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

New Complete Nutritional Supplement Range

vita range launch

Farmers set to benefit from launch of new complete nutritional supplement range

In a bid to help support farming livelihoods more sustainably, We at Carr’s Billington has developed our own-brand range of premium quality nutritional supplements.

Founded on the need for a more simple and effective means of ensuring animals have what they need when they need it, the complete range of feedblocks, powdered minerals, and mineral and feed buckets have been specially designed to help address the wide range of production challenges faced by beef, sheep, and dairy farmers at different times of the year.

Chrissie Smith, mineral and feed supplements product manager here at Carr’s Billington, says the new Vitamix, Vitalyx and Vitablox ranges are testament to the company’s team and their longstanding relationships with farmers.

“The technical team have worked closely with farmers to develop a solution based range, bringing together the latest proven technology, capable of further supporting livestock growth, production and reproductive performance,” she explains.

“We’ve also taken a positive leap forward in terms of sustainability with this new range, manufacturing the products nearby using high quality ingredients that are sourced locally wherever possible.”

These nutritional supplements are intended for supplementing grazing, silages and home-grown feeds, making better use of what’s grown on farm whilst balancing forage deficiencies.

“Farmers have the option of choosing between three ranges which are most appropriate for their systems, livestock, and business goals”.

vitalyx

The Vitalyx mineral and feed bucket range

Can be offered to livestock as free access, providing a continuous nutrient supply 24/7 on a little and often basis, which is a cost-effective and time-efficient means of supplementation. 

The Vitamix powdered mineral range

Is also available as free-access or in-feed, helping to ensure all key micronutrients are supplied at the correct levels to maximise stock performance. We’re also pleased to announce this has been packaged using at least 30% reclaimed plastic.”

vitamix

Finally, Chrissie explains

vitablox

The Vitablox feedblock range

Is packed with key nutrients including Sulphur, B vitamins, chelated zinc, and organic selenium. This also contains locally sourced Scottish distillers’ dark grains as well as Carr’s Billington’s own rumen by-pass protein, AminoMax-M™ incorporating British rape.

“Fundamentally, our new complete and yet streamlined range of products have been developed to help fulfil livestock nutrient requirements during vital periods within the farming calendar, such as tupping time and autumn calving time.

“As a business, we also want to help our customers continue to achieve their goals while also working towards a more sustainable future. Providing products from sources they can trust is a critical part of this,” she concludes.

Donations to WellChild top £45,000

Donations to WellChild top £45,000

Carr’s Billington raises £45,000 for children’s charity, despite one of the most challenging years for fundraising.

For the past six years, We at Carr’s Billington has been using the sale of the unique purple bale wrap as an opportunity to raise much needed funds for WellChild, a national charity that supports seriously ill children throughout the UK.

Kate Acutt, senior fundraiser at WellChild, thanked the staff and customers at Carr’s Billington for their ongoing support, particularly during this past year.

“In April 2020, we were projecting a 60% loss in income, mainly from the postponement or cancellation of key fundraising events. We’ve worked hard to find new and innovative sources of funding to meet the sudden surge in demand from the families we support, who have been particularly vulnerable during this time,” she explains.

“WellChild relies almost entirely on voluntary donations to ensure the delivery of our services across the UK. The support from Carr’s Billington’s purple bale wrap sales is so important to us because not only does the campaign raise significant sums to support our vital work, but the quirky and fun campaign has raised fantastic awareness of the charity and how we support families. This includes providing giant emoji stickers to be used on the wrap so that the bales are really eye catching for passers-by.”

So far this year, 700 rolls of purple wrap has been sold across the country, and for every roll purchased, £5 is donated to WellChild. In normal years, staff and customers also participate in other fundraising activities, like golf days and charity walks.

“Although we haven’t been able to host any of our in-person fundraising events, we were determined to still provide as much support to WellChild as possible,” explains Mark Cole, managing director at Carr’s Billington.

