All Wales Royal Welsh silage competitions

21 July 2014

The 2014 all Wales clamp and big bale silage competitions run by the Royal Welsh Agricultural Society and the Federation of Welsh Grassland Societies, once again saw some top quality silage produced by some of the best silage growers from across Wales.

Silage is key to the production of meat and milk on many Welsh farms, and the competition is the most contested in the industry.

The winner of the clamp competition, sponsored by Wynnstay Group PLC, was Philip and Roger Lewis of Poyerston Farm, Cosheston, Pembroke, members of the Cleddau Grassland Society.

Their analysis showed excellent energy produced from ‘High D’ ryegrass mixtures and was DM 30.9%, D Value 73, ME 11.7, CP 14.8 and pH 3.9.

The Lewis’ have a 260 cow dairy herd and 180 young stock and followers on their 350 acre unit, 120ft asl with a northerly aspect. Messrs Lewis also winter 700 sheep from October to 15 January which they find invaluable in providing a clean even sward at turnout.

180 acres are taken for first cut, 110 as second and 80 acres of third cut. Alongside the grass silage is 55 acres of maize.  Total ensiled forage yield is 3,360t fresh. First cut taken 19 May, 1 July for second and third 25 August. Wilting is between 24 – 36 hours depending on cut and additive used across all cuts. Messrs Lewis use contractors, except for tedding and a second tractor on the clamp, the operation is complete within two days.

The runner-up was A S L & C E Evans & Sons of Cwmwythig, Capel Bangor, Aberystwyth, Ceredigion, a member of Mid Cardigan Grassland Society.

The winner of the big bale competition, sponsored by BPI Agriculture (Silotite), was Mr E Evans of E Evans a’i Gwmni, Ty Nant, Talybont, Aberystwyth, Ceredigion, member of the Aberystwyth Grassland Society.

The Evans’ farm 815 acres at 980ft above sea level. They are a mixed beef and sheep farm, stocking 50 pedigree Welsh Black cows keeping their own replacement heifers and finishing the remainder to Dovecote Park. There is a flock of 1600 Welsh Mountain ewes; 400 ewe lambs for replacements and the remainder sold finished to Dunbia.

Two cuts of silage bales are taken; 150 acres first cut and 80 acres second with a chopper baler. Analysis showed DM 42.7%, D Value 70, ME 11.2, CP 19.7 and pH 5.1.  Dr Davies, one of the three judges, commented that “The Evans family had the edge not only because of their use of red clover within the silage making enterprise to increase his home grown protein feeding, but also with efficient use of machinery on the farm and feeding.”

The All Wales Big Bale Competition was very closely fought again this year with very little between the top three.  The three judges, Mrs Kate Collette, BPI, Mr Chris Clayton 2013 Winner and Dr Dave Davies of Silage Solutions agreed that the top three finalists made the judges think hard about their decision.  In the end it came down to just a few specific details of the entire silage management process from field to feed-out and beyond.

Dr Davies said “To become the winner the entrants should increasingly consider the efficiency of the process within the entire farming enterprise. Many of the finalists this year had done that”. 

The runner-up was Mr D Ll Williams of Tyn Rhos, Gwalchmai, Holyhead, Ynys Mon, Gwynedd, a member of Anglesey Grassland Society.