Clamp and Big Bale Silage Competitions 2018

17 July 2018

The 2018 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 Chris Edwards (R D Edwards & Son) of Pwllywrach Farm, Colwinston, Cowbridge, a member of Glamorgan Grassland Society.

This competition is open to all members of the 21 Welsh grassland societies. Five regional finalists then go through to the All Wales final which this year was judged by technical judge, John Evans, industry sponsor, Dr Huw McConochie and the 2017 winner, William Lawrence from Pembrokeshire.

The judging panel agreed that Pwllywrach Farm as a whole package, is well managed within a very tidy system.  Whilst the analyses on the quality of the silage (tested by Agri-Lloyd) is important, the judges also visit each farm to assess clamp management and feeding practices amongst other efficiency markers.

All judges were totally satisfied that the winning combination demonstrated how to make the best and most appropriate use of the fodder available; and the growth rates and weight gains achieved by feeding only 3kg of barley per day with excellent combination of grass silage, whole crop and lucerne silages were very impressive.

Pwllywrach Farm (tr. Witches Pool Farm) has the perfect potion for feeding the 140 sucklers, 350 growing and finishing cattle and the 1800 ewe flock.  The farm is situated in the Vale of Glamorgan, sitting 80m above sea level on a south-westerly aspect.

The foundation of the winter ration analysed at DM 34.9%, D-value 72.7%, ME 11.6 MJ/kg and CP 12.1% showing high intake levels and a very well made crop.

150 acres was taken for first cut on the 14th of May - the crop was wilted for 24hrs and the ensiling process completed in a day. There was a second cut of 75 acres and a third cut of 50 acres taken making up a total 1650t. The additional extras grown on the farm are 100 tonnes of Hay and the protein crops of 75t Lucerne and 75t Red Clover silages and Wheat Straw. These ingredients are mixed in a Triolet 20 cubic metre tub mixer to provide the correct diet for each enterprise.

Runner up, Richard Morris of Bowett Farm, Hundleton is a member of Cleddau Grassland Society. Bowlett Farm is a 500 acre farm with 430 dairy cows, 4 bulls, and 250 young stock. The foundation of the winter ration analysed at DM 34.5%, D-value 75.5%, ME 12.1 MJ/kg and CP 17.1%.

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 Mark Evans of Treglemais Fawr, Solva, Haverfordwest, a member of North Pembrokeshire 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 21 Welsh grassland societies, and has become a very challenging competition to win. This year’s competition was judged by a panel of three: Dr Dave Davies of Silage Solutions; Mr Stuart Anthony (BPI Agriculture (Silotite)); and last year’s winner, Mr Paul Williams.  

Mark farms 850 acres at 100m above sea level. The beef and finishing farm has 180 beef cattle along with 500 calves/young stock under 24 months; and 50 over 24 months.

He has five harvesting cuts, with last year totalling over 3000 bales.

All harvesting work is done “in house” on the farm. The crop is cut with a Class 3050c mower and left over a wilting period of 36-48hrs before being baled with a McHale Fusion 3 baler. Mark’s big bale analysis showed DM 51.2%, CP 16.3, D-value 69, ME 11, and pH 4.9.

The Three main finalists represented a true cross section of Welsh Livestock agricultural with one dairy farm, one suckler beef/sheep farm and a beef rearing and finishing unit and had a good feel for their production costs and outputs. Judging the winner gave all three judges some thought provoking decisions to make.

Joint runners up are Alun & Emyr Evans of Penlanlas Isaf, Talsarn, Lampeter, members of Mid Cardiganshire Grassland Society and David Thomas of Penwern, Llanspyddid, Brecon, a member of Brecon Grassland Society.

Alun and Emyr Evans run a South facing 170 acre farm at 550ft asl. They stock 130 dairy cows along with 70 young stock. They harvest three cuts per year (May, June and August). The silage analysis was: DM 44.8%, CP 13.2, D-Value 71.5, ME 11.4, pH 4.8.

David Thomas runs a 350 acre East facing farm at 200m asl. He stocks 520 breeding ewes and 100 ewe lambs, along with 70 suckler cows and 42 young stock under 24 months. They harvest three times a year (May, June and July). The silage analysis was: DM 51.3%, CP 15.1, D-Value 68.4, ME 10.9, pH 5.3.

Lead judge, Dr Dave Davies commented: “The silage analysis on all finalist farms proved of very good quality, but the first three placed farmers had really challenged their businesses on the role of forage and especially silage in their production system, with a huge focus on the economic role of baled silage and the economics of it in their production systems.

“The winner Mark Evans, did edge ahead with excellent quality baled silage, with no visible waste on the bales opened during the visit, and with the majority of his live-weight gain in his beef production system being from silage only with additional rolled cereal supplementation only for his finishing steers. It really was a pleasure for all three judges to visit Mark’s farm and see his system in practice”.