“I’d like to personally thank all of our customers who have made this possible by continuing to buy the purple wrap and support this phenomenal cause. We can all be extremely proud of what we have achieved to date and I look forward to progressing this in the future.”

For more information, or if you’d like to find out more about the purple wrap, contact your local Carr’s Billington representative or call 08000 234416.

wellchild wrap
wellchild stack
wellchild wrapped

About WellChild

www.wellchild.org.uk

WellChild is the national charity for seriously ill children and their families. More than 100,000 children and young people are living across the UK with serious health needs. Through a nationwide network of children’s nurses working within the NHS, bedroom and garden transformation projects and family training, information and support services, WellChild exists to give this growing population of children and young people the best chance to thrive – properly supported at home instead of hospital, together with their families.

With less than 2% of income coming from statutory sources, WellChild is wholly reliant on the support of individuals and organisations. The COVID-19 outbreak has seen the charity lose up to 60% of projected income as fundraising events and activities are cancelled or postponed. To make a donation, visit wellchild.org.uk/donate

A Guide To Improving Ewe Fertility

guide to improving ewe fertility

Pre-tupping flock management 

It is recommended that optimum ewe body condition is maintained by managing and monitoring flock BCS all-year-round, with a particular focus at specific points in the year such as pre-tupping.

This is for a number of reasons: 

  • Ewes have an underlying four-to-five-month follicle maturation cycle so nutrition and BCS have an influence on ovulation rates for up to six months before tupping 
  • If ewes receive below maintenance level of nutrition in the six weeks pre-tupping, there is a risk to early foetal development 
  • The loss of too much body condition can affect future fertility and offspring fertility

It is also worth noting that feeding legumes, red clover or silage 45 days before and after tupping should be avoided to prevent ovarian function being compromised.

As part of your pre-tupping management, make sure you don’t overlook your rams. Consider giving them a health MOT to ensure they are in optimal condition to avoid potential fertility issues.  

guide improving ewe

Leaner ewe management  

Leaner ewes (with a BCS of 2 or less post-weaning), or ewes that don’t reach their target BCS six weeks pre-tupping should have their nutritional intakes increased gradually to achieve optimum BCS at mating. 

Ewes that are below their target BCS tend to have a poorer ovulation rate, with a reduction in scanning percentage. If lowland crossbred ewes increase their BCS from 2.5 to 3.5 scanning percentages can increase by 20-40%.  

Ewes with a lower BCS will be hormonally driven to increase their dry matter intakes by up to 30% more, however if grazing intakes do not meet energy requirements, flushing could be used to increase body condition scores. Flushing by feeding a high plane of nutrition can be achieved by providing access to better-quality grazing, and if necessary, supplementary feed and nutritional blocks. 

The fertility of ewes in good condition won’t be improved by flushing as an ideal BCS will optimise ovulation, conception and embryo implantation rates. 

If leaner ewes don’t gain condition on good grazing after four to five weeks, seek advice from your vet.

For more information on ewe nutrition and improving BCS pre-tupping check out our three top tips for preparing ewes for tupping blog. 

improving ewe fertility

Avoiding issues when improving ewe fertility

Increasing ewe nutritional intakes to improve ewe fertility should be done with care to avoid issues arising. For example:

  • A rise in nutrition in highly prolific breeds, such as the Lleyn and Aberdale, will result in excessive ovulation rates and therefore excessive embryo numbers developing
  • When leaner, older ewes are pushed into high ovulation rates there is an increased likelihood that they could carry triplets which could cause issues during pregnancy and at lambing

Top Tips To Prepare Rams For Tupping

preparing rams for tupping

Performing a ram check ten weeks pre-tupping will ensure any health or condition problems are detected in good time. This will allow for treatment to be administered or replacements to be sourced.

If rams aren’t in the best condition for tupping, they won’t be working to their full potential, so the productivity and profitability of your flock could be negatively impacted.

