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Goat farmers from Abergavenny claim top Big Bale silage award for 2020-21

Goat farmers from Abergavenny claim top Big Bale silage award for 2020-21

As with everything in life over the last 12 months, the all-Wales big bale silage competition was also very different to normal this year.  

Judges simply asked the five regional winners, in addition to the normal paperwork, to supply some specific photos and videos to support their entries.  The judging panel - Dr Dave Davies (Silage Solutions); Stuart Anthony, (BPI Agri – sponsor); and Keith Williams, Haverhill Farm, Spittal, Haverford West (2019-20 Big Bale Silage Competition Winner) all sat down individually to assess the entries, and all three in unison had come to the same conclusion on the winner.  

The award this year, which is sponsored by BPI Agri (Silotite) goes to Gary and Jess Yeomans, Pantfarm, Llanvertherine, Abergavenny – members of Monmouthshire Grassland Society. 

Dave Davies, technical judge said “These were stand out winners both in terms of silage quality but also the value they were getting from their preserved forages.  They have an impressive goat dairying system with conserved forage at the heart of the system.  Ensiling not only grass but also utilizing lucerne grass mixtures into their silage system.” Gary and Jess farms 100 ha at 300ft asl. The goat farm has approx 900 goats and are the approved suppliers of goat milk to The Abergavenny Creamery. They also keep 20 Welsh black suckler cows with calves; 20 store cattle; and 38 beef calves and young stock under 24 months;.

They had three harvesting cuts (May, June and August) with last year totalling over 450 bales – 50 tonnes of hay and 600 tonnes of maize.

A copy of Mr Yeomans entry clip can be found on the following link: https://youtu.be/wSXzct8Gnj4

Although they have contract baling, the rest of the harvesting work is done “in house” on the farm. The crop is cut with a Lely 2.8m mower and left over a wilting period of 24hrs before being baled with a New Holland Square Chopper.  Their big bale analysis showed DM 36.0%, CP 17.6, D-value 70.5, ME 11.3, and pH 4.6. 

Second place in the competition was Eilir Jones, Drem Ddu, Lampeter.  Second place was much more tightly fought but the judges felt that Mr. Jones just edged it over the other runners up both in terms of his outputs and farming system, the quality of his stock but also in the quality of his silage compared to the other finalists.

Drem Ddu is a South West facing 240 acre farm at 800ft asl. They stock 150 dairy cows along with 73 young stock.  They harvest three cuts per year (May, June/July and August/September).  The silage analysis was: DM 40.2%, CP 15.4, D-Value 71.9, ME 11.5, pH 4.6. 

The other finalists in the Competition were:

  • Rhydian Glyn, Rhiwgriafol, Talywern, Machynlleth (Bro Ddyfi Grassland Society); 
  • David Griffiths, Rhosson Ganol, St Davids, Haverfordwest (North Pembs. Grassland Society);
  • Thomas Jones, Fferm Y Goitre, Pwllheli (South Caernarfon Grassland Society).

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 22 Welsh Grassland Societies.