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Pembrokeshire farmers snatch FWGS Silage Awards despite fierce competition throughout Wales

THE achievements of some of Pembrokeshire’s best farmers were celebrated this week with the Federation of Welsh Grassland Societies’ (FWGS) All-Wales Silage Awards going to two members of North Pembrokeshire Grassland Society.

The two Silage competitions are run in conjunction with RWAS and Sponsored by BPI Silotite and Wynnstay.

Despite fierce competition throughout Wales, Keith Williams, Haverhill Farm, Spittal won the FWGS Big Bale Competition, and Michael Williams, Fagwrfran East, Puncheston won the FWGS Clamp Silage Competition for 2020. Due to Covid-19 restrictions, the winners are yet to receive their awards, but the judges totally agreed on what both are very worthy winners.

The Big Bale competition sponsored by BPI Agriculture (Silotite), gave judges – Dr. Dave Davies, (Silage Solutions); Stuart Anthony (BPI Agri); and Alan Davies, Llys Farm, Denbigh (2019 competition winner), a very difficult task to pull apart the winners, since they felt that three were pushing more for production from forage-based systems.

These three were Keith Williams Haverhill Farm Spittal,  Marc Jones, Trefnant Hall, Welshpool, and Eurig Jenkins Pentrefelin, Talsarn. They were all running farming systems where forage be that freshly consumed or preserved provided the majority if not all of the feed.   After much deliberation, the winner was chosen as Keith Williams, who’s silage analysis was superior to all other finalists with 16.9 % Crude protein and metabolisable energy content of 11 MJ/kg DM.  Keith feeds zero concentrate winter or summer and contract rears dairy heifers from 1 year old to 1-month pre-calving when they return to the owner.  His system relies on high quality baled silage as the sole source of nutrition during the housing period, likewise, summer feeding is solely grazed grass.  The whole feeding and housing management system was simple but effective and his silage was devoid of any visible spoilage.

Judge Dave Davies commented “The efficiency of utilization and reduction in wastage improves each year. 2020 was the worst year for weather conditions in the last 15 years of judging and yet wastage was minimal.”

The judges failed to separate 2nd and 3rd places and so awarded Marc Jones Trefnant Hall and Eurig Jenkins, Pentrefelin as joint runners upwith Edward Jones, Parciau Home Farm, Marianglas, Anglesey and Richard Isaac, Mynachdy Farm, Ynysbwl, as very worthy Regional Winners.

This year’s All Wales Clamp Silage competition sponsored by Wynnstay also goes to Pembrokeshire. Lead Judge, John Evans expressed his satisfaction with reporting what “a privilege it was to judge this year’s competition”.

“We had two very good days, with a very difficult decision at the end … since all five finalists were very close.  We saw very well made and extremely well-stored silages. All the finalists were keen to get the best out of their forage and the result was a close decision.  The two days were made interesting by the range of techniques employed by the farmers, all of whom were determined to do a good job with their particular system.”However, the winner for 2020 is Michael Williams, Fagwrfran East, Punchestonwhilst David Lee Winnington Green, Middletown, Welshpool a very close runner-up.

Fagwrfran East is a 310-acre beef, dairy, and sheep farm. The farm sits 85% South facing at 750ft asl on free-draining acid loamy soil type. They milk 145 cows producing 11,300l/cow (4.1% Butterfat 3.5% Protein); as well as sheep and over 200 young beef and dairy stock.

135 acres were taken for the first cut, 110 as second and 100 acres of the third cut – Total tonnage ensiled 1995t. The analysis showed an ME of 12.7 and CP of 13.5%

Runner up entrant was David Lee, Winnington Green, Middletown, Welshpool.  The family has a 450 acres dairy and beef farm with 420 Dairy cows as well as 90 followers annually and 80 beef calves.  Tack ewes are taken for wintering. Yields are 5300l/cow (4.74% Butterfat 3.82% Protein).

Three cuts harvested last year (late April, June, and July) with 128 acres taken for the first cut, 136 for the second cut, and 111 acres for the third cut. Total tonnage ensiled 1665t. The analysis also showed excellent silage with ME of 12.0 and CP of 16.2%

The three other successful regional winners were Bryn  & William Jones, Ty Newydd Farm, Abersoch; Ben Williams of DR & AL Williams, Gwastod, Abermeurig, Lampeter; and Edward Williams, Pant-y-Cwcw Farm, Llanbadoc, Usk.

FWGS secretary Charlie Morgan said celebrating the achievements of the very best in Welsh farming would inspire others to raise the bar for the whole industry.  Mr. Morgan also paid tribute to the judges who had travelled the length and breadth of Wales to visit the competitors, and through treacherous weather and floods, spending hours on each farm, seeing these farming operations first hand. The COVID 19 pandemic has impacted greatly but our farmers continue to produce very high standards”

He also thanked the sponsors for their support, notably BPI Silotite, Wynnstay, and Agri Lloyd for providing the analysis service for both competitions.

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