Perform a ram MOT

Use the four T’s rule when checking over rams.

Teeth – Rams with mouth problems could be prevented from reaching their ideal body condition score pre-tupping or lose more condition than is normal during tupping. To prevent this, check for:

  • Spikey or missing teeth
  • Under and overshot jaws (the teeth should touch the dental pad at the top)
  • Abscesses along the jawline

Consider replacement rams if grazing is affected by these issues or in the case of infection, consult your vet.

Toes – Painful foot problems could reduce grazing time and prevent rams from serving ewes.  What’s more, infection may raise the body temperature of the ram which could reduce fertility as sperm production may be hindered. It’s therefore important to:

  • Check each foot for growths, scald, footrot, CODD, long toes or swellings
  • Check between their front legs for brisket sore as this may reduce their willingness to mount ewes and may be made worse by a raddle harness

Antibiotic injection, topical antibiotic spray and early detection of footrot is more effective than foot paring. Consult your vet or visit your local agricultural supplier for advice or products if needed.

preparing rams for tupping

Testicles – Tup testicles obviously need to be in good working order to promote sperm function or production. Establish the condition ram testicles are in by:

  • Checking for abnormalities or lumps in the testicles and scrotum that could affect sperm or semen function
  • Checking the hard nobbles at the bottom of each testicle (the epididymis) are normal, equal in size and smooth
  • Checking for scabs or thickened skin on the scrotum as this could be a sign of mange
  • Ensuring the testicles should be firm and spongy but not hard, heavy, evenly matched and freely mobile within the scrotum

It’s important to measure the circumference of the testicles as this directly correlates to ram fertility. Correct feeding can increase testicle size and rams with larger testicles are known to produce ewe lambs that breed earlier. The general guide for scrotum size at the widest point is as follows:

Mature Ram
Lowland breeds: 36 – 38 cm
Hill breeds: 34 – 36 cm
Shearlings
Lowland breeds: 32 – 34 cm
Hill breeds: 30 – 32 cm
Ram Lambs
Lowland breeds: 30 cm
Hill breeds: 28 cm

(Source: Farm Advisory Service)

Tone – Tups will often lose around 15% of their original body weight over the six-week tupping period, so it’s important they are in the right condition prior to mating. This will ensure they have enough energy for testicular growth and semen production. It will also mean they have the stamina to serve the required number of ewes.

Aim for a body condition score (BCS) of between 3.5 and 4 eight weeks before introducing rams to ewes, as this affects sperm quality so may in turn result in repeat higher lambing rates and increase the likelihood of twins.

A less than optimum BCS can reduce their interest in ewes as well as hinder fertility, while excess weight can reduce libido.

If rams are struggling to meet achieve the correct BCS six weeks before mating, consider supplementing their diets with a suitable compound as this should help with testicular growth and sperm production. Make sure any feed given contains ammonium chloride and ammonium sulphate to prevent stones forming in the bladder and that they don’t consume high levels of magnesium.

Consider providing mineral blocks to ensure trace element requirements are met (selenium may help with improved sperm production), and ensure tups are wormed and vaccinated to prevent health issues.

3 Top Tips For Preparing Ewes For Tupping

preparing ewes for tupping

3 of our top tips for preparing ewes for tupping

Making sure ewes are in the right condition pre-tupping will help to ensure target lambing percentages are achieved.

Following challenged grass growth this spring and summer, ewe condition may be varied so here are our top tips which can be used to prepare ewes for tupping this autumn.

1. Split ewes by body condition score

As part of early pre-tupping preparation, split ewes into fit-thin-fat groups ten to twelve weeks before putting rams in. This will allow for grazing to be allocated to ensure ewes meet their target body condition score (BCS) by the time rams are introduced.

Meeting target BCS scores will improve ewe fertility and increase the chances of at least 75% of ewes holding to first service. Read our blog on improving ewe fertility to learn more.

