Product Spotlight – Nature’s Bounty, Chicken & Sweet Potato


We are proud to present our brand-new range of dog food which is flying off the shelves in our Country stores. The Chicken & Sweet Potato is just one of the seven flavours and types in the great Nature’s Bounty range.

Our delicious Chicken and Sweet Potato recipe is completely grain free and provides a high-quality protein source for easy digestion. Why grain free you ask? Well, our canine companions are naturally meat eaters and although their shapes, styles and temperament has changed dramatically since they were wild, their teeth and digestion system have remained much the same. Typically, their digestion system struggles with large proportions of cereals and continuous exposure to a high cereal diet has been associated with health issues such as allergies, obesity and behavioural problems.

Sweet potato is a unique vegetable as it is very low in starch compared to a traditional potato, has lots of vitamins and minerals and studies have found it can stabilise blood sugar levels. Combining this with fresh chicken and chicken meal ensures your dog is getting what it needs the simplest ingredients. Less time and energy digesting allow more time and energy for being a dog!

If you suspect your dog may have allergies/ intolerances or you have a very fussy dog, then pop into your local branch to get more in depth advice on how you may be able to combat this with the correct nutrition.

If you are changing your dog’s food, we recommend gradually introducing the new recipe over an 8 to 10-day period and within 6 weeks you should be able to see a difference. Don’t forget to consider not just the dogs’ food, but also his treats, as they can also contain large proportion of cereals and may impact the health of the dog and hamper the impact of a need grain-free food.

To see the complete range of Nature’s Bounty pop into a Carrs Billington Country Store today.


New Grass Seed Mixture – Mega Vigour 19

Brand new to the Carrs Billington range of grass seeds we bring you Mega Vigour 19.

  • Ideal for a 3 – 5 year forage break in an arable rotation to boost organic matter and soil ‘life’.
  • Flexible mixture that can be utilised by dairy, beef or sheep enterprises.
  • Available without clover for straightforward weed control however white clover can be added to gain from nitrogen fixation, protein increases and improved intakes, particularly where there is more emphasis on grazing.
  • The mixture has a 5 day heading date pattern meaning crops are uniform in their growth habit.
  • Grown down to 5-6OC soil temperature for extra spring and autumn yield.
  • Includes perennial ryegrass for persistency and ground cover.
  • All varieties yield 102% of control or above.
  • Seagoe and Boyne display massive first cut yields.
  • All varieties display a crown rust resistance score of 7.9 or over.
  • All varieties RGCL 2018/2019 recommended.

Mega Vigour 19 can be stitched in after those first cuts are removed to increase grass yields in the future.

A high input, high output mixture for intensive silage production with the option to graze.

  • Intensive cutting, up to four cuts per year with the option to graze
  • Designed for medium term rotations looking for 3 – 5 years of grass
  • Available clover free or with Ensign white clover blend

Mega Vigour 19 delivers you:

  • Hybrid ryegrasses grow to 5-6°C soil temperature and so will extend the growing season. Up to four cuts of high quality forage can be achieved or a mix of cutting and grazing throughout the season.
  • Yielding around 10% more than long term leys, Mega Vigour 19 can persist up to 5 years.

Where Mega Vigour 19 works:

Designed for those in a medium term rotation looking to maximise silage production with the option to graze when required. Designed for a first cut in Mid May. Extended shoulder growth suits growers able to utilise shoulder growth effectively through early grazing or silage.

For more information contact the Carrs Billington Forage Line on 0800 234416 or contact our Alex Law, Grass Seed Specialist on 07860 784904

The Science behind Horslyx Pro Digest Balancer

Keeping a horse healthy inside and out is a key concern for all horse owners. Bumps and knocks in the field or stable environment are inevitable, however maintaining a healthy digestive system can be more challenging as symptoms can range from acute to chronic.

Horses in the wild adapt their grazing behaviour based on many factors but spend up to 70% of their time eating1. Small, frequent meals encourage unhindered passage of feed through the equine digestive tract, primarily due to the production of saliva which is only produced during chewing2. Saliva has 2 main functions: lubrication of ingested feed and buffering of stomach acid. Horses consuming forages produce around twice the volume of saliva compared to those consuming cereals (440 vs 206 g saliva/100 g DM intake respectively)3. Therefore, horses consuming diets containing a higher proportion of forage will naturally produce more saliva and hence increase the buffering properties of the ingested feed.

