Fields trials begin on new TB test

The Animal and Plant Health Agency in England has confirmed that field trials have begun on a new skin test that is able to differentiate between cattle that are vaccinated for TB and those that are reactor animals.

To date this has not been possible, and if proven, it would represent a major breakthrough against the disease.

A TB-free farm in Hertfordshire has commenced the first phase of the trials to determine the safety and accuracy of the skin test, with further herds across England and Wales to join them over the coming months.

If successful, the study will then be expanded to more farms in England and Wales as part of its second phase, to test both the use of the vaccine and the skin test together.

Farmers asked to complete leatherjacket survey

A survey has been made available on the AgriSearch website which asks a range of questions regarding leatherjacket presence in grassland and any techniques employed to control the problem.

The survey is the first step in a range of activities planned as part of a European Innovation Partnership (EIP) project looking at the issue. The project is due to run to June 2023.

The key objective of the work is to determine the factors that influence leatherjacket prevalence on farm and propose a range of strategies than can be undertaken to reduce the risk of infestation.

Johnson named best young farmer

Richard Johnson from Randalstown YFC is the overall winner of the Ulster Young Farmer competition sponsored by Danske Bank.

Second overall was Mitchell Park, Glarryford YFC with third place awarded to Judith Laughlin, Kilrea YFC.

In the junior section the winner was Lois McCurdy, Moycraig YFC, with Joshua McClements, Ballywalter YFC taking the top spot in the Under 21 category, and Jack Johnson from Randalstown YFC named as the best 25- to 30-year old.

Holstein calves sell to 14,000gns

A three-month-old heifer calf sold to a massive 14,000gns at the Summer Sizzler Sale of elite genetics in Ballymena on Saturday evening.

Bred by Simon Haffey and Joshua Ebron, the March-born Glasson Ebron Moo Jo Irene is bred from a twice world and European Red and White Holstein breed champion.

The sale, conducted by Taaffe Auctions, saw the cream of NI dairy genetics forwarded. Other stand out prices saw 8,400gns paid for first choice of a heifer calf due in January 2022 from one of three in-calf heifers. See pedigree coverage.

Glenpark Suffolks make top of 1,600gns

Pedigree shearling ewes sold to a top price of 1,600gns at the on farm dispersal sale of Glenpark Suffolks on Friday evening.

Ewe lambs sold to a top price of 1,000gns with breeding ewes peaking at 900gns, followed by 700gns paid for the dam of the sale topping shearling. Overall, the sale saw 61 animals sold to an average £620gns.

The flock, owned by Richard and Selina Beattie, Omagh, was dispersed due to the increased workload with various business ventures.

DAERA short of staff at ports

In an answer to a question submitted by Ulster Unionist Agriculture spokesperson, Rosemary Barton, Agriculture Minister Edwin Poots has revealed the extent of DAERA staff shortages at NI ports.

There are currently 143 staff based at the NI ports assisting with the implementation of the Protocol. That leaves 43 DAERA posts not filled. Included within that are 15 vet vacancies out of 29.

“Many of our businesses are suffering terribly with added work and bureaucracy due to the Protocol. This level of additional demand on the local civil service is a further unnecessary burden on our society,” said Barton.

New Zealand lamb production falls

Total lamb production in New Zealand fell by 2% from October 2020 to May 2021, according to analysis from the Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board (AHDB).

During the outlined six month period, the lamb kill slipped to 15.2m head on the back of dry weather curtailing grass growth and an easing in market prices.

This has been offset by higher than normal ewe numbers slaughtered.

Again, drought has seen more of the NZ adult ewe flock being dispersed with 3.3m animals processed. It means that total sheepmeat production during the outlined period is 5,600t higher year on year.

UK sexed semen sales double

Sales of sexed semen to UK dairy herds has doubled, a survey of breeding companies by AHDB shows.

In the 12-month period ending 2021, 64.5% of dairy semen sales were sexed compared to 31.9% during the previous year. In 2017, sexed semen accounted for just 17.9% of sales.

The survey results indicated 45.3% of total semen sales to dairy herds in the year ending March 2021 were beef sires, a sharp increase on the 33.3% back in 2017.

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