DO BUMPER PITS HOLD PROMISE?

Dairy, Beef and Sheep farmers, reliant on grass silage for their winter livestock rations, are being urged to have their bales and pits sampled and analysed in this bumper yielding year.

The call comes as AgriScot launches its annual silage competition, itself designed to encourage farmers to better evaluate their silage and silage growing strategies.

Competition organiser, Andrew Best, from sponsor, Watson Seeds commented:

“Record grass yields over the past few months mean many farm silage pits and bale stacks are full to overflowing. This is of course, in sharp contrast to 2018, when the summer drought led to poor grass growth in many areas.”

“I would encourage all dairy, beef and sheep farmers to have their 2019 silage analysed. It is an unfortunate fact that quantity can sometimes dilute quality, especially when we have had such rapid growth rates and heavy wet crops to contend with. In such circumstances it is important to know exactly what livestock nutrition can be provided from silage stocks.”

“Armed with a chemical analysis, it is then easy to enter our silage competition – by simply emailing me the report. Hugh McClymont, from the SRUC’s Crichton Royal Farm, will then rank the reports in order, with the top silages producers then invited to provide live samples from their pit or bales for the final analysis on the day of AgriScot.”

AgriScot chairman, Robert Neill, who explained more about how the competition fits within the overall event.

“AgriScot is attended by a great many livestock farmers and, indeed, contractors, for whom quality silage production is hugely important.”

“We are always looking to showcase best practice at AgriScot and rewarding the fruits of successful silage making is part of that overall aim.”

“The commentary around the live analysis, in our main ring, with judge Hugh McClymont has proven to be a great attraction at the past couple of AgriScots. Even more so last year when Hugh was joined by guest judge Jimmy Warnock with his request for ketchup to help with his silage tasting!”

“I am delighted that Jimmy Warnock will once again act as guest judge for the competition.”

The AgriScot silage competition has classes for “dairy” and “beef/sheep” clamp silages and also big bale silage. Entries can be from any cut of silage. There is also a special young farmers class for producers under 26 years of age to enter any pit silage.

The 2018 competition, which attracted a record number of entries saw Jamie McIntyre, Milton of Cullerlie, Aberdeenshire take 1st prize inn the beef and sheep category clamp silage category, with a sample analysing at 30.5DM and 11.6ME and a crude protein of 13%.

First place in this dairy section was awarded to J Kerr & Sons of Kirkland’s farm, Carnwath. Cut on the 18th of May, the earliest cut of all finalists, this sample analysed at 37.5 dry matter, 12.9 metabolizable energy and 14.9 crude protein.

The second and third placed silages in the dairy section were both produced on certified organic farms. The blue ticket was awarded to, a 40DM, 12.6ME, 15.5CP silage from Rob and Andrena Shanks, organic unit, Queenscairn, Stichill, Kelso with third place going home to Torr Organics Dairy, Castle Douglas.

The big bale silage class attracted some top-quality entries, with the latest cut – 22nd of August – of all finalists, a sample entered by Graeme Mather, Shandford, Brechin coming out on top in this section. This red ticket winner had an analysis of 64.8DM, 12.1ME and 14.7CP.

Robin Campbell of Cally Mains, Castle Douglas won 2018 young farmers section.

The 2019 competition will see prizes worth over £5000 awarded, courtesy of Watson Seeds.

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