Wednesday 7th August saw Southern Farmers Ltd and ForFarmers hold their annual information morning, this time held at Elliotts Farm, with kind permission from Graham Mackenzie. The topic on the agenda this year: - making the most of your grass. Titled Foundation for Profit, ForFarmers experts from all over the country gathered, holding a series of short demonstrations on topics such as colostrum and soil analysis.
The excellent weather did result in a few last minute withdrawals, it is always tricky to find a time of year which is suitable to all, but it also enabled us to get out into the fields, study the soil, and even try some clover. The morning started with a discussion from Graham regarding the management of his 1000 ewes. He discussed how he had thought up his business model, and how he has adapted over the years to keep his business successful. It was this discussion that led me to ask Graham to be my final member profile in this month’s newsletter, so do keep an eye out for that.
We started with an overview from James Hague FF Sales Manager, who has just returned to the UK after spending years farming and advising in New Zealand. A wealth of knowledge, James demonstrated to us the importance of quality forage, how to maximize daily weight gain, to finish the animal in an optimum time.
Chris Woodget, FF Forage Technical Specialist headed up the following discussion. We discussed PH levels of soils, and earthworm counts and how to improve the quality of your ley. Although the discussion ended rather abruptly with the arrival of a brief downpour, it was very informative, and Chris was able to answer all the questions members had.
In addition, Emily Hayes, FF Calf and Heifer Specialist, held a discussion on colostrum and introduced us to MS Colostro Balls. This set of 6 balls work on gravity density, and when thrown into colostrum, clearly demonstrate the quality of your colostrum. Slightly on the expensive side, but they could help identify how to improve the growth rate of your young stock.
Finally, Elizabeth Douglas, FF Blends Development Manager gave us an overview into the straights market, and how Brexit might affect future pricing. Of course, no one owns a crystal ball, but her advice was do not leave yourself short in the hope of a big overnight drop.
Before lunch, we were handed 15 unnamed samples to guess, with the prize of 6 bottles of wine to the winner. Congratulations to Peter Taylor, who correctly named the most samples! This was followed by a fantastic lunch at The Leicester Arms, in the heart of Penshurst.
We were all finished for about 2.30pm, and our farmers returned to their farms, I’m sure to get those mowers or combines rolling. We will hopefully be looking to run another meeting next year, covering a different topic, if this sounds like it could be of interest, please let Rachael know by emailing her at email@example.com. Thank you again to all at ForFarmers for putting on such an informative and interesting meeting, and to Graham Mackenzie for allowing us to hold the event at his farm. If you would like some more information on any of the topics discussed above, please contact Rachael and she will put you in contact with the relevant person.