Horses continually produce stomach acid4 irrespective of feed being present in the stomach. It has also been shown that horses consuming cereals or pelletized feeds produce more stomach acid than those offered solely forage due to increased production of the hormone gastrin5. In addition, modern management practises such as infrequent feeding of large meals containing cereals and starch, lack of natural movement such as stabling and more intensive exercise regimes can lead to a poorly buffered, acidic stomach environment which can increase the risk of gastric ulceration6.

Simple carbohydrates within the diet such as sugars are enzymatically broken down and absorbed, as glucose, across the small intestine wall into the blood stream7. Digestion of starch within the small intestine is slow and limited due to the low activity of pancreatic amylase, which can lead to the potential of overspill of starch into the hindgut8 if too much starch is fed in a single feed. The hindgut has evolved to ferment and breakdown the complex carbohydrates found in forages, commonly referred to as fibre, and relies on enzymes, produced and released by bacteria into the hind gut, to breakdown the fibre and produce volatile fatty acids which are a very important source of energy for the horse9. Additionally, in the healthy horse the hindgut is the site of B vitamin production and absorption10. Overspill of starch into the hindgut alters the balance of bacterial communities, stimulating lactic acid producers which convert starch to lactic acid which can rapidly drop the pH within the hindgut11. A reduction in hindgut pH (hindgut acidosis) causes death of beneficial bacteria which are responsible for fibre breakdown leading to a variety of digestive upsets including colic 12.

Horslyx Pro Digest Balancer has been formulated with the above in mind. Horslyx Pro Digest Balancer contains mucilage in the form of slippery elm13 and seaweed meal14. Mucilage is a soluble fibre that absorbs water within the gastrointestinal tract15 and can form a soothing barrier between the intestinal tract wall and transient feed16.

Additionally, Horslyx Pro Digest Balancers contain both prebiotics and probiotics. Prebiotics are not digested by mammalian enzymes and pass through the gastrointestinal tract where they can affect bacteria. The prebiotic is rich in MOS (Mannan-oligosaccharides) and beta glucans which are derived from yeast. It has been shown that incorporation of MOS has health benefits in horses by increasing immune function17. Additionally, pathogenic bacteria are fooled into binding to MOS, in the digesta, rather than the gut cell walls due to the similar surface carbohydrates found on both the MOS and gut cell walls18. Beta glucans can also affect immune function as macrophages, white blood cells, have a specific beta glucan receptor which when combined stimulate immune responses to pathogenic bacteria19.

Probiotics are live yeasts and are registered and classified as feed additives by The European Feed Safety Authority. Live yeasts are either digestibility enhancers or gut flora stabilisers. The live yeast within Horslyx Pro Digest Balancer is Actisaf and it is a registered digestibility enhancer. Live yeasts enhance fibre digestibility within the colon and modulate the balance of hindgut bacterial communities reducing the risk of acidosis20.

Horslyx Pro Digest Balancer also includes the comprehensive vitamin, mineral and trace element package and oils ensuring your horse looks good as well as receiving the benefits of maintaining a healthy digestive system.


1Gudmundsson, O., & Dyrmundsson, O.R. (1994). Horse grazing under cold and wet conditions: a review. Livestock Production Science, 40(1), 57–63.

2Alexander, F. (1966). A study of paratoid salivation in the horse. Journal of Physiology, 184, 646-656.

3Meyer, H., Coenen, M. and Gurer, C. (1985). Investigations of saliva production and chewing in horses fed various feeds. In Proceedings of the 9th ENPS, East Lansing, Mi, 38-41.

4F.M. Andrews, B.R. Buchanan, S.B. Elliot, N.A. Clariday and L.H. Edwards (2005). Gastric ulcers in horses. Journal of Animal Science, 83, E18-E21.

5Smyth, G. B., Young, D.W. and Hammond, L.S. (1988). Effects of diet and feeding on post-prandial serum gastrin and insulin concentrations in adult horses. Equine Veterinary Journal, Supplement 7, 56-59.

6Davidson, N. and Harris, P. (2002). Nutrition and welfare. In: The Welfare of Horses, N. Waran ed, Kluwer Academic, Dordrecht. pp 45-76.

