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.

Grass growth rapidly increasing

The weekly milk from grass figures from Trouw Nutrition show that average grass growth rates have increased to 47 kg dry matter per ha/day, well above those seen during the first week of April last year. The regional averages vary considerably, from 52 kg in the South West to 39kg in Scotland. Trouw estimate that typical grazing should supply M+7.5 litres at the moment. A mild winter has meant that grass kept growing and is more mature, with a higher level of fibre than might be expected for the time of year (42% NDF). This is limiting potential milk from forage. Talk to Carrs Billington today if you would like your grass analysing. We have the complete package of dairy feeds and services to help cows with the transition from winter to summer feeding.

Selenium supplementation from Origin Fertilisers – simple and effective

Field trials at Newton Rigg College in summer 2016 showed that applying selenium in grassland fertiliser can be a simple and effective method of over-coming the very low levels of this essential micro-nutrient in Cumbrian forages.

Soils in Cumbria are inherently very low in available selenium which is reflected in grass and forage containing less than 20% of the dietary requirements for optimal animal health. Typically, forage contains 0.05mg Se per kg of dry matter, compared to the 0.3mg livestock need to avoid symptoms of selenium deficiency, including: white muscle disease, infertility, retained placentas, low weight gains and ill thrift.

Traditional methods of selenium supplementation involve direct treatment to the animal via boluses, injections, drenches or enriched feed or water. Although effective at protecting the animal from deficiency, these methods do not address the underlying problem of low selenium levels in the soil and forage, with the majority of nutrient ultimately exported off farm in milk, meat or wool.

The application of 21.0.14 + 5% SO3 + Selenium applied to silage at 300kg/ha in early June at Newton Rigg’s Mungrisdale upland farm raised the background forage selenium levels from severely deficient (0.05mg) to optimal (0.44mg). Selenium fertiliser had previously been used at the dairy unit at Sewborwens where the background level had a higher starting point of 0.21mg, reflecting the longer-term benefit of selenium fertilisation in increasing soil selenium staus. Paul Flynn of Newton Rigg commented: "The comparisons were clear with the selenium fertilisation increasing the forage selenium level from deficient into the optimal range."

The trial work used Origin Fertilisers ‘Seleni-Grass’ range of selenium-enriched grassland products. Origin’s Matthew Everett said: "The work at Newton Rigg is entirely consistent with similar trials from across the UK and Ireland with our ‘Seleni-Grass’ range. It is a simple, efficient method of supplementation and very cost-effective at 1.5 – 2.0p per head per day. We also offer cobalt and zinc fertiliser options in our grassland range."


Raw Material Market Update

The last month has seen relative stability in raw material markets and exchange rates. There are a few concerns about dryness in USA but no great disasters so far. World stocks of maize, wheat and soya are all very healthy; Australia has a record harvest and there are no weather worries in South America.

UK wheat futures have drifted lower in the last few days. High prices have put the brakes on exports and new crop wheat is trading £8-£10/t lower than old crop, so there is an incentive to sell existing stocks. This might reduce wheat prices during the summer. Wheat Futures MARCH 17Poor quality barley has been difficult to export so we have seen a £24-£27/t gap develop between wheat and barley prices. If you can source decent quality barley, it looks much better value for money than wheat before harvest 2017. Brazil is going to produce it’s first ever 100 million tonne soya crop this year and Argentina and Paraguay are also close to breaking records. The only negative is the exchange rate. If the pound was still at the level it was before the Brexit vote was announced ($1.55 against today’s $1.25), soya would be £50/t cheaper. ESoya Futures March 17U rapeseed supplies are low which has led to relatively low production rates of rape meal. Consequently, prices have risen and meal look expensive compared to biofuels distillers products. Soya and distillers look much better value for money this summer. However, once new crop rapeseed becomes available in late summer, meal prices come back into line. Overall most buyers will see a price increase this spring. High fibre diets will rise less than high cereal rations and use of barley rather than wheat, distillers and soya rather than rape meal will help. A good summer could see prices for next winter drop back again.

Carrs Billington Acquire Horse & Pet Ltd

Carrs Billington has entered into an agreement to acquire 100% of the share capital of Horse & Pet Ltd.

The purchase will be concluded shortly and the business based in Ayr will be incorporated into Carrs Billington and managed by Alan King.

This acquisition represents a further major step in the development of Carrs Billington and will significantly increase our turnover of Equine & Pet products.

We welcome our new colleagues and look forward to working with them and increasing sales in the west of Scotland trading area. We will retain our booth at the Ayr Auction Mart.

Carrs Billington Silage Competition

Congratulations to the winners of the 2016/17 Carrs Billington clamp silage competition; Harry, Margaret, David and Louise Hodgson of Wormanby Farm near Carlisle. Judge Anya Westland, Senior Lecturer and Lead Researcher (Agriculture) at Myerscough College, commented that the winners combined top quality forage with great attention to detail in making, storing and feeding their crop.Wormanby1

“The first cut analysed at 34% dry matter and an energy of 11.6 MJ/kg DM with excellent fermentation quality. The indoor pit was very clean with no evidence of waste or heating, there is a very good drainage system for effluent and the central feed passageway gives the cows excellent access to silage and is very easy to clean.”

Carrs Billington’s trading area was split into five regions. Silage samples from entrants in each region were scored for a range of factors including dry matter, energy, fermentation quality and acid loading by the ruminant technical team at Lancaster. The winning farms of each region were then visited by Anya to decide the overall winner. First prize was £1000 of Ecosyl products, 10 acres of Carrs Billington Mega Grass Leys supplied by Barenbrug and a bag of Origin Sweetgrass fertiliser.

