THIS years All-Wales Big Bale competition winner is mark Evans, Treglemais Fawr, Solva, Haverfordwest, a member of North Pembrokeshire Grassland Society.

The competition, sponsored by BPI Agriculture (Silotite) is becoming a very sought after award, and this year’s competition was no exception. After long deliberation, all three judges – Dr Dave Davies of Silage Solutions; Stuart Anthony (sponsors); and Paul Williams, Cae Haidd, Nebo, Llanrwst (2016/17 winner), were in unison that Mark Evans was the worthy winner.

Lead Judge Dave Davies said “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”.

Mark farms 850 acres at 100m asl. The beef and finishing farm has 180 beef cattle along with 500 calves/young stock under 24 months; and 50 over 24 months. The performance of his store and weaners are:
·         Weaned calves Avg. DLWG = 1.07kg/day

·         Stores / Finishing: Avg DLWG = 1.55 kg/day

He has five harvesting cuts (May, June, July, August, September and October) 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.

Dave added: “The Three main finalists represented a true cross section of Welsh Livestock agricultural with 1 dairy farm, 1 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.

The two joint runner-up finalists were:

·         ALUN & EMYR EVANS, PENLANLAS ISAF, TALSARN, LAMPETER – member of Mid Cardiganshire Grassland Society; and

·         DAVID THOMAS, PENWERN, LLANSPYDDID, BRECON – member of Brecon Grassland Society

Penlanlas Isaf is 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.

Whilst Penwern, Llanspyddid is a 350 acre East facing farm at 200m asl.  They stock 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.

The other two successful farmers to reach the final rounds were:

·     JOHN WILLIAMS, LLECHWEDD DDYRYS, TREFEGLWYS, NEWTOWN (Upper Severn Grassland Society)

·     TREVOR PRITCHARD (PRITCHARD BROS), YNYS FAWR, LLANERCHYMEDD, ANGLESEY (Anglesey Grassland Society)

and the judges would like to offer their congratulations to all finalists.

The All Wales Big Bale Silage Competition is run by the Federation of Welsh Grassland Societies in conjunction with the RWAS and sponsored by BPI Agriculture – manufacturers of Silotite balewrap. All competition entries are analysed courtesy of Agri-Lloyd, and the competition is open to all members of the 21 Welsh Grassland Societies.

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