The ideal BCS prior to breeding will vary depending on breed and type, but a basic guide for ewes is as follows:

Lowland Ewes: 3-3.5 BCS | Upland Ewes 2.5-3 BCS | Hill Ewes 2- 2.5 BCS

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(Source: AHDB)

2. Understand energy requirements and grazing intakes

The energy requirements (MJ) and grazing intake (Kg DM) to achieve optimal body condition scores, will vary depending on breed. For a lowland 70kg ewe to gain one BCS it will need to put on 7kg in weight and to put on half a BCS, it will need to put on 3.5kg in weight. A break down of the energy and grazing intakes required to achieve this weight gain can be seen in the table below:

Lowland 70 kg ewe at mating
Body condition score gain 1.0
Weight gain requirement (kg) over 70 days 7.0
Energy and grazing intake for weight gain
Daily ME for weight gain (MJ) 10
Maintenance ME requirement (MJ) 8.4
Total ME Requirement (MJ) 18.4
Daily grass intake requirement (Kg DM) 1.84

To achieve the energy requirements and grazing intake:

  • Move fit and fatter ewes onto barer ground or poorer-quality grazing to prevent them gaining too much condition (BCS >4). Slimming ewes that are above their target BCS could have a negative impact on follicle development.
  • Where ewes are leaner (BCS less than 2) or grazing is limited, consider early weaning, providing more access to better-quality and if necessary supplementary feed and nutritional blocks.

Assess how the flock are performing every two to three weeks to allow adjustments to be made if necessary.

vitalyx-prepare-ewe-tupping

3. Perform health checks

Health issues and disease risks within the flock could reduce grazing time and result in a drop in condition, preventing ewes from meeting their target BCS.

Ideally, a preventative approach to health issues should be taken throughout the year but check for the following signs of ill health when splitting the flock to optimise ewe condition pre-tupping:

  • Worm burdens. Common signs include scouring and poor condition
  • Fluke challenges. Common signs include scouring, poor condition, swelling beneath the jaw and poor fleece condition
  • Lameness
  • Poor teeth

Administering a multi-vitamin drench containing cobalt and selenium to all ewes four to six weeks before tupping will also help reduce the likelihood of health or disease risks caused by trace element deficiencies.

For more information on performing ram health checks check out our tup health blog       

It’s #TIME4TUPPING

Are you performance-ready? Our specialist advisers are here to help smash targets, not just hit them.

For more information on Tupping, visit our Time4Tupping information page here.

Tactics to keep dairy cows free from heat stress

Tactics to keep dairy cows free from heat stress

Jimmy Goldie, Chief Technical Officer at Carr’s Billington, advises on how to keep cows cool as a September heat wave looms and threatens herd health, fertility, and productivity.

August, despite its traditional warmth, has felt much more like autumn than summer this year.

But recent forecasts have indicated that sweltering heatwave conditions climaxing into the 30’s are to reach parts of the British Isles this September. And with heat stress impacting dairy cows from temperatures as low as 14°C when humidity levels are high, now is the #TIME2KEEPCOOL and ensure your cows have what they need to carry on milking.

How heat stress effects dairy cows

When the core body temperature of the dairy cow is raised above its normal range, the metabolic and immune system are compromised. The energy is prioritised away from normal function to means of keeping cool.

To make matters more extreme, the modern productive dairy cow is like an athlete and therefore tends to have a higher metabolic rate, and in turn, generates more heat.

Furthermore, cows are currently unacclimatised to higher temperature coupled with greater humidity levels, and so will suffer a greater shock when the heatwave comes.

