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By P&L Agriconsulting, Oct 25 2020 05:38PM

Due to decreased volumes of straw harvested in 2020, availability for this winter looks to be restrictive, therefore prices have been increasing over the past few month; and may increase further over winter 2020.

Therefore alternatives may need to be looked at, not only from a price point but a physical availability of quality straw.

Sand- this product is being used in increasing amounts in dairy cubicles- with advantages being seen in decreased bacteria rates. However, Sand can also be used in loose housed systems for both dairy and beef, at a recommended depth of 20- 30cm. Sand can also be used as a base product and topped up with straw. With advantages seen in improved drainage in the bedding. Although disposal of sand needs to be considered, with large amounts effecting pH of soil when spread.

Woodchip- This can be re-used for numerous winters and is readily available, being ideal for a loosed housed system. The key with this product being the quality obtained, has it may contain nails or staples, especially if known as a ‘recycled wood product’- usually you get what you pay for with regards to variation in product.

Paper- This can be used as a loose housed bedding product at rates of circa 10cm depth for beef and sheep (increased depth for dairy). This product is highly absorbent and easy to store, however disadvantages come when it gets too wet, as it can set solid and be a breeding ground for pathogens (therefore animals with low protein diets are more suited).

Sawdust- This product is known to be effective in cubicles, however it can also be used in a loose housing situation. Advantages are seen in animal comfort and being more easily disposable with manure onto the land. However it does need to be topped up regularly has it is highly absorbent and can harbour bacteria.

To find out more contact P&L Consultant Sarah Lea on 07903 021875 or email [email protected]

By P&L Agriconsulting, Aug 22 2020 02:58PM

Topically heat stress has been seen widely throughout the spring summer of 2020, however it is not a problem that only occurs in the summer. A Dairy cow has an optimal temperature range in which is seen to be comfortable, that is between 5C and 15C. Temperature alone is compounded by the humidity when looking at heat stress, how many sheds in the winter are warm, damp and stuffy.

The signs and consequences of heat stress can vary widely, and are not limited to a drop off in milk which is the widely accepted view. Some consequences of heat stress are quite subtle and, therefore, make it harder to realize the full animal welfare impacts and economic damage that may occur if ignored. The consequences of heat stress can include lower dry matter intake, milk fat depression, reduced pregnancy rate, cows calving early, calves with low birth weight, and compromised immune systems, resulting in increases of retained placentas, metritis, and mastitis. Consider these when assessing the suitability of your winter housing.

Collecting yards/milking parlours tend to be the hottest area on dairy farms with overcrowding driving up temperatures. Adding measures to lower the temperature in this key area can pay dividends as cows are frequent visitors to these areas. As such the collecting yard is often one of the easiest and most economical places to start. Add a fan, consider sprinklers; however bear in mind when considering adding sprinklers to the holding pen is that, without proper ventilation, it could turn in to a sauna, by lifting the humidity level.

There is often a higher return on investment for heat lowering measures for dry/transition cows and fresh calvers. Transition cow cooling can help reduce metabolic diseases and improve start-up milk. Cooling high groups can help improve reproduction and peak milk. Improved ventilation/stocking rates should be considered a priority.

For more information please contact Sarah Lea at P&L Agri-Consulting on 07903 021875 or [email protected]

By P&L Agriconsulting, Jul 6 2020 09:12AM

• This grant has now been extended for the months of June/July and August 2020

• The grant is ready to reapply for in August 2020

• The new extension now provides a grant of 70% (reduced from 80%) of average trading profits- for a 3-month period

To Note, as previous:

• You or your business must have been affected by Coronavirus

• It will be paid out in one instalment

• You can continue to work while receiving the grant

• HMRC will calculate how much you are owed- by using your tax returns

By P&L Agriconsulting, Feb 14 2018 03:46PM

Does Rotational Grazing suit my farm?

