kg DM/ha at the end of February will silage these same fields next week. His grass has grown 1.75 times quicker this spring than last year. Every farm is different but it is important to be alert to the fact that it could be a very early cutting year and you may need to phone your contractor soon! Good quality, high D Value first cut silage is vital for good milk yields and lower bought in feed costs next winter.