[T]wo dairy farmers from Cumbria have netted £7,000 worth of prize money for producing some of the country’s best quality silage.
Steven Hunter of Berrier Head Farm, Penrith and Keith Rudd of The Grassings, Kirkbride, Wigton, Cumbria, were two of the winners in Agri-Lloyd’s silage competition, which saw their silage compete against 700 samples.
Steven Hunter, who farms with his wife Mandy, son Harry, dad Tony and mum Margaret milking 300 Holstein Friesian cows at Berrier Head, won the top prize of £6,000.
Cows yield 28l a day, with butterfats of 4.25% and protein of 3.26% and are fed 10-12t of silage across the 300 cows a day, with the addition of some cake and brewer’s grains.
“If the silage is not right, then we will suffer all winter,” said Mr Hunter.
Mr Hunter was picked as the overall winner, because of his excellent clamp management.
A shortlist of finalists were drawn from over 700 samples of grass analysed from across the UK. A point system was used to score the silage samples and the top 50 samples were analysed in greater detail.
Ten finalists were visited by a judging panel, which included James Ireland, dairy product manager at Agri-Lloyd, Dr Joe Youdan and independent judge David Hodgson, who has over 20 years of experience in the industry.
Mr Ireland said the clamp at Berrier Head was one of the best he’s ever seen.
“Every bit of the clamp was the consistent. It was well consolidated, there was no effluent and he is maximising every bit of the silage he is feeding to his cows.
“Mr Hunter has attention to detail and he understands what he can get from grass and is achieving it,” added Mr Ireland.
Mr Hunter said the secret to producing good quality silage was down to a number of factors, but mainly growing a good quality grass, cutting at the right time, getting consolation in the clamp and good clamp management.
“The secret is getting it [silage] rolled hard and getting a really tight compaction,” he says.
“You don’t want the clamp face to be too big. Ideally you need to get across the face in 2-3 days to keep the silage face fresh.”
The clamp at Berrier Head is 180ft long by 60ft wide and 12/14ft deep. “This is an ideal amount for the number of cows we have,” he said.
Runner up Messrs RK and CA Rudd and Son, Wigton, scooped £1,000 prize fund in the competition.