31 July 2019
Best in class

Irish organic farming student wins top prize

31 July 2019
HAWL bursaries

Bursaries offered for three-day homoeopathy courses



21 March 2019
In adversity, what are farmers doing to be more resilient?

Opportunities, barriers and constraints in organic techniques helping to improve the sustainability of conventional farming

Feeding Livestock from the Farm, On-Farm Feed Processing

Three presentations and two important messages: At present, the UK is very dependant on imported feedstuffs but it doesn’t have to be this way! Work done at two research sites in UK has demonstrated that it is possible to increase the proportion of home grown protein and that monogastrics can perform well on greater amounts of feed from the farm

(Most of the information shared at this workshop deviated from the title and looked at producing poultry feed from the compounder's perspective but, had the original line-up of speakers been present to personally deliver their presentations, the workshop material would have done greater justice to the subject!)Martin Humphreys of Humphreys Seeds Ltd who supplies poultry feed to flocks numbering between 400 and 75,000 birds described the issues behind formulating rations for meat and laying birds. Sourcing ingredients required purchasing feed from Ukraine (wheat), China (soya) and Italy (sunflowers), and some wheat from the UK! (UK grain available to compounders is usually rejected milling wheat and inconsistent both in availability and quality) Meeting the 95% requirement has not created insurmountable problems and hasn't compromised the quality of the ration; synthetic essential amino acids can still be added but the 100% organic ration requirement of 2012 will require nutritional compromises especially for table birds during the early growth stages and birds coming into lay. Prices will increase and production will fall as could poultry welfare because if the essential amino acid profile isn't correct, birds will supplement their diet from within the flock (cannibalism!).

The other two presentations had the common theme of increasing self sufficiency, with one area of research looking at bi-cropping lupins with either spring sown wheat or triticale and the other experimenting with different inclusion rates of home grown wheat in poultry and pig rations. The final presentation was based on work done at Sheepdrove and encouragingly demonstrated that including up to 30% home grown feed in table bird rations had no significant difference as did increasing the wheat or triticale content to 50% in pig finishing diets. Both monogastric enterprises can deliver good production figures on lower amounts of imported ingredients.

Discussions raised the following relevant points:

  • Arable growers must not be fixated on organic cereals selling for twice the amount of conventional; farmers must look at cost of production and profit.
  • Until producers request more home grown raw materials, the organic arable sector won't grow.

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