When humidity levels are at 60%, performance is affected as follows:

at 14 degrees oestrus behaviour is affected
at 20 degrees conception is affected
At 22 degrees milk yield and quality is affected

Here’s what you can do now to avoid these signs and negative impacts in your dairy cows:

Focus on cow comfort

Whether your milking cows live in all year round or are out grazing, the key to managing heat stress is to provide them with the most comfortable surroundings possible. Here’s some quick fixes that you can implement straight away:

1. Provide access to shade in the way of trees, hedgerows, sheds and coverings.
2. Ensure adequate air flow by opening sheds up as far as possible.
3. Reduce stocking density and reduce group sizes in collecting yard.
4. Ensure water troughs are super clean and waterflow is optimised.
5. Hose cows down when they enter the collecting yard.
6. Feed in the late afternoon or early evening.

Longer term investments include installation of fans in buildings, installation of extra water troughs and other building adaptations such as removing roof ridges.

Prevent dehydration and stress damage

Heat stress increases the production of oxidants, causing oxidative stress and lipid peroxidation of cell membranes. This imposes a threat to the immune system and the reproductive function.

Equaliser® CoolCow is a unique blend of internal cooling elements, buffering agents, and alkalising ingredients designed to help prevent internal heat stress.

Maintain normal rumen function

When cows hit their upper thermal limit, saliva production is suppressed, causing sub-optimal rumen acid levels:
pH 6.2 to 7.0 – neutral to slightly acidic and ideal for all rumen microbes
pH < 6.2 – fibre-digesting bacteria begin to slow down
pH < 5.4 – fibre-digesting bacteria die out and lactic acid bacteria increase

Increasing the nutrient density of the diet to compensate for the lower dry matter intakes can compromise the rumen environment and function. TechTonic® is Carr’s Billington’s own rumen conditioner designed to help improve rumen pH, and in doing so, reducing the risk of sub-optimal rumen conditions and SARA.

Increase by-pass protein content

As rumen function is impaired, we advise increasing the by-pass protein content of the diet.

AminoMax-Pro is Carr’s Billington’s high DUP (Digestible Undegradable Protein) feed material, unique in the fact it is manufactured using natural ingredients rather than being formaldehyde treated. This patented process improves the DUP content of both soya and rape by heating them in the presence of sugar and steam. Sugars bind to the protein and block digestion in the rumen. Acid in the abomasum then releases the protein from the sugar allowing full digestion and absorption of essential amino acids.

Boost highly metabolizable energy

Certain foods will exacerbate the heat that’s produced from digestion, and others will have the opposite effect. High-fibre forages will require much more chewing and cudding to break down for digestion than low fibre supplements, generating greater heat per unit of energy.

Megalac is a protected fat supplement that is gentle on the rumen. It doesn’t ferment in the rumen, which means cattle get the benefits of an energy-dense feed without the associated heat production as with other nutrient sources.

It’s #TIME2KEEPCOOL

By adding these ingredients to your ration or concentrate meal, you can help maintain production and fertility throughout periods of heat stress. Take advantage of our trusted advisors trained to help keep your cows cool and able to carry on.

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Expansion With Massey Ferguson

Further growth and area expansion with Massey Ferguson.

We are pleased to confirm plans to open our first Massey Ferguson location in North Yorkshire.

Following changes with our neighbouring Massey Ferguson dealer, Franks Curtis, which will take full effect from the 1st of January, we are very excited to announce that from 2022 we will cover sales, parts & service in an enlarged new area including Teesside & part of North Yorkshire from Boroughbridge through to Kirkbymoorside and Whitby.

This development follows on from our recent successful expansion into Southwest Scotland and the Scottish borders at the start of 2021 which seen us add the Stranraer depot, this is planned to be open late 2021. It is also a result of our focus exclusively on the Massey Ferguson brand for new tractor sales and our continued focus across the full Massey Ferguson portfolio.

We recently opened a machinery and used tractor outlet at Skipton auction mart and have been extremely impressed with the results from working with customers in this area and we’re positive about growing our business through working closely with customers across all our new territories. These planned changes will increase the Carr’s Billington tractor, machinery and ground care footprint to 11 locations across the North of England and Southwest Scotland.

