Report on faecal egg count workshop

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This was held on Saturday 23rd November at Doug and Wendy,s holding in Henllan Amgoed. Peat Gleed held the workshop, bringing along microscopes and everything else necessary for us to examine the poo samples we had all brought. We looked at calf, sheep, goat, horse and even chicken poo samples. Nobody had a cause for concern with an overwhelming worm burden. The most common eggs to be seen were Strongyles, but none of us, it seemed needed to reach for the wormer on getting home.

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It is important when doing these faecal egg counts that the samples are as fresh as possible ie. they are picked up as soon as excreted. Those that attended found it extremely interesting and big thanks go out to Peat for giving his time, expertise and equipment, and also to Doug and Wendy for providing us with a venue.

By Claire Beddoes

DSA AGM 12th Feb

DSA’s Annual General Meeting will be held next month, and we’d really like you to be there! Whilst I appreciate that AGMs might not seem to be the most interesting of our meetings, they are perhaps the most important. This is your Association, and this is your chance to have your say.  You’ll get to hear how the year has gone, and be a part of electing a new committee. If you would like to be part of the committee then come along, and make yourself known! The meeting is on the 12th of February  at the normal time and place, 8.00PM, The Gremlin Club, Carmarthen.

Seedy Saturday, 8th March

This year’s Seedy Saturday Green Fayre will be held on the 8th March 10am-3pm in St Peter’s Hall, Nott Sq, Carmarthen SA31 1PG. It’s a great opportunity for local gardeners to get together to swap their saved seeds & knowledge before the growing season gets underway. There will be lots of ethical & Fairtrade stalls & products as well as some short skill-sharing demonstrations. Tools for Self Reliance Cymru will be selling their range of quality reconditioned garden, green woodworking & misc tools. Food available from Carmarthen’s Caffi Iechyd Da. Entry is free. More information can be found on our Facebook page under Seedy Saturday Carmarthen.

26th of Jan, 12PM, Christmas Lunch. In January as usual.

Just to remind you all that we are holding the New Year Lunch at The Hollybrook Country Inn, Bronwydd, Carmarthen. SA33 6BE. Two courses will cost £12.95 and three courses will cost £14.45. Please book your places with either Liz Phillips at Blackwelshsheep@hotmail.com or 07855 516367 or with Claire Beddoe on 01558 685753 or at bodblu@yahoo.co.uk If you want to come along, PLEASE LET US KNOW THIS WEEK! Look forward to seeing you there.

January Meeting

arcA happy new year to all our members! The first talk of the new Year comes from Mark Barber of the Amphibian And Reptile Conservation Trust. This is a national wildlife charity committed to conserving amphibians and reptiles and saving the disappearing habitats on which they depend. This should be a fascinating talk, and will hopefully give us all ideas on how we can make our holdings more friendly to these creatures.

The talk is at the normal time and place; The Gremlin Club, Carmarthen, at 8:00 PM on Wednesday the 8th of January. See you there!

Report On Christmas Social

The meeting in December was our Christmas Social. Attendance was down which was a little disappointing, (for those that didn’t turn up), as the communal table was overflowing with a scrumptious selection of quality food and much fun was had by all. Jon Bayley compiled a quiz for the evening which had us all digging deep into our brains for the answers, and the winner of the bottle of wine was Madge Pratt. Then the real excitement started…the Horse Racing!! Doug had made a fantastic racecourse and horses especially for the night, so big thanks to Doug, as this provided alot of fun for us all. Here are the results:-
RACE 1 Novices…… 1st Jim Mulvaney, 2nd Joan Allcock, 3rd Joan Hinds.
RACE 2 Hurdles……..1st Madge Pratt, 2nd Claire Beddoe, 3rd Joan Hinds.
RACE 3 Gremlin Club Steeplechase…….1st Amanda Bailey, 2nd Stephen Kirkwood, 3rd Liz Phillips.hr1

Report On November Meeting

November’s speaker was Rita Jones. Rita is the Welsh Government’s Farm Liaison Officer, and she came to tell us about the kind of ‘official’ issues that smallholders have to deal with. Rita covered a number of payment schemes updating us on what is changing, how it might change and when we should expect any alterations to the system. There were also many tips and suggestions to assist all smallholders and farmers at inspection time.

