A BROTHER and sister from Pembrokeshire have kept the annual FWGS All-Wales Clamp Silage trophy in the county as they took first prize in the 2020-21 competition.

Winners Nigel Williams and Joy Smith are members of North Pembrokeshire Grassland Society and farm at Parc-y-Marl, Llysyfran.

Elwyn Griffiths, of Hill House Farm, Norton, Preseteigne, Powys – a member of East Radnor Grassland Society – was a very close runner-up.

The Federation of Welsh Grassland Societies judging panel agreed that Parc-y-Marl Farm as a whole package, was well managed within a very tidy system. While the analyses on the quality of the silage (tested by Agri-Lloyd) were important, the judges also considered clamp management and feeding practices among other efficiency markers.

This year’s judging panel consisted of technical judge John Evans; industry sponsor Wynnstay represented by Bryn Hughes; and last year's clamp silage competition winner Michael Williams, of Fagwrfran East, Puncheston, Haverfordwest.

John Evans reported: “Judging the All Wales Clamp Silage competition without visiting the farms was always going to be a difficult task. However the marking system for the farm visits was a good starting point, so we asked all five regional finalists to send us videos and photographs of their silage and farming systems.”

Finalists were asked to show footage of their clamp, the silage face and the top and sides so the panel could assess how well the silage had been stored. They were also asked for details of how the silage was fed, what was fed with it and to see the stock being fed.

“It is so pleasing to note that all five entrants made exceptionally good presentations and showed us their silage and their farms to the best of their ability," said Mr Evans.

"The panel all viewed the photos and videos individually, and then we met on Zoom to discuss our findings. It was very satisfying to note that we all agreed and came to the same conclusions on the winners.”

The panel all agreed that Parc-y-Marl Farm showed very well preserved silage; as well as other aspects of the farm which were well demonstrated and were happy that they had found a worthy winner. The panel also agreed that the runner-up only lost by a whisker and that all five finalists were all worthy competitors.

Parc-y-Marl is a 400-acre farm with a large amount of the farm sitting south facing at 400-600ft above sea level on free draining loamy soil over rock.

They milk 180 Friesian Holstein cows producing 7,500l/cow – (4400l per year from forage – 4.36 per cent butterfat / 3.35 per cent protein). They keep 86 young dairy stock followers under 12 months; and 65 aged 12-24 months; as well as 40 beef youngstock aged under 12 months; and 50 aged 12-24 months.

The foundation of the winter ration analysed at DM 43.3 per cent, D-value 79.5 per cent, ME 12.76 MJ/kg and CP 14.7 per cent showing excellent quality and method.

The first cut of 220 acres was taken on May 13 – the crop was wilted for 24 hours and the whole ensiling process completed within two days. There was a second cut of 150 acres at the end of June, and a third cut of 100 acres taken end of August; making up a total tonnage ensiled of 1960t. In addition there is 36 acres of barley for crimping grown on the farm.

Runner-up Elwyn Griffiths, of Hill House Farm, farms 290 acres with 830 sheep, 1100 lambs and 50 beef cows and two bulls. The foundation of the winter ration analysed at DM 42.7 per cent, D-value 75 per cent, ME 12.0 MJ/kg and CP 16.2 per cent.

This year’s other regional winners and all-Wales finalists were:

• T D & N Roberts, Fferam y Llan, Cerrigceinwen, Bodorgan, Ynys Môn – members of South Caernarfon Grassland Society;

• Neil Morgan, Trederwen Hall, Trederwen Lane, Arddleen, Llanymynech – members of Powys Grassland Society

• Alun Morris, Maenelin, Llanddeiniol, Aberystwyth – member of Aberystwyth Grassland Society.

Charlie Morgan, FWGS secretary, said: “It is very encouraging to see the quality of home produced forages and the attention to detail farmers demonstrate in the footage in order to reduce costs and improve efficiencies across all enterprises. We wish to express our congratulations to all who took part in this year’s competition and are very pleased with the high standard necessary for this competition and under unrealistic circumstances.”

The competition is run in conjunction with the RWAS, and sponsored by Wynnstay, and is open to all members of the 22 Welsh Grassland Societies.