Carr’s Billington Joins Forces with industry to Help Bust GHG Myths 

We have joined forced with the Royal Association of British Dairy Farmers (RABDF) and other industry stakeholders to help highlight accurate facts about greenhouse gas emissions from the sector ahead of the UN Climate Change Conference (COP26) in Glasgow at the end of October (31st Oct).

The aim is to help inform everyone of the actual levels of greenhouse gas contributions coming from the dairy industry and dispel many of the current myths. Therefore, the sector asks individuals, key industry stakeholders, businesses, and organisations to promote five key facts internally and to the broader public before, during, and after COP26.

It is anticipated UK agriculture will come under the spotlight at COP26, which is why it is important to shout about the good work the dairy industry is doing to reduce emissions from what is already quite a low level.

<Insert name> from <insert organisation> said: “If everyone can share just one fact on social media, in their company newsletter, to a friend or in a conversation, for example, then that is at least one extra person that is better informed about emissions from the dairy industry.”

The facts being highlighted include:

  1. UK Dairy farming is responsible for less than 3% of the UK’s total emissions.
  2. 46% – Almost half of the emissions coming from the dairy cow is from their digestion- a perfectly natural process of ruminants.
  3. It takes 8 litres of tap water to produce 1 litre of milk or 158 litres of tap water to produce 1 litre of almond drink.
  4. The carbon footprint of a litre of British milk is around 1.25kg CO2e compared to a global average of 2.9kg CO2e per litre.
  5. UK dairy cows are some of the most climate friendly in the world. There are 278 million dairy cows worldwide. If they were all as efficient as UK dairy cows, we WOULD ONLY NEED AROUND 76 MILLION of them to produce the same amount of milk.

The RABDF has produced draft social media posts, newsletter snippets, visuals and posters that are free to copy and paste from their website at rabdf.co.uk/emissions.

RABDF Managing Director Matt Knight said: “We want to make it as easy as possible for people to spread the good work of the dairy industry and reinforce the fact dairy products aren’t only good for human health, they are also good for the planet too.”

For your free visuals, social media posts and more on greenhouse gas emissions from the dairy sector, please visit www.rabdf.co.uk/emissions

Boost calf daily live weight gain this summer with ad-lib feeding

Dairy farmers are being advised to consider ad-lib feeding this summer to boost dairy heifer calf growth and lifetime yield potential.

According to Clare Lawson, our Calf and Youngstock Product Manager, up to 1kg of daily live weight gain (DLWG) can be achieved using this type of feeding system when birth weights are at least 35kg.

“When calves feed naturally on the cow, they typically drink between 11 and 15 litres per day. Ad-lib mimics this instinct and can often lead to better growth rates than in a restrictive system.

“There’s also the added benefit that calves are fully weaned off milk on average four days earlier on ad-lib systems meaning feeding costs can be reduced.”

There is evidence to suggest that if calves achieve an extra 0.2kg DLWG in the first eight weeks, it can result in 500 extra kilos of milk in their first lactation.

“Therefore, if you are able to go above this and achieve up to 1kg of DLWG, this could pay dividends once these cows reach the milking herd,” she adds.

To optimise performance with the system, Clare recommends feeding a top-quality milk replacement powder.

The advice is bolstered by the latest LifeStart Science research that’s revealed calves provided with a consistent, high plane of nutrition via ad-lib milk feeding, experience benefits post weaning above those animals of the same genetic merit that are fed a lower plane of nutrition.

“Elevating the plane of nutrition pre-weaning not only leads to higher calf growth rates and improved heifer performance but can also result in long-term positive impacts on fertility, survivability and lactation performance providing a clear return on investment,” says Clare.

Farmers must also take steps to smooth the transition from milk to non-liquid diets to avoid a post-weaning growth check, which applies to both ad-lib systems and restrictive systems.

“Calves will need to be eating 1.5 to 2kg of starter feeds before milk is fully taken away. When feeding ad-lib, calves can be slowly weaned over ten days by gradually taking milk away for a certain period of the day, with the total milk feeding period becoming shorter over a set period of time.

It is advised that farmers contact their nutritionist if target calf growth rates are not being achieved, in order to review all aspects of calf management.

“Every farm is very different in its system, so we focus on working closely with the farmer and their vet when offering advice.

“As a team, we can maximise the pool of ideas and help identify the best solutions to try, bringing in suggestions from our knowledge and experience of other similar farms and from trial work,” concludes Clare.

Case study example

According to Rory Christie, who runs a spring block calving herd of 1,100 cross-bred milkers in South West Scotland, moving from a restrictive system to ad-lib feeding has resulted in significant improvements in daily live weight gain (DLWG) in the first eight weeks of life.

The higher DLWG promoted by the ad-lib system means Mr Christie is able to gradually wean calves and have them fully off milk by 52 days, compared with their previous average weaning age of 56 days. Individual calves regularly achieve 0.97kg DLWG based on 35kg birth weight.