There was good news for the Single Payment scheme, processing rates in 2013 are 89%. Don’t forget, the sooner you apply, the sooner your claim will be processed. In 2014 the Trading scheme will remain unchanged, however they are expecting that the 2015 Trading entitlement will be completely different.

Rita talked in some details about Cross Compliance, reminding us that any failure to comply will result in penalties. Cross Compliance applies to all current schemes – so we need to make sure we all understand the requirements. On the subject of Farm Inspections, it was surprising to hear that failure rates were so high for cattle inspection. Common failure points were not recording movements, death, and missing tags.

Tips to ensure you pass included;
– Obtaining regular printouts of animals on holding (the office are happy to print these for
you)
– Maintain up to date records
– Check passport details, add barcode, and sign to comply with tagging requirements
– Check missing tags

Whilst failure rates for sheep and goats were much lower, they were usually linked to:
– No stock – take figures
– Not recording births/id/deaths/replacement tags
– Not keeping records up to date,
– Incomplete flock book/ inventory.

Tips for passing your inspection included;
– Have a supply of tags
– Use the correct tag and tag within time limits
– Make sure your records are up to date
– Make sure copies of movement licences are available
– Provide supporting evidence available for any deaths
– Number of sheep on holding (belonging to business)

In 2014 there will be additional information required in the inventory. You do not need to use the Welsh Government flock book, but make sure all the information is available. In future when you submit your inventory you will be given a receipt. Keep this! All the information for the inventory is on the licences so keep copies; this information is important for your inspection, but insufficient on its own, so make sure your inventory is up to date. So far the inspections have taken a ‘softly -softly’ approach to electronic tagging, but this will change as increased use of electronic tags are seen in flocks. England is currently having a consultation on the possibility of a national Sheep Database. The outcome of this is likely to have an influence on the Welsh Government’s thinking about a sheep database here.

Pesticide use record-keeping is causing problems for a lot of farmers at the moment. Rita informed us that even small areas sprayed with a knapsack sprayer need to be included in your records, and come 2014/15, ALL users of pesticides and herbicides will need to have received training (Like Lantra’s course) in application. The caveat here is Grandfather rights; If you were born before 1964 you should be OK, but watch this space…

Rita said that record keeping and information would inevitably be moving towards more hi-tech solutions, such as the phone and the internet. As some of you will know, all pig records are now on-line; there is no paper format available, and it is likely that this template will be used for ALL required records. She was hopeful that using up-to-date technology may make compliance easier. Glastir will be reviewed in 2014. Currently there are three levels; Entry, Advance and Efficiency.

To be in Glastir you must have a minimum of three hectares, have full management of all eligible land for five years (this can include tenancy) and meet the points threshold for the business/farm. Points are gained for; landscape features, habitats, arable, crop management for arable, and historical features. You need to be in Entry level in order to be considered for Advanced level. Being selected for this scheme can depend on Welsh Government priorities at that time, but may include soil carbon management, water quality, water quality management, biodiversity, historic environments, and improving access. Efficiency grants are open to all on Glastir Entry Level, for heat generation, energy efficiency, water efficiency and manure/slurry efficiency. The 2015 packs are currently being put together, so if you’re interested, register with the Divisional Office. Under the Common Agriculture Policy (CAP) changes were due to be implemented on 01.01.14 but this has been delayed, so no changes for 2014. It is looking like there will be a new system in 2015 with the basic payment making up 70% and Greening payment 30%. You will no longer need to be in Glastir to qualify for this. Rita thought most Welsh farmers will qualify for this under the category of 75% permanent pasture, or if using an organic system. The document is currently under consultation (looking at topics such as transition time, definition of an Active farmer, rates, and trading of entitlements), and this is due to end on 30.11.13. The draft document is available on their website so make sure you get your comments in.

Further moves to online services are coming from Rural Payments Wales (RPW). Everybody needs to be online by 2016, but the system will be available from 2014. Everyone in receipt of Single Payments is being encouraged to get an Activation Code so they can take advantage of RPW online. In 2014 a hard copy will be made available, but if you submit online you will no longer be offered the paper copy. Feedback from farmers is that it’s simple to use. Advantages include being able to liaise with the Divisional office online for validation, and reducing the likelihood of incomplete forms being submitted.

Whilst the Gwlad magazine is now only published bimonthly, have a look at Gwladonline.org. This has all the information from the print version, and much, much more. It’s a helpful, easy-to-read way to stay up to date for all smallholders.

