Clamp and Big Bale Silage Competitions 2016

9 July 2016

The 2016 all Wales clamp and big bale silage competitions run by the Royal Welsh Agricultural Society and the Federation of Welsh Grassland Societies, who is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year, has again seen some top quality silage produced by many 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 one of the most contested in the industry.

All Wales Clamp Silage Competition

The winner of the clamp competition, sponsored by Wynnstay Group PLC and supported by Agri Lloyd International Ltd, is Richard Phillips of Orton, Clarbeston Road, Pembrokeshire, a member of Narberth Grassland Society, the first society to be established in Wales, formed in May 1962.

This competition is open to all members of the 20 Welsh grassland societies. Five regional finalists then went through to the All Wales final which this year was judged by technical judge, John Evans, industry sponsor, Dr Huw McConochie and the 2015 winner, Andrew Reed. Whilst the quality of the silage is a key factor, the judges also visit each farm to assess clamp management and feeding practices amongst other efficiency markers.

Mr Philips’ winning silage was made predominantly from intermediate and late heading high sugar diploid ryegrasses and white clover mixtures. It analysed out at DM 30.6%, D-value 74.8%, ME 12.0 MJ/kg DM, and CP 14.2%.

Mr Philips runs a 230 cow dairy herd with an average milk yield of 8790 litres/cow, 4.23% butterfat and 3.33% protein. He also rears 30 beef cattle each year on the 170ha (420acre) south-facing unit, 250ft above sea level.  

Last year, 170 acres of grassland were taken for first cut (on 19 May), 150 for second (on 30 June) and 100 acres for third cut (on 11 August), giving a total tonnage of 2900t fresh weight (5.1t DM/ha at 30%DM). Grass was wilted for 24-36hrs and an additive used.

Technical judge, John Evans said: “The farm inspections were impressive and only found a forkful of waste between the five clamps examined on the five different farms. Efficient feeding procedures, careful rationing and good all round management were evident on each farm.”

“This made the decision very difficult with only a fraction of marks separating the competitors. However, careful deliberation of all the factors eventually led to Mr Richard Philips being judged the winner.”

This year the judges agreed there would be two joint runners up; Messrs ASL & CE Evans of Cwmwythig, Capel Bangor, Aberystwyth Ceredigion, a member of Aberystwyth Grassland Society, and Mr John Parry of Goitre Farm, Kerry, Newtown, Powys, a member of Upper Severn Grassland Society.

All Wales Big Bale Competition

The winner of the big bale competition, sponsored by BPI Agriculture (Silotite), is Morris Parry of Yr Orsedd, Pencaenewydd, Pwllheli, Gwynedd, a member of South Caernarfon Grassland Society.

The All Wales Big Bale competition has become very popular since its inception in 1996. It is open to all members of the 20 Welsh grassland societies, and has become a very challenging competition to win. This year’s competition was judged by a panel of three: Stuart Anthony, Huw Davies and Dr Dave Davies of Silage Solutions.

Mr Parry runs 50 suckler cows and 450 ewes on 600 acres of grassland, which is 600ft above sea level. His winning silage was from a single cut taken on 7 June and wilted for 24 hours before being baled with an additive. The operation was carried out by contractors who made 161 bales of silage from 30 acres of grassland. The silage analysis showed: 43.6% DM, D Value 75.1%, ME 12.0 MJ/kg CP 9.4%, pH4.3.

Judge, Dave Davies commented: “There was a good level of finalists this year to challenge the judges, and a good spread of different businesses across the ruminant sector. The silage composition of all the entries in the final was of very good quality, and so selecting the winner came down to the differences in the management of their silaging process.

“This year’s winner, Morris Parry paid very close attention to detail, maximising his production from a simple grass baled-silage system and keeping bought-in feed costs to a minimum.”

The runner-up is David Griffiths of Rhosson Ganol, St Davids, Pembrokeshire, a member of North Pembrokeshire Grassland Society.