“Those early weeks of life are the most important and, if we get it right, heifer calves have an increased chance of being more successful cows. For us, it’s about meeting lifetime weight and yield targets and calf live weight gain,” explains Mr Christie.

Discussions with his nutritional specialist at Carr’s Billington prompted Mr Christie to think further about overall calf health, development and their lifetime potential.

“We moved to a high-spec milk powder which has worked well so far in the ad-lib system. We have reared calves successfully on whole milk in the past but switching to a powder is one of a number of measures we’ve taken to help protect against Johne’s in the herd. Powder can also provide more consistent milk quality, ease of management and, in theory, it can be cheaper, depending on your system and how you decide to account for that.

“There is no question that you have to pick a high-quality milk powder to get results; it should be one that suits you and you feel is value for money.”

“The powder we use, Vitality, part of Carr’s Billington’s energized calf milk range, is balanced in a way that calves can take a lot of milk and not suffer from any nutritional scour, so we’ve been able to increase intakes and growth significantly while maintaining the same good health as before,” Mr Christie adds.

Fertiliser spreader checks should be prioritised to reap financial rewards

Dairy farmers are being advised to consider ad-lib feeding this summer to boost dairy heifer calf growth and lifetime yield potential.

Farmers not checking fertiliser spreaders pre-application could be losing up to £100 per hectare.

This is the stark warning from Dale Shaw, our Machinery Sales Manager at Carr’s Billington.

“With input prices on the rise across the board farmers need to be considering how they can make small improvements on-farm to reduce the impact of volatile prices we are all currently seeing.

“Fertiliser prices are only going one way at the moment, but this is where you can reap the rewards if attention to detail is made a priority. Efficient fertiliser use and making the most of home-grown forage could go a long way this year,” he says.

As producers plan second cut silage, Dale suggests that in addition to considering when to spread fertiliser and the best product to use, producers should take the time to check over machinery before getting back out in the field.

“As with all machinery there will be various components that are susceptible to wear. Make sure you are confident that the agitator is working effectively and capable of ‘shaking’ the fertiliser down through the hopper.

“More often than not, the shutters on fertiliser spreaders are now electric. This can mean they are prone to issues, so test these to ensure they are opening and closing correctly to support flow rates.

“Likewise check over the discs and vanes for any signs of wear and replace these if necessary. Although investing in replacement parts can be costly, the cost of over or under spreading could be even more considerable in terms of the yield gained,” he explains.

Dale adds that once these checks have been done, calibrating the spreader to the product choice is important. “Don’t assume that all fertilisers have the same application settings as this is not the case. Different fertilisers will flow at different rates out of the machine. Check the fertiliser bags for the right information.

“Once you have set-up the spreader, consider doing a quick check in the yard. Remove one of the discs from the machine and replace with an adaptor. Place a bucket underneath the spreader and start the engine to simulate field conditions. Run it for 30 seconds collecting the fertiliser in the bucket.

“Weigh the fertiliser that has been collected and calculate how many kilograms should be coming from the spreader per minute. This should correlate with the fertiliser application settings and if there are differences you may have to make adjustments to the regulator to compensate. Modern machinery will be able to do much of this for you, however there is no harm in taking the time to double check.

“Ultimately you want your machinery to be applying product as accurately as possible to maximise yields – whether that’s grass yields, daily live weight gain or milk yields. Without taking the time to check over your machinery and get it set up properly, how do you know if applications rates are right, grass is getting the right nutrition and your money isn’t, quite literally, being flushed down the drain?”

Preparation key to successful grass growth this spring

With grass reseeding costing anywhere between £370 – £500/ha, it is important preparatory steps are taken now to realise the benefit of the investment this spring.

Alex Law, our Grassland and Forage crop Product Manager at Carr’s Billington, advises that prioritising what leys to reseed, in what order is key.
“This comes down to the results of a soil sampling report and having a clear understanding of how a new ley will be beneficial,” he says.

Soil sampling

“A soil sample report will determine the suitability of the area you want to reseed. For optimal growing conditions you ideally want a soil pH between 6-6.5, and phosphorus and potassium levels at an index of two to ensure nutrients are readily available for root growth.

“Although grass will germinate if soil conditions aren’t favourable, you should aim to focus on areas that have shown the most conducive results. This will ensure you have the best chance of growing healthy, highly productive swards and will help to reduce extra establishment costs,” explains Alex.
He also notes that areas with less favourable soil conditions can be repaired and reseeded at a later date.

Establish your goal

Alex adds that reseeding should be modelled to individual farm requirements including the selection of grass varieties.
“Only a proportion of farm may need to be reseeded to reach a particular productivity target, whether it be for grazing livestock or silage. As a general guideline, it’s advised a minimum of 10% is reseeded per year to sustain grass quality.