We are currently working on our plans to cover our newly appointed area and will announce a new depot location in the near future, our aspiration is to have a depot open by mid-2022. Keep up to date with the latest news on our website carrs-billington.com or our machinery social media pages visit now.

Our success is achievable only by having a great team!

Hardworking individuals, dedicated to the industry with a passion to succeed will be required as we grow our business – a recruitment page covering new opportunities will be released soon – in the meantime if you want to be part of one of the fastest growing agricultural suppliers in the UK, please forward any initial interest by email Click here 

Important Dates For Your Diary

At the end of August we will go through a significant upgrade to our internal computer systems, preparing for the future.

IMPORTANT DATES FOR YOUR DIARY:

27 -31 AUGUST

WE ARE UPGRADING OUR SYSTEMS

At the end of August we will go through a significant upgrade to our internal computer systems.  Preparing our business for the future so we can continue to support yours for generations to come.  This will impact everything from feed to fuels orders to our Country Stores and Machinery Depots.  To help things go as smoothly as possible, there are a few things you need to know:

WHAT’S HAPPENING?

Whilst our upgrade takes place, we will pause the manufacture of feed and temporarily close our Country Stores on Saturday 28 and Monday 30 August.

We’d be really grateful for your patience and understanding during this time.

STILL HAVE A QUESTION?

You can speak to a member of our in-store teams or call us on 01228 518860, quoting system upgrade.

If you order feed from our Mills at Stone or Micklow, please call 01785 760535.

We’ll be happy to help.

Thank you for bearing with us!

Fly nuisance this summer could be costly

flies nuisance this suymmer

Fly nuisance this summer

As recent warm weather has caused fly populations to emerge and rapidly multiply, farmers need to make minimising grazing disturbance from flies a priority.

Mark Brady, product manager here at Carr’s Billington, says that the fly breeding season was delayed by around a month this year due to the cold weather in early spring. But now summer is here, and temperatures are likely to stay high, it’s crucial farmers act to reduce the financial impact flies could have over the grazing season.

“There is research to suggest fly irritation could reduce milk yields by up to 0.5 litres/cow/day, growth rates of beef cattle by 0.3kg/head/day [1], and could cause up to 5.5kg weight loss in sheep over a four to six day period [2], so I’d recommend using a combination of methods to help prevent these potentially significant losses.”

“Keep livestock away from wetlands, waterlogged areas and trees if possible, as this is where flies tend to congregate. Applying insecticides to grazing livestock as a preventative measure is also advisable and it’s important to use them regularly and appropriately. Insecticide-impregnated ear tags for example, could form part of your fly management plan,” he says.

Supplementary Licks

Mr Brady adds that supplementary licks containing garlic could also be made accessible to dry cows, youngstock and animals not heading for slaughter as they are said to help with the effect of flies in high challenge areas. For the best advice on fly control, he suggests farmers speak to their local vet or Animal Medicines Adviser (RAMA).

“All of Carr’s Billington’s RAMAs are educated in fly prevention and treatments as they receive regular training. This also ensures they’re aware of the most up to date information based on the fly forecast for that particular year.”

“Vets and RAMAs also speak to many other farmers in the local area on a daily basis so they are kept up to date on when different fly species have emerged, or incidents of fly transmitted disease.”

flies on cow

Mr Brady also says that the online national Blowfly Alert tracker, provided by the National Animal Disease Information Service (NADIS) and Elanco, is a handy tool farmers can use to keep well-informed of where blowflies are present across the country and how much of a risk they pose.

“Generally, when good fly management practices are implemented and maintained all year round, it’s easier to reduce nuisance and welfare issues come the peak season. However, there are still plenty of options that can be implemented now that will help keep on top of the issue and reduce the financial losses flies could cause this summer,” he concludes.

[1]Jonsson et al (1999). Med. Vet. Entomology 13, p372-376.

[2]Australian Sheep Animal Welfare Senate Meeting (1985)