Anya commented that the decision was very close, with little to choose between the five finalists.

North Cumbria. Messrs Hodgson, Wormanby

Lancashire and South Cumbria. Messrs Thornley, Derby Lodge

South West Scotland. Bryce Sloan, Ryemuir, Lochmaben

Yorkshire. David Mortimer, Valley Farm Northallerton

North East and Borders, Hugh Richardson, Wheelbirks Farm, Stocksfield.

The Hodgson family have been at Wormanby for 45 years, milking 170 Holsteins and rearing their own replacements. Between 120 and 130 acres are taken for first cut in mid May and wilted for between 24 and 48 hours, depending on the weather, to achieve at least 25% dry matter and avoid any effluent. Harry gives credit to contactor Graham Rae of Kirkpatrick Flemming, who has three contacting teams which does help find a cutting date to suit both parties.

Slurry is applied to silage ground as and when during the winter but David emphasizes that it is used as a fertiliser and not seen just a waste product to be got rid of! Origin 25/5/10 fertiliser is sown in the second week of March. In total, four cuts are usually taken, although 4th cut is reserved for youngstock. Reseeding with Mega Leys is done as and when needed, working in with maize and winter barley cropping.

Nutritionist Gareth Brolly adds “The Wormanby Holsteins currently have a rolling 12 month milk yield of over 10 000 litres per cow at 4.22% butterfat and 3.22% protein, around 2500 litres are produced from forage. A bespoke Carrs Billington blend and home produced barley are fed down the trough and FX18 balanced energy dairy cake given in the parlour to complement the high quality grass and maize silage.”

Duncan Rose, Carrs Billington Chief Nutritionist comments, “Firstly, I would like to say thank you to Origin, Barenbrug, Ecosyl and Visqueen for their sponsorship and support of this competition. The quality of all winning entries was exceptional in a year when silage quality has been variable at best, with average results between 0.3 and 0.5MJ/kg dry matter below last year. Sugar levels have been noticeably lower than last year through a number of factors. Some 1st cut grass had grown all winter due to mild conditions and this made poorer silage. Poor weather delayed second cuts by 2- 3 weeks and both third and fourth cuts have generally been very low in energy, despite a high protein content.

What makes the winners stand out is not one factor but a number. They usually cut grass at an earlier stage of growth than many, use a silage additive, fill the pit quickly, roll and consolidate well, sheet up effectively and tend to use a shear grab when feeding out. What is not surprising is that they do it consistently year after year and tend to always be the best silage makers. It is not luck!”

Congratulations also go to the winning big bale entry, produced by the Hall family of Moor End Farm, Nether Kellet. Nick and Colin used to make clamp silage but changed to big bales when the chance came to acquire a baler from a local contractor. The big benefit is the ability to make silage when the weather and grass conditions are at their best rather than having to wait until a contractor can come. Baling offers more flexibility to balance grass growth patterns and the needs of grazing cattle.

The McHale Fusion baler combines both wrapping and baling in one machine, simplifying the operation. Use of Visqueen Baletite film as a replacement for net wrap has also proved successful. Recent research has shown that using Baletite, instead of film on wrap, leads to improvements in silage quality.

The winning entry analysed at 36% dry matter and an energy level of 11.3 ME. First prize was £500 of Visqueen Polycrop plastic bale wrap and a bag of Origin Sweetgrass fertiliser.

All regional winners received £100 vouchers for their local Carrs Billington Country Store.

New NVZ Areas.

DEFRA update the Nitrate Vulnerable Zones every 4 years and details of the new proposed zones have just been released.

Around 58% of England is in a NVZ, under the new proposals some areas have been taken out of the zones but some new areas have been added. DEFRA are now writing to farmers notifying them if any of their land falls into a NVZ.

If you want to appeal against the decision you only have 28 days to do so. The only two grounds for appeal are 1) the land does not drain into “polluted water” or 2) that it drains into water which is wrongly described as polluted.

Maps are to be found on the Environment Agency website.

Brand New Fuel Office Opened in time for New Year

Carrs Billington at Hexham has a brand new fuel office after their old one was flooded during Storm Desmond.

In addition to the new fuel office, Carrs has expanded the range in its country store on the Tyne Mills Industrial Estate in a bid to appeal more to the general public.

Branch manager Mark Tasker-Brown, who looks after eight country stores in West Northumberland and Scotland, said: “We have increased our product range with wild bird food, equine supplies, pet food, lawnmowers and country clothing. We are trying to encourage the general public to shop here as well as farmers.

“In the past I think we’ve been seen as predominantly a machinery depot for the agricultural community but obviously we are more than that and we would like to increase that awareness.”

New signage on Hexham Bridge directing people to the country store has already led to increased footfall says store supervisor Willie Reay.

“It’s had an effect already, we’ve definitely had more people through the doors since the signs went up and some people have said, ‘We’ve lived here 30 years and not realised this was here.”

Mr Tasker-Brown praised staff for how they had dealt with last year’s floods, particularly the fuel office, which still managed to get deliveries out.

“We had about a foot of water right through the fuel office. Now we have a purpose-built office which is raised more than two feet off the ground so that next time, we would be above the level of the water.”

Helen Buckton said: “It’s luxury now considering we were in that green container. Now we have windows, a kitchen for the drivers and a shower and toilet.”

To order fuel phone: 01434 600404

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