“However, this percentage will depend on many factors such as topography and your farm system,” he says.
He notes that considering other factors such as height above sea level, average rainfall and how long you want a field to be in grass for will also have an impact on how reseeding should be approached, and which grass varieties would be most appropriate.

“A successful reseed will pay back faster so it is very much worth putting initial preparation time into getting the results you are aiming for,” concludes Alex.
For copies of Carr’s Billington Grass and Forage Manual or advice on reseeding contact your local branch or farm-based consultant.

Bank Holiday opening times

Our store opening times for the Early May Bank Holiday 2021 are as follows:

Store

Saturday 1st May

Sunday 

Monday 3rd May

Annan 08:00am – 12:00pm Closed 08:00am – 05:00pm
Appleby 08:00am – 12:00pm Closed Closed
Ayr 09:00am-05:30pm Closed 09:00am-05:30pm
Bakewell 09:00am – 12:00pm Closed Closed
Balloch 09:00am-12.30 Closed 09:00am-05:00pm
Barnard Castle 08:00am – 12:00pm Closed Closed
Brecon 08:00am – 12:00pm Closed Closed
Brock 08:30am – 12.30pm Closed Closed
Carlisle 08:30am – 12.30pm Closed 08:30am – 12.30pm
Cockermouth 08:00am – 12:00pm Closed Closed
Gisburn 09:00am – 12.30pm Closed Closed
Hawes 09:00am – 12:00pm Closed Closed
Hexham 08:00am – 12:00pm Closed Closed
Jedburgh 08:15am-12:00pm Closed 08:15am-05:00pm
Kendal 08:30am – 12:00pm Closed Closed
Leek 09:00am – 12:00pm Closed Closed
Longtown Closed Closed Closed
Milnathort 08:00am-12:00pm Closed 08:00am-05:00pm
Morpeth 09:00am-12:00pm Closed Closed
Oban Closed Closed 09:00am-05:00pm
Penicuik 8.30-12:00pm Closed 8.30-05:00pm
Penrith 08:00am – 12:00pm Closed Closed
Rothbury 8.30-12:00pm Closed Closed
Skipton 09:00am – 12:00pm PM Closed 09:00am-04:00pm
Spennymoor 09:00am-12 Noon Closed Closed
Stirling 8.30-12:00pm Closed 8.30-05:00pm
Wooler 08:00am-12:00pm Closed Closed
Wigton 09:00am – 12:00pm Closed Closed

Easter opening times

Our store opening times for the Easter Bank Holiday 2021 are as follows:

Branch

Fri 2 April

Good Friday

Sat 3 April

Sun 4 April

Mon 5 April

Easter Monday

Oban 9am-5pm Closed Closed 9am-5pm
Balloch 8am -5pm 8am – 12.30pm Closed 8am -5pm
Ayr 9am-5.30pm 9am – 5.30pm Closed 9am-5.30pm
Stirling 8.30am – 5pm 8.30am – 12pm Closed Closed
Milnathort 8am – 5pm 8am – 12pm Closed 8am – 5pm
Penicuik 8.30am – 5pm 8:30am – 12pm Closed 8.30am – 5pm
Jedburgh 8.15am – 5pm 8.15am – 12pm Closed 8.15am – 5pm
Wooler 8am – 5pm 8am – 12pm Closed Closed
Rothbury Closed 8.30am – 12pm Closed Closed
Morpeth- Retail Closed 8.30am – 12pm Closed Closed
Morpeth – Machinery Closed 8am – 12pm Closed Closed
Bakewell Closed 9am – 12pm Closed Closed
Leek Closed 9am – 12pm Closed Closed
Gisburn Closed 9am – 12.30pm Closed Closed
Skipton Closed 9am – 12pm Closed 9am – 4pm
Hawes Closed 9am – 12pm Closed Closed
Brock Closed 8.30am -12.30pm Closed Closed
Annan 8am – 5pm 8am – 12pm Closed 8am – 5pm
Appleby Closed 8am – 12pm Closed Closed
Barnard Castle Closed 8am – 12pm Closed Closed
Carlisle Closed 8.30am-12pm Closed 8.30am – 1pm
Cockermouth Closed 8am – 12pm Closed Closed
Hexham Closed 8am – 12pm Closed Closed
Kendal Closed 8.30am – 12pm Closed Closed
Penrith Closed 8am – 12pm Closed Closed
Wigton Closed 9am – 12pm Closed Closed
Brecon Closed 8am – 12pm Closed Closed

Investing in our calf and youngstock expertise

We are proud to announce that 21 members of our team have completed our Calf Academy programme.

The year-long course ended this month and was specifically designed to improve knowledge and expertise in calf rearing and youngstock health. Including modules in nutrition and colostrum management, environmental control measures, and disease prevention.

