Clamp and Big Bale Silage Competitions 2017

7 July 2017

The 2017 all Wales clamp and big bale silage competitions run by the Royal Welsh Agricultural Society and the Federation of Welsh Grassland Societies, 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 William Lawrence of Penycwm, Haverfordwest, Pembrokeshire, a member of North Pembrokeshire Grassland Society.

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 2016 winner, Richard Phillips. 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 Lawrence’s winning silage was made predominantly from intermediate and late heading ryegrasses mixtures diploid and tetraploid.  It analysed out at DM 30.2%, D-value 75.5%, ME 12.1 MJ/kg DM, and CP 16.1%.

Mr Lawrence runs a 300 cow dairy herd with an average milk yield of 6285 litres/cow, butterfat 4.17 % and protein, 3.42 %.  He also rears 150 beef cattle each year sold at 18-24 months and there is 170ha of Arable and 15ha of Lucerne grown on the 408ha (1008 acre) south-west facing unit, 250ft above sea level.

Last year, 73ha of grassland were taken for first cut, 61ha for second and 16ha for third cut.  First cut was made on 12 May, second cut on 23 June and third cut on 11 August, giving a total tonnage of 2940t fresh weight (5.9t DM/ha @30.2%DM).  Grass was wilted for 36-48hrs and an additive used. There was also a further 800t of dry cow forage and 750t of other forage grown.

Runner up, Gerald W Watkin is a member of Aberystwyth Grassland Society. His silage analysed out at: DM 31.2%, D-value 77.1, ME 12.3 MJ/kg DM, CP 12.6%.  Mr Watkins farm is 480 acres, which is 60 acres of arable forage crops and the rest down to grass, and altitude is 250ft asl with southerly aspect.  Mr Watkins milks 275 cows and there is a flock of 375 ewes. The dairy herd averages 8696 litres/cow, butterfat 3.96% and 3.21% for protein. Three cuts were taken over an area of 183 acres and a fourth cut over 50 acres. 

The All Wales Clamp Silage competition has been running since 1979.

All Wales Big Bale Competition

The winner of the big bale competition, sponsored by BPI Agriculture (Silotite), is Paul Williams of Nebo, Llanrwst, Conwy, a member of Aberconwy 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, Gwyn Parry and Dr Dave Davies of Silage Solutions.

On his farm, Mr Williams runs 45 suckler cows and 550 ewes on 310 acres of grassland, which is 900ft above sea level. The winning silage was from a single cut taken first week of July and wilted for 24 hours before being baled. Other than the mowing, the operation was carried out by contactors.  The silage analysis showed: 31.4% DM, D Value 65.0, ME 10.4 MJ/kg CP 15.4%, pH 4.9.

Joint runners up are Keith Williams from Spittal, Haverfordwest, Pembrokeshire, a member of North Pembrokeshire Grassland Society and Andrew Lewis from Newport, Pembrokeshire, a member of Cardigan and District Grassland Society.

Mr Keith Williams runs 92 bulling and in calf dairy heifers on his 190-acre farm along with up to 850 tack store lambs over winter. Four cuts of silage were taken: 7 May, 15 June, 1 August and 14 September, allowed to wilt for 48-60 hours before being baled. The silage entered into the competition analysed out at: DM 53.7%, D Value 72.4, ME 11.6 MJ/kg, CP 10.4%, pH 5.0.

Mr Lewis runs 90 dairy cows and 1230 ewes plus followers/replacements on his 400 acre unit. Two cuts are taken between June and August. Crop is wilted for 24hrs.  The silage analysis was: DM 23.8%, D Value 66.0, ME 10.6 MJ/kg, CP 15.2%, pH 4.6.

Lead judge Dave Davies commented: “All finalists this season were very close in many aspects of their silage production. All were using six layers of wrap and fully focused on storage quality of their bales. No visible waste was seen on any of the bales we opened. It was therefore agreed that we had joint runners-up when the whole system and process was compared.

“However, the winner, Mr Paul Williams, impressed us greatly with the efficiency of his system and meeting the requirements of the livestock.  He monitored the performance of the stock, selecting the genetics of his breeding flock to suit the system and adopting dairy cow electronic technology for his suckler cow herd.

“This improved utilization of the forages, improved conception rates and the overall efficiency on the farm. This made him an obvious standout winner of a good group of competitors.”