Tuesday, 17 August 2010

Ragwort Totally Out of Control.....But Does Anyone Care?

"United We Stand, Divided We Fall" quote from Aesop (620BC-560BC).
You will see this is not a recent quote & it seems to have a grain of truth about it.
Yet... Dairy farmers in the UK appear to me to be totally incapable of working together. Go to France or Australia http://www.vff.org.au/main/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=13&Itemid=269 or New Zealand & dairy farmers stand shoulder to shoulder & fight for their industry. In the UK dairy farmers even the pasture based dairy farmers seem reluctant to work together. This is incredibly hard to work out.....why??
Pasture based dairy farmers are world wide a relatively small group but full of innovative creative people. Positive people who are exciting to be with. The pasture based Discussion groups which have transformed UK farm businesses, enthused owners & staff,lead the way to respectable profits & created exciting work environments.........they too want to "go their own way" splitting off into splinter groups isolated from each other. Why??

Sadly the UK dairy industry loses 1-2 farmers & their families every single day of the year as people continue to see no future for them in the UK dairy industry. Low input pasture based dairying can offer many of these families an alternative which would not only offer a profitable option but a sustainable longterm family business.

Will UK Dairy Farmers Stand & Fight????

Ragwort is totally out of control in public areas in every county of England & probably the rest of the UK too. The worst offenders are the Motorways, Highways & roadways......closely followed by the railways!

Does anyone really care??? It seriously threatens livestock farming!

It appears NOT.

Although I was very impressed by Robin Page's article in the Weekend Telegraph http://www.telegraph.co.uk/earth/earthcomment/country-diary/7941538/Country-diary-ragwort.html

He describes DEFRA very accurately as the "Dept For Ragwort Appreciation".
Do farmers realise that the Defra minister is issuing statements blaming farmers for the ragwort problem & threatening legal action? http://ww2.defra.gov.uk/2010/08/02/ragwort/
Calling on the "big society" to act when his own Govt departments are the worst offenders is a very sick joke. Sort your own departments out Minister!
Otherwise ragwort will become a very serious threat to every livestock farmer & ALL pasture based dairy farmers.
Defra does provide advice on ragwort & even complaint forms (Got to tick the boxes!). If you REALLY care perhaps you too could download a complaint form & send it to Defra....let me know the outcome!

Robin Page suggests you ring Natural England Ragwort Complaint phone lines. Let me know how you get on as I'm hoping dairy farmers from every county ring in to complain not only about the Motorways & Railways but also about Natural Englands' blatantly obvious "We haven't done a bloody thing about Ragwort"
Reading 0300 060 4994
Worcester 0300 060 1278
Cambridge 01223 533588
Leeds 0300 060 4180

Ragwort is symptomatic of the apathy amoungst dairy farmers. It is a serious threat to livestock including youngstock yet dairy farmers wont act as a group (or pasture based dairy farm discussion groups group) to get the Minister & his depts to act on the public roads & railways across the UK.
Back to Victoria Australia the United Dairyfarmers of Victoria (UDV)...the current President Chris Griffen (a member of a progressive pasture based dairyfarm Discussion Group) now leads all dairyfarmers in that state....the UDV is recognised as a "force to be reckoned with...". Chris organised this year's UDV conference around the topic...."Earning Respect & Influence...."
What is it in the British culture that prevents us from working together? Why wont dairyfarmers stand together! I thought the P2P groups might help to change the rural culture but we've fallen well short.

Pasture Growth Rates
Northern Ireland Cover 2346kgs DM/ha, 58kgDM/ha/day growth, 21 day grazing rotation (24litres/cow with 3kg conc)
Dumfries 2170, 66kgs, 28days (rain every 3-4 days, cover on target)
Nth Wales 2300, 90kgs
Nth Wales 2300, 65kgs, quality pasture no suppl, cow condition improving
Cheshire 2150, 58kgs, 21 days
Cheshire 2250, 67kgs, 24 days cutting silage reduces cover to 2000
Cheshire organic 2250, 40kgs, 42 days (dung pats strong topping)
Shropshire 228, 46kgs, 35 days need rain
Staffordshire, 2385, 40kgs, 35 days turnips by night, silage above 2800
Leicestershire growth 22kgs, 30 days(feeding full TMR, winter kale failed dry)
Herefordshire 2250, 50kgs(demand 45), 30days no suppl
Gloucestershire 2330, 40kgs, 30 days good response to rain
Gloucestershire 2400, 50kgs, 30 days
SW Wales Organic 2469, 43kgs(35 demand) VG grass quality
Somerset Organic 2050, 30kgs, 45days expect growth to 2X with rain
Dorset 2040, 20kgs, 60 days struggling for growth
Dorset 2050, 42kgs, 50 days (demand 24 with conc feeding)
Hampshire 1859, 22kgs, 45 days full feeding
Devon 2300, 45kgs, 50 days no buffer feed yet
Cornwall 2200, 40kgs, 36 days no suppl still OAD ...lungworm problems
Rotorua NZ 2300, 20kgs, 40 days Spring calving, 56% in 3 weeks, 120mm rain at weekend
If there is surplus grass do you really need to silage it? What about deferring?
What do you think?


  1. what is defered we have already made some silage covers were 2300 are now 2050 and building

  2. Deferred pasture is normally pasture that is relatively long (cutting it for silage is one option)that is stored for another 30, 60 days before grazing as a crop. This usually requires mowing either before or after. If deferring is done during the ryegrass flowering then one consequence of deferring is a massive seed bank being produced...natural reseeding. If the deferring decision is post ryegrass heading then the quality is maintained relatively well for sometime before grazing. Deferred pasture is often used by either dry cows, heifers or late lactation cows.