Harvesting remaining fields posing problems
A potential solution to the problems faced by wet weather-hit arable and livestock producers in the west has been mooted by SAC Consulting.
The consulting division of SRUC says farmers suffering due to the wet weather should consider co-operating for mutual benefit.
“In areas suffering from the very wet autumn, many livestock producers are desperately short of forage to feed their stock through the coming winter,” said SAC Consulting beef adviser Basil Lowman.
“For arable producers, the problem is how to harvest their remaining fields of cereals and get the next crops successfully planted.”
He said a possible solution, which would benefit both livestock and arable farmers, was to harvest standing crops with a forage harvester fitted with a grain cracker.
“You preserve the forage in a pit with urea to produce a silage ‘replacer’ for livestock producers to feed to their stock over the coming winter,” said Mr Lowman.
“As cattle can digest whole oats, when harvesting them there would be no need to crack the grain.”
SAC Consulting said the system was very similar to the system used for urea treated whole crop. This is a common method used to conserve less mature grain crops before the development of grain crackers in modern forage harvesters.
Mr Lowman said this method had a proven his- tory of successfully preserving wet, leafy crops for stock feed over the winter months.
“The benefits would be a quick, single pass harvest for the arable producer and for the livestock producer a local source of quality roughage with minimal transport costs,” added Mr Lowman.
Earlier this month SAC Consulting issued a tranche of guidance to livestock producers on how best to deal with the wet weather problems.
It urged producers to plan ahead to ensure they have enough winter feed for their livestock.
In instances where forage shortages are on the horizon, producers were told to consider selling all calves and lambs as stores, and to cull any lean and barren females. They were told to consider away wintering options, and to strip graze silage ground which is too wet to cut and bale.
“Many producers are desperately short of forage to feed their stock”