7Geor, R.J. and Harris, P.A. (2007). How to minimize gastrointestinal disease associated with carbohydrate nutrition in horses. Proceedings of the American Association of Equine Practitioners, 53, 178-185.

8Cuddeford, D. (2001). Starch digestion in the horse. In Geor, R.J. and Pagan, J.D. eds, Advances in Equine Nutrition II, Nottingham University Press. 95-103.

9Hintz, H.F., Schryver, H.F. and Stevens, C.E. (1978). Digestion and Absorption in the Hindgut of Nonruminant Herbivores. Journal of Animal Science, 46, 1803–1807.

10Carroll, F.D., Goss, H. and Howell, C.E. (1949). The Synthesis of B Vitamins in the Horse. Journal of Animal Science, 8, 290–299.

Major topper helps train farmers of the future


Students training for a career in agriculture at Askham Bryan and Newton Rigg College benefit from plenty of practical experience with the tools of the trade, whether in supervised operation or when carrying out farm duties as part of their course.

Machinery used on the college farm has to be safe, robust and easy to use, and a new Major Cyclone is ticking all these boxes.

“We have four farms across the two sites, including a new £2m dairy unit for the 240-cow herd,” explains Head of Farms Matt Bagley. “They offer students hands-on experience of a commercial herd; milk yields average 11,300 litres and we rear our own replacements.”

The Major Cyclone topper is used across all of the farms, including on the hill farm where a HLS agreement means that rushes have to be tackled later in the season, when there is plenty of growth.

Game cover crops are cut to tidy them up ahead of the autumn, and the Cyclone also does general topping duty on permanent pasture.

Chopping maize stubbles is an increasingly important task on farms ahead of incorporation, and the Cyclone had an extra task on the maize ground last autumn as Mr Bagley explains:

“Some of the maize had gone down in the wind and the rain, so we needed to mulch it, and the Cyclone did a great job.”

He adds that he can rely on the Cyclone to tackle every job put to it with ease.

“It has to be robust, not just because of the workload, but also to cope with multiple operators, and also straightforward for the students to use.”

Mr Bagley explains that local dealer Carrs Billington suggested trying the Major Cyclone mower and he was immediately impressed:

“We’ve had other pieces of Major equipment in the past, and the range has the reputation for being good quality and reliable. It’s not the cheapest, but I liked the design – each rotor is driven by its own gearbox, which spreads the load.”

The 2.8m working width gives plenty of capacity while remaining within the tractor width for safe road transport. Mr Bagley adds: “We can run the pto at 1000rpm which gives a high tip speed for a quality finish in heavy growth, but equally it’s a machine you can use in conditions where you wouldn’t want to run a mower, such as for mulching maize stubbles.”

Cut height remains in the middle setting, which works well for the tasks in hand, and he reports that operators have not experienced any blockages or other issues.

“In heavy going, they have triggered the shearbolts a couple of times, and it’s good for them to know that such safety features work!”

With a range of tractors at the farm’s disposal, the Cyclone is usually pulled by a New Holland T6 or MF6716, and Mr Bagley comments that while the 140hp is more than adequate, the ability to run at 1000rpm ECO saves fuel.

It’s early days for the Cyclone, which was delivered in summer 2018, so Mr Bagley has had no cause to call on Carrs Billington for parts, but praises their service in supplying and setting up the mower.

“We’ve had great results with the Major Cyclone so far, and it’s a good piece of machinery for students to learn about the benefits of using quality, well-designed equipment.”


For more information on Major Cyclone mowers contact your Carrs Billington machinery depots at Annan, Barnard Castle, Carlisle, Hexham, Morpeth and Penrith.


Thomas Edmondson Cup goes to Borrowdale

Shown here is Stanley Jackson of the Langstrath Flock, winner of the prestigious Thomas Edmondson Cup for the Best Shearling Tup, receiving the trophy from Rae Thomlinson, Managing Director at Carrs Billington Agriculture.

The Cup was first awarded in 1928 by the Penrith based agricultural chemists, Thomas Edmonson. They later were acquired by Carrs Agriculture, now Carrs Billington Agriculture, but the cup is still awarded at the annual Keswick May Ram Fair.


Thanks to David Stephenson for use of the picture.