Rita ending by telling us that help is available – don’t be afraid to talk to the team or drop into the office, whether you want advice, or think you might have a problem – seek help sooner rather than later. The team are there to share concerns, to help and to guide. The number for the Carmarthen team is 01267 225300.

 

By Amanda Bayley

Report on October meeting

brompton_hedgelayingThe meeting in October was a talk by Mr Tom Duxbury from the Tywi Centre at Dinefwr Farm, on hedges and hedglaying.

Hedges are vitally important. They are an important habitat and provide food, shelter and breeding sites for a wide range of wildlife including nationally scarce species such as the Dormouse and the brown hairstreak butterfly. They also provide corridors which link different habitats, along which wildlife can travel. However, hedges need looking after: hedge-laying is the traditional method of stopping hedges from becoming a row of trees and providing a stock-proof barrier around fields. Hdege-laying involves cutting through the base of the stem, until only the cambium layer remains attached. At this point the stem is ‘laid’ (lent over). The effect of this is that the plant stays alive, but according to the rules of gravity, starts putting shoots out from the now nearly horizontal main stem.

So, when is the best time to undertake hedge-laying? When you need to, is the answer, but there are a couple of provisos. If a hedge has been layed, it will probably need re-doing in about 5-7 years depending on the weather, and the species. If you’re under a grant scheme, hedge laying can only be carried out between the 1st of September and the end of February. If you don’t claim these payments you can undertake hedge work 365 days a year so long as you don’t disturb nesting birds which is against the law.

In the interest of biodiversity, only cut back any bramble, or other climbing growth where this impedes laying operations. Hedges should be left for 2/3 yrs so fr its are produced as they are seasonal and don’t necessarily fruit every year. Tools normally used for laying hedges are the chainsaw, a billhook, axe, hatchet, and saw.

Sometimes, hedges are too big or too gappy to consider laying, so you’ll need to look at some other options. Coppicing is an ancient system of tree management that makes use of the ability of many broad-leaved trees and shrubs to produce new shoots from a cut stem or trunk. Coppicing is often done when the stems are too big to lay. This involves cutting the stem off cleanly, 6/8 inches off floor. This will produce a large amount of new growth, and at the same time, the hedge can be replanted to improve its growtth. Certain species such as blackthorn can produce suckers that will naturally fill these areas. In such circumstances, it may be worth waiting for the results of any re-growth before planting up gaps between coppice stools. Where gaps require re-planting they should be thoroughly cleared of vegetation. This will allow the new plants sufficient light to establish. Holly is a suitable species for gapping up below hedgerow trees where light levels may be low. Gapping up and new planting can be carried out in the winter months from November to March.

Where a new hedge is to be planted it is advisable to cultivate the soil the previous summer and in poorer soils, some well-rotted manure may be incorporated. Local common trees and shrubs should be used in a mix of at least five hedging species, with no one component of mix comprising more than 75% of the local native species that reflect the character of your area. New hedge plants can be grown from seed or cuttings (these are specialist techniques) or purchased as transplants from a nursery. Plants should be 45-60 cms high with a well-developed root system and a strong leader shoot. Planting stock derived from locally collected seed or cuttings is preferable as this is likely to survive better and support more species of native wildlife. During planting, it is essential that all roots are kept damp. Gaps and new hedgerows should be planted at a density of 5-8 plants per metre in a staggered double row with 45cm between each row. To encourage new growth the transplants should be trimmed back. Subsequent management should ensure that the plants are kept clear of weeds and watered liberally in dry spells until established. Any dead plants must be replaced. Mulching retains soil moisture, reduces weed growth and reduces competition for water and nutrients. Grant funding is unfortunately short term and doesn’t continue for the life of things done, so can be more detrimental than helpful.

The Tywi Centre provides education/training courses and these will run up to March 2014.

By Liz Phillips.

Faecal Egg Count Advice & training 23rd November, 2PM

faecal-eggOn Saturday 23rd November at 2pm, Peat Gleed is holding a Faecal Egg Count Workshop at Doug and Wendy’s holding. Please bring a few samples from your own stock (sheep/cattle/chickens…whatever) and you’ll be able to study them under a microscope and you will be able to judge whether you need to worm your stock or not. This is a fantastic opportunity for us all as, not only will it be very interesting, but to ask a vet to do this for us can cost a substantial amount. It is very generous of Peat to give his time and equipment, and big thanks to Doug and Wendy for giving us a place to hold it.