The training course was co-designed and led by Julia Wadeson, calf and youngstock specialist, and Clare Lawson, calf and youngstock product manager. They both delivered it digitally through weekly online sessions, featuring external industry experts.

“We’re proud to have seen our first group graduating from the course,” says Julia. “And it’s brilliant that many of them are already engaging in conversations with customers about youngstock rearing.

“This was an extremely challenging programme which required a significant time commitment and participants were required to pass an exam at the end of each module. Our graduates are now better equipped to advise on giving calves the best possible start in life and how to optimise growth to reach an age of first calving of 24 months. “It was an inclusive programme, accessible to those working in-store and on-farm,” she adds.

Peter Cartmail, one of our area sales manager has been really impressed with the impact the course has had, noting that “the entire course from start to finish covered all the relevant points, some much more technical than others, but combined gave a rounded understanding of what’s required to successfully rear calves”.

Following the success of this year’s programme, we are now planning to run the course annually for our staff, alongside top-up modules for those already qualified.

Reduce the Risk of Staggers this Spring

Grass staggers, tetany, hypomagnesaemia, call it what you like but spring magnesium deficiency in ruminants can be both fatal and expensive.

Although it seems that the snow has barely melted, grass will soon start to grow, when stock are turned out the issue of staggers will need to be managed.

The problem

Fast-growing spring pasture is low in magnesium, highly digestible and high in moisture. This, together with less supplementary feed used at grass means that magnesium intake is reduced. To make matters worse, magnesium absorption in the animal’s gut can be compromised by high fertiliser use, particularly when potassium is added to the pasture. If the challenge of low magnesium supply is not enough, stress can also reduce blood magnesium levels making a dangerous situation critical.

The problem of staggers is mainly seen in but not confined to lactating livestock during the spring grazing period with the risk period lasting anywhere between three and ten weeks. Animals do not store magnesium in the body and clinical hypomagnesaemia will occur when the losses of magnesium through the milk exceed the dietary intake allowing blood levels to fall below a critical level. Classic symptoms of nervousness, twitching, stiffness, staggering and collapse can follow although many cows showing no signs of the deficiency will have reduced milk yield.

What can be done?

One remedy would be to be extra-vigilant by constantly monitoring livestock for the onset of hypomagnesaemia and to administer subcutaneous magnesium sulphate injection at the first signs. Needless to say this is not a practical approach, nor would it prevent reoccurrence so methods of prevention should be used as part of the dietary management of herd or flock in the spring months. The options available to provide supplementary magnesium include boluses or alternatively by feeding a high level to livestock in the form of a dietetic feed. This can be in a number of forms including cobs, high magnesium cake, liquid feeds and mineral feeding stuffs. It should be stressed that none of these methods are a guarantee on their own and to further reduced the risk, should be fed in conjunction with readily available energy and a source of long fibre.

Megalix Quattro Mag

One popular way of feeding supplemental magnesium is via a palatable molassed mineral lick such as Megalix Quattro Mag. With four sources of magnesium including AGMA calcined magnesite, Megalix Quattro Mag ticks the boxes for free choice feeding in the spring grazing period. With two slow releasing sources of magnesium and two quick releasing sources, Megalix Quattro Mag gives livestock both immediate and sustained protection against staggers.

AGMA calcined magnesite is regarded by many as the best magnesite on the market, with independent research at Glasgow University Veterinary School confirming that AGMA has superior bioavailability of magnesium, highest rumen solubility and the most consistent product quality.

Megalix Quattro Mag is available in 20kg and 80kg tubs and provides livestock with 24 hour protection against staggers.

Grass and Forage Guide 2021

boost future grasslands output

Read our latest Grass and Forage Product Management Guide

You can now order a copy of our grass seed brochure by calling our forage line on 08000 234416 or by visiting your local Carr’s Billington store

“Grass remains crucial for the dietary requirements of UK livestock production. On farm optimal grass production can be achieved by identifying the soil status, managing weed infestations and monitoring forage utilisation. At Carr’s Billington we aim to offer an extensive range of high performing grass and forage mixtures selected from recommended varieties, supported with specialist on farm advice.”
Alex Law
Grassland Specialist

Or you can also flick through or download a digital copy below. 

For more information just contact Alex on our Forage Hotline: 08000 234416 or visit one of our local stores.

Machinery News – Winter 2020

Read the latest news from our Machinery Team and Tractor Emporium.

You can now pick up a copy of Machinery News at your local Carr’s Billington Depot or download a PDF copy.

This issue covers everything from the extension of our Massey Ferguson territory, the all new 8S Series, winter servicing, an intro to our workshop team, updates from Teagle and Can-Am, as well as LPG conversions, Stihl and more!

You can also flick through a digital copy below. 

For more information just contact your local Carr’s Billington Machinery depot, or use our store locator here.