NI extends deadline for slurry export forms
Farmers have one more month to declare movements of organic manure through a new DAERA online system.

Farmers in Northern Ireland have until midnight on 1 March to submit their manure export records for 2017 to Northern Ireland Environment Agency (NIEA), instead of the initial 31 January deadline.

The new submission tool is accessible online on the same website as CAFRE's nutrient management calculators.

DAERA has warned that farmers going through an agent to complete this process should act now as agent authorisation will take time to process. Forms to authorise an agent to declare your manure exports on your behalf are available online too.

Failure to submit manure movement forms in time will add the corresponding volumes to a farm's nitrogen loadings for the year and may push it over the limit, resulting in penalties.

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Poultry farmers warned over threat of Newcastle Disease
The disease last occurred in Northern Ireland in 1997 when 1.4m poultry were slaughtered. It is a notifiable disease.

Newcastle Disease has been detected in two commercial poultry premises in the East Flanders region of Belgium, prompting the Department of Agriculture (DAERA) in Northern Ireland to warn poultry farmers to maintain high biosecurity standards.

The disease last occurred in Northern Ireland in 1997 when 1.4m poultry were slaughtered. It is a notifiable disease.

DAERA has said that the detection of the disease is a timely reminder for all bird keepers, even if they only keep one bird, to maintain high biosecurity standards and to remain vigilant for any signs of disease in their flock.

Bird keepers are reminded of the importance of excellent biosecurity and anyone concerned about their birds should contact their PVP or their local divisional veterinary office.

The disease can produce variable clinical signs in affected birds but mortality can be high, and young birds are particularly susceptible. It can present as a very acute form, ranging to mild or sub-clinical disease. The signs depend on which body system the strain of the virus predominantly affects (the respiratory, digestive or nervous system) and can have a sudden onset and high mortality.

Signs include quietness, depression, drops in feed/water intake and in egg production in laying birds with a high proportion of eggs laid with abnormal (soft) shells.

There also may be respiratory distress (with gaping, coughing, sneezing, gurgling and rattling), yellowish green diarrhoea or nervous signs (such as tremors, lack of coordination, twisted necks and drooping wings, and paralysis).

How Newcastle disease is spread

DAERA has said that the disease is spread by direct contact with bodily fluids of infected birds, especially their faeces. It can also be spread indirectly through people and objects that have been in contact with infected birds, or their excretions (such as faeces). Objects that can carry the disease include:

  • Vehicles
  • Equipment
  • Clothing
  • Water and feed
    Higher year-on-year mart prices
    Analysis of mart prices in Northern Ireland show a marked increase in heifer prices during 2018.

    Firm demand for beef during the first half of 2018 has led to higher mart prices across NI.

    According to Mart Watch data, prices for good-quality U-grading continental heifers are running on average 11p/kg higher than last year.

    Over the first six months, they have averaged 213.94p/kg, compared with 192.92p/kg for the same period in 2017.

    On a 650kg animal this would make heifers sold in 2018 worth an extra £71.50. This differential increases to £305 when compared with the same period in 2016.

    The price differentials are even greater for plainer types. R-grading cattle averaged 186.98p/kg in 2018, compared with 148.59p/kg last year and 128.8p/kg in 2016. This makes a 650kg animal worth an extra £247 and £377 when compared with 2017 and 2016 respectively.


    The yearly price differential on good-quality steers is not as pronounced. Cattle weighing 600kg or above averaged 210.44p/kg this year, compared with 212.4p/kg in 2017.

    However, mart prices are running well ahead of 2016 levels, when good-quality cattle averaged 180.13p/kg during the first half of the year.

    On plainer animals, prices have averaged 192.3p/kg in 2018, compared with 189.64p/kg last year and 166.36p/kg in 2016. The biggest increase comes in lower-grading cattle sourced from the dairy herd. Prices have increased by 7p/kg to 167p/kg this year, making a 650kg animal worth an extra £45/head.