There is a very strong correlation between farms that graze grass efficiently and those that achieve much higher than average profitability per hectare, this is amongst dairy, beef and sheep farms.

There are several options when grazing eg. rotational grazing, set stocking or strip grazing. However there is a recent move in the UK to more rotational systems, this is proven to produce higher volumes of grass per hectare.

When setting up a rotational grazing system, the following areas must be considered:

Daily grass demand- this may change throughout the season, for example with suckler cows and calves, has animal growth rates increase throughout the season.

Infrastructure- what Is the easiest way to split fields or utilise the existing water troughs, costs can be saved by using electric fencing rather than permanent structures.

Measuring Grass- ideally grass should be measured on a weekly basis with a plate meter, which measures both the height of the grass and the density. Could you get funding for one of these on the recently introduced RDPE small grant scheme? This information can then be entered in to grazing tools and used to make key decisions, such has fertiliser applications and supplementary feeding volumes.

Rotational grazing will help to open-up the sward and encourage ryegrass growth, so having the cleanest and newest grass varieties is not a necessity, especially at the beginning of this process.

Don’t be afraid to make changes throughout the season, for example during the highest growth periods, paddocks can be taken out for silage. Whilst near the end of the season extra fields can be bought into the rotation when grass growth slows and preserved forage has been made.

The challenge is to plan and set up your system now so that you can utilise grass in the coming months. P&L can help with planning and monitoring your system - we can walk your fields and monitor results to help you achieve the best results.

To find out more contact P&L Consultant Sarah Lea on 07903 021875 or email [email protected]

By P&L Agriconsulting, Jan 2 2018 12:22PM

Preparing for Lambing - Last 6 Weeks of Pregnancy

Correct ewe nutrition is one of the most influential factors behind periparturient losses, this is especially important in the last 6 weeks where 70% of the foetal growth occurs

Providing the ewe will the correct nutrients in terms of energy and protein levels will aid the following:

· Prevention of negative energy balance in the ewe

· Prevention of Hypocalcaemia and pregnancy toxaemia (twin lamb)

· Maintenance and growth of unborn lambs

· Production of good quality colostrum and adequate volumes

A ewe can only consume 2-2.5% of her body weight in dry matter (DM), therefore in an 80kg ewe this equates to 1.6 to 2.0kg DM. This is complicated by a 10% reduction in dry matter intake (DMI) during the final two weeks of pregnancy.

There are many options for feeding in this last 6 weeks of pregnancy, the decision on farm will be dependent on availability of products and individual ewe/flock demands.

Paddock Grazing

This is especially seen in more robust extensive breeds that usually lamb outside. Sufficient winter growth of grass is needed with this option, which may be especially difficult this season with lower grass growth levels than this time last year. Set stocking is usually returned to 3 weeks before lambing and additional conserved forage is added in bad weather situations.

Deferred Grazing

This where ewes are removed from a block of ground before winter so a wedge of grass is built up, which can then be fed back by strip/paddock grazing. Although this would have needed to be considered in the September period to build up sufficient quantity.


These include crops such has kale and forage rape, a run back section is key with these crops. Brassicas provide a high energy diet but there are specific mineral needs that need to be met with these crops. Adequate protein levels in the overall diet need to be monitored when feeding fodder beet and swedes.

Conserved Forages

In creating a diet of conserved forage there can be huge variation between forages, even form the same field, so analysis is key.

The higher the forage quality, the higher the feed intake, with added concentrates seen to decrease the volume of forage consumed. Concentrates are not necessary in all conserved forage diets, this is especially seen in single bearing ewes.

Energy and protein demand of the ewe is again key in making the decision to feed concentrate. With obvious variation seen in ewe body weight and number of lambs. Energy of concentrates and protein content, along with type of protein is vital. With recent research highlight the importance of good quality protein sources.

For more information please contact Sarah Les at P&L Agri-Consulting on 07903 021875 or [email protected]

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December 2020